HARVEY COMICS HOUSE PARTY!
No.19 June 2002
$6.95 In The US
Black Black Cat Cat ©2002 ©2002 Lorne-Harvey Lorne-Harvey Prod., Prod., Inc. Inc. All All others others ©2002 ©2002 Harvey Harvey Entertainment, Entertainment, Inc. Inc.
SIMON • JACOBSON • KREMER • COLÓN • POST • COUCHEY • EISNER
Harvey Comics Story the most successful comics publishers in U.S. history
established in the 1950s. As the ’40s wore on, fewer super-hero titles and more humor and adventure titles were attempted. For humor, there was the shortlived Clown Comics and the modestly successful Dotty Dripple and Horace and Dotty Dripple. For adventure, there was the equally short-lived Boy Explorers, Stuntman and Strange Story, though the former two were notable Simon & Kirby creations, and all victims of the industry’s postwar slump. In 1946, Harvey Publications had its first bona fide hit with Black Cat Comics. The Black Cat was originally featured in Harvey’s first publication Pocket Comics back in ’41, and appeared regularly or semi-regularly in just about every super-hero title Harvey produced during that decade. Black Cat underwent a few format changes, most notably becoming a horror anthology in the early ’50s, before reverting back to the original super-hero format at the conclusion of its run in 1963. The Harvey family retained the Black Cat property when the company when up for sale in 1989, and new issues of The Original Black Cat appeared sporadically throughout the ’90s. Talk of a movie is currently in discussion, as is a Web site. As the ’40s progressed, the appeal of super-heroes fell into a lull, and new ideas were attempted to lure readers back. In Harvey’s case, the answer was simple. He began licensing out many established and popular newspaper comic strips at the time. Though helming a fledgling Harvey Company, Alfred realized how successful syndicated newspaper comic strip-reprint titles had been since the success of Famous Funnies in the mid-’30s and so, by the late 1940s, Harvey phased out most of his super-hero titles and introduced its Comic Hits Revival series. The first syndicated strip property obtained by Harvey was Joe June 2002
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Palooka in 1945. Ham Fisher created Palooka in early 1928, with he comic strip centered on boxing with a schmaltzy storyline and Palooka’s naive charm, and became immensely popular. Palooka first appeared in comic books in 1933, though not by Harvey, but by Cupples and Leon Company. But the most enduring run was for Harvey from 1945-61. So popular was this comic that at one point it boasted over one million copies sold each issue. The title begat two spin-offs as well: Humphrey Comics (1948-52) and Little Max Comics (1949-61). In later years, Little Max outsold Joe Palooka, but by 1961, both titles were canceled to make way for the ever-expanding Harvey World line. In 1947, Harvey obtained the comic book rights from Ham Fisher’s arch nemesis, Al Capp, to publish Li’l Abner and also successfully purchased the license for Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates. Neither title was particularly successful and Li’l Abner lasted only nine issues and Terry for 24. Harvey started publishing a comic book version of Steve Canyon, another Milt Caniff creation, in 1948. But this proved to be the least successful Harvey comic based on a newspaper strip so far, lasting only six issues. Harvey fared a little better with Kerry Drake from 1948-52. A five-issue flop, Love Stories of Mary Worth was followed by Harvey’s most durable comic strip reprint book, Sad Sack in 1949, though that title would graduate to contain all-new material in short order and would be the only Comic Hits Revival title to last throughout the entire Harvey World era. The character was published all the way to the end of the original Harvey line in 1982, and had a brief resurgence by Lorne-Harvey in the ’90s. In 1950, Harvey started an anthology title called Family Funnies, (later called Tiny Tot Comics). The title was designed to
Above: The Harvey World cast (plus the Apollo 16 command module) march along in this illustration that originally graced an ad in the 1973 Reuben Awards Program. Is this by Marty Taras? Image taken from The Harveyville Fun Times! #17. Courtesy of Mark Arnold & Jim Korkis. ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc. Below: The Big H Kid, the Harvey mascot when the line was most renowned for its licensed “famous name” comics, such as Dick Tracy, Blondie, and others, in the 1940s.
Above: Harvey Comics founder and publisher, Alfred Harvey (left), sharing a drink with Ham Fisher, creator of Joe Palooka, as they toast the 21st anniversary of the comic strip’s debut at Toots Shor restaurant in New York City. Taken on May 1, 1951, at the height of Harvey’s “Famous Name Comics” era, when syndicated newspaper strip characters dominated the publishing company’s line. Below: Before becoming a comics mogul, Alfred Harvey drew advertising cartoons to help support his family during the Depression. All items from THFT #17, courtesy of that zine’s editor, Mark Arnold.
introduce newspaper strip characters into comic books. These issues contained reprints of Lee Falk’s Mandrake the Magician and Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon. Though Mandrake never made it into his own Harvey series, Flash lasted a total of four issues with his own title. Also in 1950, two more successful Harvey reprint lines began: Dick Tracy and Blondie Comics. Tracy enjoyed a healthy run at Harvey by starring in 110 issues (#25-145) from 1945-’61. Chic Young’s Blondie had a similar longevity. Like Dick Tracy, David McKay Publishing published the character before being picked up by Harvey. Her series last from #16-163 (’50’65). The series was continued by King Comics and later, Charlton Publications. In all, Blondie Comics lasted for 222 issues. There were also two spin-off titles, published solely by Harvey: Dagwood Comics (’50-’65) and Daisy and Her Pups (’51-’55). Tiny Tot Comics became Junior Funnies in 1951 and introduced Henry, Popeye and The Katzenjammer Kids to Harvey readers. Of these characters, only The Katzenjammer Kids made it into their own
Harvey title for five issues from 1953-54. Harvey Comic Hits was also a comic strip anthology title featuring Mandrake, Steve Canyon, Mary Worth, and one that would surface later in Harvey Hits, Lee Falk’s The Phantom. A final anthology title began in 1952, called Harvey Comics Library. The two-issue series became notorious for its first issue: Teen-Aged Dope Slaves as Exposed by Rex Morgan, M.D.! The Harvey World era was beginning, but Harvey still forged ahead with two more strip titles, Jiggs and Maggie (Bringing Up Father) and Ripley’s Believe it or Not! in 1953. Neither title was successful, lasting no more than five and four issues, respectively. The emphasis on newspaper strips was definitely gone, but two final attempts in the ’60s were made, both with different success. Al Fisher’s Mutt and Jeff was first in ’60. When Dell relinquished the rights to the strip that year, Harvey took over with #116, publishing until #148 in ’65. Two giant-sized spin-offs were issued, Mutt and Jeff Jokes (’60-’61) and Mutt and Jeff’s New Jokes (’63-’65). It was obvious what sold at Harvey by this time, as Richie Rich, Little Lotta, Little Dot, Sad Sack and Stumbo all made appearances in the back of these issues. Apart from Sad Sack, by 1966, all newspaper strip titles were canceled. Though Little Audrey did have a newspaper comic strip that was later reprinted in Harvey issues, the character had her origins in animated cartoons. Ditto for the Richie Rich comic strip, as “The Poor Little Rich Boy” had debuted in comic books. But before the Harvey World began in earnest, Harvey Publications tackled two genres with great, if short-lived, success: romance and horror! Romance comics have taken a backseat to other comic book genres, but they do have their own core of fans. This is due to their camp value, and also due to the fact that romance comics have many examples of early work from future top comic book illustrators. Overall, in comparison, romance comics are substantially undervalued in comparison to their super-hero counterparts, published at the same time. Young Romance #1, considered to be the very first romance comic, was issued by Prize in September ’47. Created by and featuring the work of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, the team credited with inventing the wildly successful romance genre and both of who had worked for Harvey at the beginning of their careers. (DC Comics felt this particular comic was worthy of a reissue when they ran their Millennium reprint series during 2000.) The high point for romance comics was from about ’49-’55 when every publisher was producing numerous titles. Harvey, not to miss a hot trend, was there with their titles, but was pretty much out of the genre by the late ’50s, publishing their final book in ’63. DC, Marvel and Charlton, however, carried on with regular titles into the 1970s, when the category finally gave up the ghost. Harvey entered into the fray with the following titles: First Love Illustrated (’49-’63); First Romance Magazine (’49-’58); Hi-School Romance (’49-’58); Love Lessons (’49-’50); Love Stories of Mary Worth (’49-’50); and Sweet Love (’49-’50). Soon after, Harvey took over True Love Problems and Advice Illustrated (’49-’58) from McCombs. This title was eventually renamed Romance Stories of True Love. Harvey actually advertised this book as Love Letters in late 1949 Harvey titles. In fact, the first issue was published as Love Letters, but this was covered up by the time the title reached the stands, literally, with silver ink! Unfortunately, Harvey lost out to Quality Comics in securing the title and hence, the title change to Lessons. An additional title, Teen-Age Brides (’53-’58) was added, and underwent a few title changes over the years, becoming True Bride’s Experiences and later True Bride-to-Be Romances. By 1958, all Harvey romance titles were cancelled, save for First Love Illustrated, which carried on until ’63. Hi-School Romance returned briefly as Hi-School Romance Datebook (’62-’63). Harvey apparently did not care to ever revive these titles as no attempt was made to return to the genre via Harvey Hits or a later digest. Perhaps witnessing other failed return attempts by DC confirmed their suspicions that the time for these books had indeed passed. Artists who gained fame elsewhere like Jayson Disbrow, Joe Orlando, Matt Baker, and Jack Kamen, graced the pages of these COMIC BOOK ARTIST 19
books. Such Harvey stalwarts as Warren Kremer, Bob Powell, Howard Nostrand, and Lee Elias, who also contributed to the upcoming horror titles, also provided memorable artwork. When EC Comics gradually changed all of their romance and humor titles to horror and crime, they created another major success story within comic books that made all of the other publishers take notice. One of these publishers of course, was Harvey, who created their own distinct series of horror titles. It’s hard to believe now since Harvey is remembered now mainly for such gentle characters as Casper, Richie Rich and Sad Sack. Like EC, Harvey used their extant titles and renamed them Chamber of Chills (’51-’55) and Black Cat Mystery (’51-’54). Mystery was formerly The Black Cat, while Chills does not seem to have an ancestor, beginning enigmatically with #21. (To compare, EC did the same thing when they renamed Crime Patrol, Gunfighter, and Saddle Romances as Crypt of Terror—later Tales from the Crypt—Haunt of Fear, and Vault of Horror, respectively.) In 1950, with EC’s popularity soaring, Harvey entered the fold with horror tales that rivaled those of Bill Gaines’ outfit for both ghastly story and horrid artwork. Whereas EC had Johnny Craig, Jack Kamen, “Ghastly” Graham Ingels, and Jack Davis (to name a few) as artists, Harvey notably had such talent as Bob Powell, Howard Nostrand, Rudy Palais and Lee Elias creating exceptional work. The main difference between the Harvey horror comics and EC is the absence of any hosts, such as the Crypt Keeper, Vault Keeper and the Old Witch over at Entertaining Comics. Harvey had no introductory characters per se, just random tales of terror, save for a June 2002
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lone unnamed witch in Witches Tales (’51-’56), Harvey’s first horror title, debuting in January 1951, and lasting 28 issues, when the title was oddly renamed for a final two issues as Witches’ Western Tales, ending with #30, April 1955. The title left horror behind when it finally became Western Tales for a further three issues. A second title jointed Witches Tales in June when Chamber of Chills premiered. Chills continued with #22-24, then was renumbered #5-26 (December 1954), becoming Chamber of Clues with #27 and #28. Chills is considered the best of the Harvey horror titles, if only for the superb Powell/Nostrand material that appeared in most of the later issues. The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide sites Chills as being a very violent title, graphically. This is part of its appeal, but actually all of the Harvey horror titles have their fair share of gore. Harvey’s third horror title was actually a modification of Black Cat Comics, when it changed from issues featuring the super-heroine starlet to horror stories with the title Black Cat Mystery with #29 (June 1951). Mystery contains two classic elements that the Harvey horror is best remembered: 1) the legendary story “Colorama” by Bob Powell in issue #45 (August 1953); and 2) the classic Warren Kremer (!) “White Heat!” cover of issue #50 (June 1954) of a man’s face melting while holding a bar of radium! After December 1954 and issue #53, the series reverted back to the super-hero title. Tomb of Terror (1952-55) was Harvey’s fourth and final horror title. By the appearance of this title in June 1952, Harvey’s horror had hit its stride. Terror ran for 16 issues before changing its name to Thrills of Tomorrow for a final four issues. Of course, the infamous Comics Code Authority put an end to all of Harvey’s—and everyone else’s—horror comic book titles. By 1955, all ceased publication. Two potential later titles, Inferno of Fear and Strange Fantasy never saw the light. That would be the end of that chapter of the Harvey story, except that some of the material was later collected and reprinted in Harvey’s Shocking Tales Digest in October 1981, and still later, Alan Harvey reprinted more material in three issues of LorneHarvey’s horror anthology, The Silver Scream (1991). As with horror, Harvey also emulated EC by launching a line of war titles. Whereas EC had TwoFisted Tales and Frontline Combat, Harvey had the long-running Warfront (1951-58; 1965-67); War Battles (1952-53); Fighting Fronts (195253); and True War Experiences (1952). These were at their sales peak during the Korean War. Harvey again copied EC with their short-lived satire title Flip (1954), Harvey’s answer to Mad. While Harvey was releasing stories of graphic horror featuring ghosts, witches and devils, it wasn’t
Above: One of the first comic titles published by Harvey was Champion Comics. Even before throwing his hat into the ring, Alfred was friends with Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, who would sporadically contribute to the imprint over the years, as they did this cover. ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc. Inset left: Mid’40s Harvey house ad promoting their entire comics line. ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc.
Left: After both returned to civilian life from WWII, Simon & Kirby stopped by Harvey Comics and contributed two well-regarded issues of Stuntman (as well as one issue of the exceptional Boy Explorers). Stuntman #3 was to introduce Stuntboy and Stuntgirl, flanking our hero in an unused drawing by S&K. ©2002 Joe Simon and the estate of Jack Kirby. 21
Above: Integral to the success of the Harvey World characters was their perennial presence on children’s TV in the 1950s and ’60s, beginning with Matty’s Funday Funnies in 1957 (“Matty,” being the cartoon mascot of sponsor Mattel Toys, one of the nation’s largest toy manufacturers, most notably of Barbie). This house ad appeared in Harvey titles of the early 1960s. ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc. Below: Ham Fisher’s long-running Mutt & Jeff was another “Famous Name” syndicated newspaper strip that had a healthy run as a Harvey comic book. Characters ©2002 the respective copyright holder.
While Warren Kremer and Howard Post have drawn Lotta, the majority of her appearances were illustrated by Sid Couchey and Dom Sileo. Little Lotta was published from 1955-76, getting deep-sixed when the Richie Rich explosion took all the girls down. After 120 issues of her own title (#121 was advertised, but never issued), our rotund female remained as a supporting feature in Richie Rich books until Harvey’s “first demise” in 1982. Upon Harvey’s return in ’86, it was proposed to have Lotta be the drummer of a rock band with Little Audrey on guitar and Little Dot on vocals, but that concept was wisely shelved. I guess the idea was to have the three become teenagers and have misadventures similar to Josie and the Pussycats (“Lotta and the Littles”?). Recently, the golden-locked chunky lass appeared in The Harvey Magazine and made her live-action debut in the direct-to-video release Baby Huey’s Great Easter Adventure. RICHIE RICH: The poor little rich boy made his debut as a backup feature in Little Dot in 1953. Although artist Warren Kremer and Harvey editor Sid Jacobson say they created the character (Warren pointing out that he named the character for his son, Richard), Harvey family members insist that the company’s founder, Alfred Harvey, began conceptualizing Richie as early as the 1930s. Regardless of his roots, the wealthy kid regularly appeared with his (much-less-wealthy) friends, Freckles and Pee-Wee Friendly, as well as his parents, Richard and Regina Rich, and girlfriend, Gloria Glad. As in Archie Comics, the arch rival is named Reggie, but this twit is Richie’s snobbish cousin, Reginald Van Dough. Other regulars like Cadbury, the perfect butler, did not appear until the ’60s, and other well-known supporting
players later still. Though he would become Harvey’s most valuable property in terms of comic book sales, Richie did not have his own title until 1960. Prior to that, he made two starring appearances in the Harvey Hits anthology series. Later, Richie made up for lost time by adding Richie Rich Millions, Richie Rich Dollars and Cents, etc. At one point in the mid-’70s, Richie was starring in 32 different titles every 60 days! More Richie Rich stories have been published than of any other U.S. comic book character, probably in the entire history of the industry, with over 2,000 issues to the kid’s credit. Certainly Richie was the most successful feature in American comic books in the 1970s. The initial stories had a humorous slant poking fun at the Rich family’s immense wealth. As time went on (especially by the ’70s), Richie’s stories took a turn towards adventure, with some tales rivaling Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge sagas, for sheer entertainment value. Interestingly, the character did not appear in animated form until 1980, when Hanna-Barbera premiered The Richie Rich Show. Currently, these cartoons are available on home video and appear on Cartoon Network. In this series, the cartoons are fairly faithful to their comic book counterparts, except that Richie, Reggie and Gloria appear to be about 12 years old instead of the seven- or eight-yearolds they appear to be in the comics. Also, a red sweater emblazoned with a big “R” and full-length slacks replace Richie’s trademark waistcoat and blue shorts. In 1994, child super-star Macaulay Culkin of Home Alone fame starred in the live-action theatrical film version of Richie Rich. Though not a huge success at the box office, the film proved fairly popular on home video. The movie also starred Jonathan Hyde and John Larroquette. A direct-to-video sequel with a different cast was released in ’98 titled Richie Rich, a Christmas Wish with a third video still in the works, Richie Rich’s Summer Camp. On September 21, 1996, a new animated Richie Rich cartoon series debuted in syndication. It also featured classic Herman and Katnip and Little Audrey cartoons. This series was a spin-off of The Baby Huey Show, which aired from 1994-96. Richie shares with Casper the distinction of being one of Harvey’s two most memorable and enduring characters, appearing most recently in print in the pages of The Harvey Magazine. To create and develop all of these new characters, new talent had to be hired who were capable of producing this type of animated cartoon-style material. As realistic—or less cartoony, if you will— artists such as Bob Powell, Howard Nostrand, Lee Elias, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were phased out, the new talent that arrived during the 1950s included Warren Kremer, Ernie Colón, Dom Sileo, Sid Couchey, Marty Taras, Ken Selig, Lennie Herman, Stan Kay, Larz Bourne, Howard Post, Grace Kremer, and numerous others. As the shift towards children’s titles continued throughout the ’50s, Harvey introduced Harvey Hits (1957-67), an umbrella-titled anthology series designed to test a character’s appeal with a starring book. Some like Wendy and Richie Rich succeeded in eventually getting their own titles, while others like Buzzy and Herman and Katnip did not. Harvey tried to emulate Archie’s success with a teen-aged character called Mazie (1954-58), and its spin-off “Flat-Top” (1955), but neither lasted very long. This was a sign that the children’s titles were more popular, and as the 1950s wore on, Harvey created more characters for their books like Hot Stuff, the Little Devil (1957-82; 1986-91); “Stumbo” (backup feature in Hot Stuff, star of Harvey Hits and later, recipient of his own title from 1963-66); and ones for Famous/Paramount including Spooky, the Tuff Little Ghost (1955-80; 1991-92) and Wendy, the Good Little Witch (1960-76; 1990-94). HOT STUFF: An interesting aspect of Harvey Comics is their ability to take characters who would traditionally frighten little children and make them happy and harmless. It is common for little kids to be scared of ghosts, witches and devils, but Harvey always made their monsters friendly at best, mischievous at worst. Hot Stuff, the Little Devil, is one of the latter. The first appearance of the little devil was in Hot Stuff #1, October 1957. Harvey must have had confidence, since blind launches were rare indeed. The character didn’t first appear as a back-up feature in any other title or even have a trial run in Harvey Hits. COMIC BOOK ARTIST 19
Hot Stuff’s role in the Harvey World is somewhat unique, as he doesn’t really crossover into the other characters’ neighborhoods too often. I can only recall maybe two times he teamed up with Spooky and once with Casper. Generally, the diminutive demon remains in his own world, a forest filled with ogres, gnomes, fairies and other devils. The supporting feature for virtually all of the Hot Stuff titles has always been Warren Kremer’s masterful “Stumbo, the Giant.” Strangely enough, though they have appeared in issues together as early as Hot Stuff #3, there has never been a Hot Stuff/Stumbo team-up story. Howard Post and Warren Kremer were the principle artists behind the Hot Stuff stories, though the character’s creation has been attributed to Alfred Harvey. Post’s wild and inventive humor was the mainstay of the title for many years. Kremer drew his share of the headliner’s tales, but the artist’s main contribution was to illustrate all of the “Stumbo” back-ups over the years. Warren also drew the majority of the Hot Stuff covers. As usual for Harvey titles during the ’50s and ’60s, the crimson-colored kid had his share of spin-offs. Hot Stuff Sizzlers first appeared in 1960, then Devil Kids Starring Hot Stuff began in ’62. Finally, Hot Stuff Creepy Caves made its debut in ’74. There was also a proposed Hot Stuff Hottest Devil title, circa ’72, but it never came out. The devil kid has retained a relatively low profile over the years, compared to other Harvey characters. This may be primarily due to the fact that he has never appeared in an animated film, nor appeared on a great deal of merchandise. An animated series was attempted in the ’60s and again in the ’70s, but the character’s devilish looks may have unfortunately kept Hot Stuff off the airwaves. A sort of cult mystique does surround the character, as he is appreciated in the drug, rave and biker cultures, perhaps due to a mistaken satanic inference, and Hot Stuff’s image continues to be applied on human skin in tattoo parlors the world over, in places far creepier than his enchanted forest home. There have been some excellent Hot Stuff stories. One such tale, entitled, “Fire When Ready,” concerns everyone using and abusing Hot Stuff’s heat and light powers for their own selfish purposes, but the result is a spectacular display of his typically short temper. STUMBO: Despite his size, Stumbo the Giant is one of the most overlooked Harvey World characters to sport his own title. Created as a supporting feature for Hot Stuff in 1957, surprisingly little is known as to Stumbo’s origins, excepting that he came from Giantland and now busies himself looking after Tinytown. He regularly converses with local citizens such as the mustachioed Officer O’Floodle, the village constable. Most of the giant’s adventures concern his earnest attempts to improve Tinytown by relocating the entire municipality or by altering the weather. Unfortunately for Stumbo, his well-intended deeds usually backfire and he struggles to return things exactly as they were. Occasionally, the good-natured goliath is at odds with villainous Dr. Cesspool, who is constantly trying to rid Tinytown of Stumbo so that he can rule over the area, but his nefarious plans always fail, as our hero saves the day. Strangely, Harvey has not exploited Stumbo, even though he is a thoroughly enjoyable character, created by Larz Bourne and Warren Kremer. Stories are in the same vein as Baby Huey. Ironically, issues bearing his name command a higher price than average for other Harvey World characters in The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. It would be nice to see the character in an animated cartoon, or Kremer’s superbly rendered stories collected in a large volume or just receiving a measure of exposure he so richly deserves, though Stumbo did appear in print recently in Casper and Friends and The June 2002
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Harvey Magazine. SPOOKY: “The Tuff Little Ghost” has an interesting status within the Harvey World. He closely resembles Casper, barring the large black nose, freckles and derby, but his ability to scare the beejeezus out of folks rival those of the Ghostly Trio, all combining to make an interesting character. Spooky has teamed-up with Casper as well as the Ghostly Trio, and on at least one occasion, Hot Stuff. Stories for Spooky usually fall in predictable categories. For instance, the wise-guy spectre frequently encounters “lands” where all the inhabitants are objects that come to life, such as bells or clocks. This same storyline occurred frequently for Hot Stuff as well, so it should be no surprise to learn that both characters were primarily drawn by Howard Post, though Warren Kremer most always drew the covers. Another recurring storyline involved the effort of Spooky’s friend, Poil (or Pearl, if you prefer not to think with a Brooklyn accent) to get Spooky to stop his constant scaring. The weisenhiemer endlessly dreamed up sneaky ways to frighten people but tried, usually in vain, not to get caught. Dom Sileo mainly drew these efforts, although Post did draw a
Left inset: During the dark days of 1957, a number of top-notch artists—let go by EC Comics, Atlas, and others—found a brief respite in the Harvey Thriller line helmed by Joe Simon, the first incarnation—equally shortlived—of that imprint. Perhaps the best title was Race for the Moon, seen here in an unused cover by Jack Kirby, with interiors featuring exquisite work by Kirby and Al Williamson (the latter who inked the former which produced some killer stuff!). Below: We believe these are Bob Powell’s unused variations of a cover for Alarming Tales #6, though Overstreet credits John Severin as cover artist, who certainly inked the job.
©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc.
Above: Continuity freaks, rejoice! The 1990 Harvey comics included this detailed map of Harveyland which gave readers reference to the locations of their favorite characters to one another. Note the location of the “Spartan Comic Book Printing Plant” (and here we thought it was in Illinois!). ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc.
Summer of 1984, going on to hold the title as the most successful film comedy of all time. It had a catchy theme song, a quality cast, funny script, and a clever marketing campaign centered around the “No Ghost” logo immediately identifiable to this day. Well, that logo—basically the universal traffic sign for “Do Not Enter,” with a cartoon ghost behind the symbol, looking dismayed—was the basis of yet another lawsuit. This one initiated by Harvey, who declared that the ghost was lifted from the Ghostly Trio’s Fatso. Although the two poltergeists were deemed to be vaguely similar, the court ruled that there are only “So many ways to draw a ghost,” thereby dismissing Harvey’s case. The publisher’s failed litigation, coupled with the virtual Harvey character clones published by Star Comics—especially Royal Roy whose existence threatened Harvey’s most valuable property—made it necessary for the company to get back in the publishing game, lest their characters fall into obscurity or, worse, public domain. The interfamily lawsuits started a decade before were finally resolved and Harvey Publications was restructured so that Alfred’s family would have ultimate control of the company’s fate. In Fall 1986, Harvey made a triumphant return to publishing with six titles appearing with October or November 1986 cover dates: Richie Rich #219, Friendly Ghost Casper #225, Hot Stuff #165, Casper Digest #1, Harvey Hits Comics #1, Richie Rich Digest #1 and Richie Rich Million Dollar Digest #1. The covers bluntly and proudly stating, “You asked for him!” As a serious collector of Harvey at this time, but one not fluent in the company’s history, I considered the return nothing short of a miracle in publishing, as I figured that no one would care enough to bring my favorite comic books back to life. But sadly, during the year of the Harvey resurrection, Leon Harvey passed away in 1986. Although the return of the company was most welcome in this
author’s eyes, the comic book industry in 1986 and ’87 was very different than it was earlier in the decade or even in the ’70s. Cover prices increased from 75¢ to $1, and print runs and sales continued to diminish. The issues published by Alan Harvey from 1986-89 were a major return to form and were the best-looking and highest-quality issues published by Harvey to date. Not that the public noticed. Even the appearance of new material didn’t help. It was then decided by the Harvey family that the only way out was to sell the characters that made Harvey Publications world famous. Enter Jeff Montgomery, a young son of a venture capitalist that was willing to take a risk on the floundering company. An agreement was drawn up for Montgomery to purchase the rights to the company save for the super-hero material of the ’40s-60s and Sad Sack. Montgomery assumed publication of the comics in 1990, and soon the company moved from New York to Los Angeles. The purchase was reportedly for $6 million, with all the liabilities of the company in tow. After the purchase, the company was re-christened “Harvey Entertainment.” The investor set about to expand his line and take advantage of his purchase. Montgomery’s first plan was to publish comic books featuring the hottest pop rock group of the time, New Kids on the Block. Though the idea was probably a sound one monetarily, the execution left much to be desired as the new comic books were a full 25¢ more than others on the line and six regular NKOTB titles flooded into the marketplace simultaneously. A more modest approach might have been attempted, but as a total stranger to the comic book industry, Montgomery apparently set his sights on the lucrative TV and film industries, figuring the Harvey characters were just the ticket. If I can beg the reader’s gracious indulgence, allow me a personal aside: Meanwhile, a young frustrated writer/artist/publisher had set his own sights on publishing a magazine devoted to one of his COMIC BOOK ARTIST 19
Sid’s Kids: The Harvey Years Conversing with Harvey managing editor Sid Jacobson Conducted by Bill Matheny Transcribed by Jon B. Knutson Sid Jacobson is one of those legendary editors—perhaps akin to Victor Gorelick over at Archie—who seems to have been in the comic book business since the Stone Age, is well liked by just about every freelancer, and also happens to be excellent at his job, lording over tens of thousands of quality comics pages since taking on the editorial position at Harvey in the early 1950s. Still a passionate advocate for wholesome children’s comics, Sid continues to work in the field, currently at Sunland Entertainment (the company which once was Harvey). Sid was interviewed in his Los Angeles office and he copyedited the final transcript.
Above: The man himself, Sid Jacobson, editor of the Harvey World line of comics from the early 1950s to, well, the early 1990s, though there was a lapse in the ’80s, when Sid helmed the Star Comics line at Marvel. This pic, courtesy of Sid, was taken during his stay at the House of Ideas.
Inset right: Surprisingly, perhaps the finest run of Harvey children’s comics was during their initial (albeit shortlived) revival in 1986 when each issue was spot-on in all-out entertainment. Editor Sid Jacobson, artists Warren Kremer, Howie Post, Ernie Colón and others just pored their hearts into the work and it showed. This group shot was the centerspread from the resurrected titles trumpeting the line’s return. ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc. 40
Bill Matheny: Where were you born? Sid Jacobson: An apartment in Brooklyn. [laughter] I grew up in Brooklyn. I still see an old compatriot from Brooklyn who I first met when I was seven years old, and we speak together almost every week. We talk about how wonderful it was, growing up in those days. Poor as hell as we were! Bill: Now, did you live in a predominantly Jewish area? Sid: It was Jewish and Italian. Bill: Were they slums, or were they a step above? Sid: No. I’d say lower middle class. I grew up on the second floor of a walk-up of four rooms, and my parents slept in basically what would be the living room, and my sister and I had a bedroom. Bill: What did your father do? Sid: My father was in the garment business. He was what is called a pattern maker. Bill: Did your mom stay at home? Sid: In those days, all mothers were stay-at-home. Bill: Was your sister older or younger? Sid: My sister was six years older. She died ten years ago. We were close. Bill: When you were young, did you read a lot of comics, were you heavily influenced by them? Sid: I did read a lot of comics. I never thought I’d end up in comics, but I did read a lot of comics. I remember Superman and Batman, and I remember they were that important to me, as a kid of my generation. Bill: Were comic strips an influence on
you? Sid: Oh, yeah. I would say so. I became an instant fan of Superman. My father read at least two New York papers a day, the Times in the morning on his way to work, and on his ride home, he read The World Telegram. The New York Post had Superman, and I pleaded with my father until he stopped buying the Telegram and bought the Post so I’d be able to read Superman. [laughter] At that time, the Post World Syndicate had a lot of very good strips. Then, my mother read the Daily News, so I got to read all the strips in that. Bill: You were well-informed! Sid: Yeah, there wasn’t television! [laughter] Bill: You were heavily-influenced by big band music at the time, weren’t you? Sid: Oh, yeah! Bill: When you were a little kid, what was the lure of that? Sid: Well, I was a big band fan. My favorite band was Stan Kenton. I especially loved instrumentals, and had a huge record collection including Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Charlie Barnet, Kenton… I had every Kenton record, went to con-
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certs, and it was tremendous for me. There were not too many boys my age into that stuff, maybe two other guys—Bernie Platin and Jimmy McHugh—who were interested in the big bands, and we talked a lot. I even went to the famous Frank Sinatra concert at the Paramount, the first time he appeared there. That was the only time, I believe, I ever cut class, [laughter] Jimmy and I went together. Later on, I became a songwriter. Bill: Did you guys try to sneak into clubs to see guys, or just had the records? Sid: No, not while I was in school. Bill: So you were in high school at the time? Sid: When I went to the Sinatra? Yeah. In fact, I was in junior high. Bill: Had you ever seen anything like that before? The bobbie-sox hoopla surrounding Frank? Sid: Sinatra? No, nothing like it. In my lifetime, that was the first great outcry for a performer, for a singer. It was unbelievable. Bill: That must’ve been just overwhelming! Sid: It was thrilling. I’d go to places like the Paramount, the Capitol, the Strand, the Roxy… I mean, you could see big bands perform and comedians doing their acts. Sinatra was a rarity, but he started singing for a big band, and then went on his own! Bill: Do you think the big band music influenced your writing and editing later on in any way? Sid: No. I did become a songwriter for a period of time. Bill: I’m talking about the way you approach comics, do you think it influenced your story senses in any way?
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Sid: I don’t know. Maybe the rhythm of sound, the way I might write, but… Bill: I’d think it would very much, when you’re approaching dialogue—even in comic books—you once said that rhythm is the basis of all art. It must’ve had some kind of influence! Sid: When I was in college, I began a jazz club at NYU, so there was this constant interest in music, and in swing or primarily jazz swing. I went to the Royal Roost, Bop City, Jimmy Ryan’s, all those clubs, mainly from college on. Bill: Were the rest of your family into big band music like you? Sid: No, though my family was interested in music. Bill: When you started at Harvey in 1953, the bulk of their output wasn’t humor books at the time, was it? Sid: No. Not when I started. Actually, Harvey was a very sizeable firm at that time. There were four editors: Matt Murphy, Louise Hill, Perry Antoshak, and I was coming in to be the fourth. There was a whole group of famous name, licensed comics: Joe Palooka, Dick Tracy, Kerry Drake, Blondie, Dagwood, The Phantom… well, those was just the properties. There was a whole group of Blondie books, for instance. I think Dotty Dripple at the time had two regular titles, one a monthly, one a bi-monthly. Little Max and Humphrey were Joe Palooka spin-offs. Then, there were four or five horror books, four or five war books, and a line of romance comics that included four or five different titles. Bill: How many books a month were they were publishing? Sid: Oh, I would think at that time between 30 and 45. There was a gal, Louise Hill, who edited all the romance books, as well as Dick Tracy and Kerry Drake. Harvey editor Perry Antoshak, interestingly enough, became Warren Kremer’s brother-in-law. [laughs] Warren was married to a gal named Grace Callori, who filled-in at the Harvey art department, and two of them got together and later married. Grace’s sister Phyliss married Perry. I came in as an assistant to Perry, before the Korean War, and within six months of my being there, Perry got drafted into the Army—this was during the Korean War—and I took over his entire line of books. Bill: So you weren’t working on the humor books when you first came over? Sid: No. The first books I worked on for were the war and horror books, and Joe Palooka. That was when I started. When Matt Murphy went to Dell, I took over his books. That was my introduction to the humor. Bill: Was
Above: Just who are the true creators of Richie Rich, the Poor Little Rich Boy? Still heatedly debated, one side says Sid Jacobson and Warren Kremer and the other, Harvey Comics president Alfred Harvey. Regardless, under the helmsmanship of editor Jacobson and definitive RR artist Kremer, the character went on to become perhaps the most popular comic book character of all time, if number of titles are the indicator. The kid had 32 different comic book titles devoted to him! Here’s the debut issue of his first solo mag, cover dated November 1960. ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc.
Créme de la Kremer Harvey’s best artist talks with Ken Selig, Bill Janocha and Grace Editor’s Note BILL JANOCHA truly went above and beyond the call of duty in helping to see that Warren Kremer receives due attention in these pages. Our hearty thanks! Bill submitted a biography, which we’ve edited for print below: Bill is a freelance cartoonist and illustrator who has been studio assistant to Mort Walker on Gamin and Patches and Beetle Bailey since April 1987. Editor of the 1988 and 1996 editions of The National Cartoonists Society Album, for which he was nominated for an Eisner Award. He served as the NCS membership chair on their board of directors. As a child, he urged his mother to buy him the latest Harveys. Today, he is married with a young son, who is already an avid fan of the Harvey creations. Below: Warren drew the melange of Harvey characters for a calendar header in the ’60s. ©2002 Harvey Entertainment Inc.
Conducted by Bill Janocha Transcribed by Brian K. Morris If there is any impression Ye Ed hopes any reader of this Harvey Comics retrospective should walk away with, it’s that Warren Kremer is an extraordinarily talented artist. A master of design, character nuance and just plain exquisite drawing ability, he is perhaps the most underrated—or, even worse, ignored—comic book creator of significance in the industry’s history. What Jack Kirby is to superheroes and Dan DeCarlo is to teenage humor, Warren Kremer is to children’s comics. Overwhelmingly, that wonderfully accessible “look and feel” of the Harvey Comics is mostly due to this premier artist’s talents, as his versions of Casper, Richie Rich, Hot Stuff, and many other Harvey favorites, are the quintessential character designs. Though we had hoped a new Warren Kremer interview would have been the showcase for this issue, circumstances led us to transcribe this June, 1990 round table discussion with Warren, his lovely wife (and Harvey letterer) Grace, former Harvey art director and cartoonist Ken Selig, and interviewer (and assistant to cartoonist Mort Walker) Bill Janocha. Our grateful appreciation goes to Bill and Ken for their gracious support and dedication in helping Warren receive some measure of attention by the comics industry at large. This talk took place in Warren and Grace’s New Jersey home and the transcript was copyedited by Bill and approved by Warren and Ken.—Ye Editor Bill Janocha: [To Warren] Where were you born? Warren Kremer: In the Bronx, New York, down in the Mott
Haven section, lower town. Ken Selig: Warren always wanted a house, with a workshop and tools. Warren: Which I didn’t get it until I got this house in 1956. Bill: Who were your first influences in the field? Alex Raymond? Warren: Yeah, I loved Raymond’s work. He was the epitome for me, and I also loved Hal Foster’s artwork. Bill: So the newspaper comic strips were important? Warren: Oh yeah. Those Sunday funnies were so easily accessible, more than anything. Bill: You went to the School of Industrial Arts? Warren: Yes. It was right next to the Times’ printing building. 40TH Street on Seventh Avenue. The school was an old, old building, rebuilt in 1861. I’ll never forget, they had a plaque telling that the building was rebuilt and it was a real ancient building. Bill: Did you take the Landon course or study with different artists? Warren: Well, in those days, the instructors didn’t need teaching certificates, as long as they were working artists. In other words, if you were a working sign painter, you’d go right into the school and teach the kids what you knew. And that’s what they did. I had a sign painter teacher called Martin and he was a crackerjack letterer! Bill: As good as Grace? [laughs] Grace Kremer: [To Warren] That’s how you described me at the time, right? [laughs] Bill: Growing up in the Bronx, did you have an artistic family? Warren: Yes, and my dad was a sign painter. Bill: So art ran in the family? Ink in the veins? Warren: I guess so. Bill: You got encouragement? Warren: Well, I took a different path, naturally, than they did, but my family always encouraged me. They never told me, “Ahh, you don’t want to be an artist. You want to be a doctor!” None of that. Grace: A lot of people couldn’t make a living from their art. Ken: If you were a good sign painter, you were slated to be great. A sign painter has to put down a stroke so accurately, one swift move of the wrist. I think that’s where his greatness comes from, the fact that he was born a sign painter. You show me a sign painter and I’ll show you a born artist. Bill: [To Ken] How about your family? Ken: I had a very loving sister. I was born in old New York, grew up with a family life. I decided to work for the family. We had jobs delivering newspapers, selling pretzels… Warren: Did you eat up the profits? Ken: Yes, indeed. I looked forward to it. Especially sitting down there at six o’clock in the morning with that heavy smell of the pretzel dough baking! Oh, that great smell. Grace: With mustard? COMIC BOOK ARTIST 19
Warren: Yeah, the bakery was down a dark cellar. You always had these bakeries down in cellars and you wondered how did they ever keep the vermin out? You know, there had to be vermin. Ken: I guess because there was so much movement down there, the rats would stay away. Grace: No, no, no! They all had cats. There were mousers in my uncle’s bakery. Ken: That’s probably true, Grace. Warren: There was a speakeasy just across the way from me. When I was a child, I used to see the cops come and raid it and roll the barrels out in the gutter, hit them with an axe and all the beer would flow down the gutter, down into the sewer. Grace: And you’d see grown men cry! Warren: There was a pretzel factory right in the same building. Bill: So when did you start venturing more into getting your work published? You said you worked in the pulps? Warren: I have to tell you that when I was in school, I had a teacher named Bob Seaman and he used to come up to me and say, “Are you doing anything after school?” I’d say no, and he’d say, “You want to come up to my studio and help me?” I said, “Why, sure!” So he’d take me up to 59TH Street, into the same loft we worked in for the Harveys many years later—I used to work up there in the old Journal-American, promotion and advertising section… Ken: That was a two-story building. Warren: A loft, I remember. Ken: And that’s where you worked doing Sad Sack for King Features in that building. Warren: You’re right. Well, they had the entire loft. It was a promotion. I used to do presentations with them. Seaman taught me how to do presentations so that eventually when I worked at Ace Magazines, and they wanted to do a presentation, I made up a little dummy and gave it to them in the mail, they okayed it, and I did the finished presentations. Then I got a job in a publishing house for Ace Magazines. This was during World War II. They had dropped the atomic bomb when I worked there. I remember coming down the lobby and everybody was excited about the atom bomb. I didn’t know what the hell an atom bomb was! I had never even heard of it. Bill: So you started as an illustrator? Warren: Yes, I did. I just went up there with a portfolio. Ace had this editor named Fred Gardener. He couldn’t draw but knew what was good and he’d come look over your shoulder and say, “That’s enough. Don’t spend any more time on that. Get moving onto something else.” That way he got the magazine out on time. Bill: These were adventure, horror or gangster stories? Warren: No, one was a confession pulp called Secrets, the Revealing Romances! [laughs] Well, that’s what I worked on. Bill: It would be guy/girl stuff with women scorned, things like that? What reference were you using? Photos or models? Ken: It was all black-&-white, right? Warren: Those were pulp illustrations. Ken: The pulps really lasted up to the ’50s. Raymond Chandler was big in those
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days. Bill: So, then, that lasted until…? Warren: I think it was in 1939. I used to draw pulp illustrations and also did wash illustrations for the aviation book that was printed in rotogravure. Do you remember that process? They did comic pages in the ’60s, they put out an inquiry, it said “roto comics.” That was all of us: Broome and Avery and all of the cut off before. Yeah, St. John was doing that and he heard of me and called me to his office to do a story on roto in New York for his comic book, which I did. In one day, we shot every picture down in Greenwich Village. The photographer was a newsman and, boy, could he hustle! He didn’t want to waste any time. So I drew up the whole story in storyboard form and we’d go to a location and set the scene up with the shooter. Maybe take three shots and then go to another scene
Above: March 1975 pic of the legendary Warren Kremer at his art table in the Harvey offices. Courtesy of Bill Janocha. Below: Warren’s masterpiece, Stumbo the Giant, mighty protector of Tinytown, in a splash panel detail from Devil Kids #20. Though the character’s solo title was relatively short-lived, he remained as permanent back-up in the pages of Hot Stuff. ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc.
Whole Lotta Little Lotta! The charming Sid Couchey recalls 30+ years with Harvey Below: From top, it’s Dot and Champy (the Lake Champlain monster), Richie, and Lotta. Sid Couchey carries the burden. From a ’94 SUNY Plattsburgh Art Museum event postcard announcing an exhibit featuring art by Sid, Garry Trudeau, Reg Smythe, Al Capp, and others. Courtesy of the artist. Characters (except Champy) ©2002 Harvey Entertainment. Art ©2002 Sid Couchey.
Conducted by Shawn Hamilton Transcribed by Sam Gafford Sid Couchey’s unique, quirky and utterly charming drawing style is immediately identifiable in the hundreds of Little Lotta, Richie Rich and Little Dot stories he executed for Harvey Comics between the 1950s and ’80s. Last year, Shawn Hamilton—who works for the North Carolina comic shop franchise, The Great Escape—contacted Ye Ed to suggest an interview with this delightful artist, a suggestion CBA is quite grateful for as surviving Harvey contributors are certainly difficult to come by! Many thanks to Shawn and the artist (especially for the wealth of cool stuff loaned by Mr. Couchey!). This interview was conducted by phone and was copyedited by Sid. Shawn Hamilton: Where are you originally from, Sid? Sid Couchey: I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 24, 1919. We only lived there a short time, just long enough for my father to get acquainted with Tris Speaker, the old Baseball Hall of Famer. So I’ve been a Cleveland Indian fan ever since. Now that we’re living in upstate New York, that’s not easy! We also lived in Saginaw, Michigan, and Champagne, Illinois. But every Summer we came to Essex, New York, in the Adirondacks on Lake Champlain, not far from Lake Placid. We moved back here permanently in 1961. I have a son, Brian, with wife, Suze, and five grandchildren who live in Spartanburg (Inman), South Carolina. Also, a daughter, Laura, and son-in-law, Tony Abate, living in Brunswick, a suburb of Troy, New York. I had done some cartooning on my own but never had any schooling in art except for one year in ninth grade. Before I went to art school, I attended Essex High School and before that I went to school in Champagne for ninth grade where there were 1500 students. Than I came up to Essex and became valedictorian in my high school. (Later on, I met my wife down in New York City, we got married and moved up to Essex where someone told her that there were only five people in my graduating class. Being valedictorian didn’t cut any ice with my wife any more! [laughs]). I heard there was a school for cartoonists in New York City. I applied but it was filled up with ex-GIs, so I went to a general art school that was located in the penthouse of the Flat Iron Building, called the Art Career School. I received a good basic art education which, I found out served me quite well in that they taught me how to—and what to—exaggerate and distort more meaningfully in order to emphasize incongruity in humor. During my lunch I would spend time up on the rooftop looking over New York City and the other art school I would later attend—The School of Visual Arts on 23RD Street. The head man there was Burne Hogarth. We had some good teachers including Tom Gill and Jack Markow. Shawn: Oh, sure Tom Gill drew The Lone
Ranger for Dell! Sid: That’s right. We had a lot of guest speakers come in from time to time. Incidentally, Milton Caniff came and did a demonstration and he was just tops. I asked Mr. Caniff (I was working on an idea for a strip) what he thought the next comics “wave” would be about. He said the comics business was all cyclical and all you can do is to try and anticipate the next cycle. This would be in the ’50s and he said that he personally thought that comic Westerns would be the next big wave. So I drew this strip called Wild West Wilbur. Unfortunately, if there was a bandwagon there, I never got on it! Good schooling there, though. Shawn: It seems that a lot of the people CBA interviews went through that school. It’s amazing some of the talent that came from there. Sid: It’s a great school. They presented and produced all kinds of art and artists. I never realized the latitude they offered. I mean, I look at all the art courses and I am only in one area—cartooning—but there’s such a variety within that umbrella. Caricaturing, comic books, magazine illustrating, fashion, etc. Then throw in the head man, Burne Hogarth, who loved to teach in the classroom. We had a number of classmates who did very well and Jerry Marcus (Trudy) comes to mind. The first art work I got was with a man named John Lehti, who had a daily strip called Tommy of the Big Top. I did his backgrounds for a couple years. Then he got another contract for a Sunday page based on the Bible called Tales from the Great Book. That was in big papers and I also did the backgrounds. These were made in to four comic book issues. Shawn: Was that for Max Gaines at EC? Sid: No. Gaines had a title about the New Testament. (Incidentally, my pastor contributed something to that.) John Lehti was the first real job I had. Then I had some nibbles but the first comic work I did, a five-page strip for “Hoot” Gibson of Fox Studios. Then I found out that Fox went bankrupt and I never got paid! So I had the thrill of having my work published but no check to show. Shawn: Do you know about when that would have been? Sid: That was in the ’50s. It’s listed in the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. It’s interesting but there weren’t many made. I don’t know if you’ve met Dan Busha but I get most of my information from COMIC BOOK ARTIST 19
him. He tells me the “Hoot” Gibson material is fairly well sought after. So after Tommy of the Big Top, Tales from the Great Book and the “Hoot” Gibson stuff, I did a few things for Famous Funnies, specifically Heroic Comics. I found out that in Heroic #70, Frank Frazetta had back-to-back two-page stories with me, both having to do with life-saving stories about heroic firemen. Being up here in Essex, I really wasn’t in touch with what was current and didn’t know, until recently, that Frazetta’s popularity had gone ballistic with fantasy art. One day the Famous Funnies editor called me up and said, “We’re folding, so come in and get your stuff.” I went in and the guy brought me to the storage room and said, “Take whatever you want.” I took my stuff and then I’m looking around at all this other leftover material and I saw Frazetta’s work so I took about six to eight pages of his stuff. The next day the phone rang and I was asked if I had taken my stuff. I said, “Yes.” Their next question, “Did you happen to take any of Frazetta’s pages?” I said, “Yeah, come to think of it, I did.” They said, “You had better bring it in because Frank is really upset.” So I had six to eight pages of Frank Frazetta’s work for about 24 hours! [laughs]. John Lehti used to take me to the National Cartoonists Society meeting that was very interesting. I went once when Rube Goldberg was president and Al Capp, Ham Fisher and Otto Soglow (The Little King) were there along with many others. Shawn: That place was just a Who’s Who of cartooning. Sid: I had the opportunity to join later but was coming up here and thought it wasn’t worth it. Although now, it would be interesting to go down and see how that’s changed and what’s going on these days. Shawn: When you were working at Heroic, were you allowed to sign your own names? Sid: Yes. My stories are in the #60s and #70s. Interesting work. Then along came Harvey and that became my livelihood. Some boys who had been at VA with me said that Harvey was looking for some artists. It wasn’t a project they were interested in. I went over, talked to Leon Harvey, Warren Kremer, Sid Jacobson and went to work. Sid would give me the assignments and, after I worked with the spec sheets, I started drawing Little Lotta and Little Dot. Shawn: I was going to ask you that if you started doing work with Heroic Comics, that obviously wasn’t the same style as Harvey? Your style, even though it fits the spec sheets... I can tell your work when I look at a Harvey book. Sid: That’s good, but it’s also a source of embarrassment because I was very green. When I look at some of that stuff now, I cringe. I would love to go back and substitute some of my recent work for that early stuff! [laughs] Anyway, Warren Kremer blew me away with his versatility and speed. Any artist who has seen him work would say the same thing. I would draw my five pages, Warren would edit or correct them and I would get new work. Then in 1959, I got married June 2002
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to Ruth and they said I could go freelance and mail my assignments in. That’s when we headed back to upstate New York. That being the case, I never really knew any of the other Harvey artists, although I met Howie Post one time in the office but that was about it. I did, of course, work with Sid Jacobson, Warren Kremer and saw Leon Harvey occasionally but didn’t really come in contact with anyone after I left. Shawn: You were saying that when you went in, you met with Warren. Did Warren have a hand in hiring the artists? Sid: I have no evidence of it but I just assumed that if you didn’t pass muster with him, you weren’t hired. They just turned me over to him to begin with to try and shape me up. Shawn: So when new artists came in, he would be the one to look them over and give the okay? Sid: To my knowledge, that’s the way he did it. I never actually saw him do it with anyone else but that was my assumption. From my experience, Warren was the guy who worked with the artists. Shawn: You drew Little Lotta and Little Dot? Sid: That’s right, I did those titles for a while before I did Richie Rich. Shawn: Wasn’t Richie Rich introduced in one of those titles? Sid: Yes, in Little Dot, but that was long before I arrived. I drew Richie Rich from about 1961 or ’62 into the ’70s, but I had drawn Little Dot and Lotta during the ’50s. Anyway, here are some of the experiences I had at Harvey, although it mainly involved getting scripts. I would draw lots of things to amuse myself in the backgrounds. I’d put in signs saying “Essex High School,” ”Willsboro Bowling Alley,” “Lake Champlain Ferry.” All local stuff. I have probably a hundred books that have local references in them. One time, there was this ferry that went between Essex, New York, and Charlotte, Vermont. The Ferry Company got a letter one time saying that they had read in a comic book that Richie Rich had taken a ferry on this local New York to Vermont connection. Curious how Richie got into our area, the company sent the letter to Harvey asking for an explanation. Sid Jacobson apparently checked the files and returned a letter to the affect that Richie was very wealthy, could show up anywhere, and furthermore they had their spy (presumably me) in the area so watch for further “Harvey” activity! [laughter] One time I put a
Inset left: Detail of Lotta by Sid Couchey, the character most closely associated with the artist (though he also drew Little Dot and Richie Rich for as many years). From Richie Rich #7. ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc. Below: The man himself in a recent portrait. Courtesy of Sid.
The Importance of Being Ernie The renowned artist recounts ups and downs at Harvey Inset right: Ernie Colón, master of all comic book genres, in an early 1990s picture. (Look for a new graphic novel from Fantagraphics Books!) Courtesy of Ernie. Inset center: The artist sure drew a mean Richie Rich! Ernie was best known at Harvey for the “serious” RR adventure stories. This detail is from the signed cover of Richie Rich Meets Timmy Time #1. ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc. Below: At Ernie’s request, Richie Rich began to become involved in intrigue and adventure, making his titles much more effective reads. While citing Terry and the Pirates as an inspiration, Ernie says it was the exploits of master European cartoonist Hergé’s Tintin which influenced the change. Here’s the young adventurer and his pup, Snowy. ©2002 Casterman, Paris.
Conducted by Jon B. Cooke Transcribed by Theresa A. Nobile Ernie Colón is one of the most versatile artists ever to work in the comics field. A master of all genres, whether adventure, science-fiction, humor, and (of course) children’s comics, Ernie has freelanced for just about anybody who has published comics, from Gold Key to DC to Marvel to National Lampoon to Heavy Metal to, well, you name it! Prominently featured in CBA #16’s Atlas/Seaboard retrospective (in which he also contributed perhaps the finest cover ever to grace this mag, proving that his technique and design skills are as sharp as ever!), Ernie discussed his background and post-Harvey career in that issue. As promised, here’s our interview on Harvey Comics with the “other great Richie Rich artist”! This interview, one of many conversations EC has had with Ye Ed (who finds the artist to be one of the most insightful—and passionate—thinkers in the field), was conducted by phone and later copy edited by the artist. Comic Book Artist: What made you first go over to Harvey? Ernie Colón: When I got out of high school, I could not get any jobs in any of the comic houses that survived that horrible Wertham purge of the mid-’50s. So I worked in factories as a messenger boy and so forth and then saw an ad in The New York Times looking for a letterer at Harvey Publications. By then, I was already 24 years old and had not gotten a single art job in all that time since graduating high school. So I went up to Harvey and got a job as a letterer and lasted about 15 minutes. [laughter] Leon Harvey took one look at my work and said, “You are no letterer!” So I started packing up my stuff and getting ready to leave when Alfred Harvey’s wife, Vicki, who I had known before when she had dated a friend of mine, went into her husband’s office and said, “Don’t let this guy go, because he can draw! The hell with the lettering!” So they took me on as a paste-up guy and at night I practiced drawing Richie mostly but also Casper, Little Dot and all these characters. The end of that first year, they felt I was good enough to go freelance. That was the beginning for me. CBA: Was Joe Rosen the letterer at the time? Ernie: Yes, but they were so busy, the comics were selling so well—
Richie Rich was selling a million copies a month—that work had to be pumped out fast. Well, that meant they needed more people but I was not one to letter! [laughter] I still am not. CBA: Do you know who they got to take the letterer position? Ernie: They hired a couple of guys but they were there a short time. I never remembered their names. Joe was the mainstay. The guy was a complete work horse. Unbelievable! CBA: Did you ever see Joe come in? Ernie: He was kind of a spook, an extremely quiet person, the quietest guy I ever knew in my life. If you did not address him, he would never say anything to you! He would sit there with a pipe in his mouth all day along. It’s a wonder his head didn’t fall off. CBA: Was he a cartoonist? Ernie: As far as I know, he did not draw anything, he just lettered day in, day out, hour after hour. He was unbelievable. CBA: Can you recognize his style over other letterers? Ernie: Oh yeah, I think so. That was easy, he had a very fluid easy style. CBA: I noticed when Joe went over to work for Marvel in the early ’70s, he lettered really small. I could always tell Joe had worked on a story because of the tiny lettering, which was much smaller than his brother Sam’s. Ernie: He was used to lettering small because, at Harvey, we always had an eight-panel page, while every other publisher used a six-panel page. We all objected to it but the Harveys just would not let loose with that. They felt that kids should get more for their quarter. CBA: As a kid, were you at all interested in Harvey Comics? Ernie: Prior to joining them? No, I didn’t know much about them. CBA: When you came on, did you immediately realize that some of the material was of high quality? Ernie: Oh, sure! Mostly because of Warren Kremer’s work! Warren is the master craftsman of comics. The guy was like an architect. His drawings were so careful, so beautiful, I always hated for any inker to go over his pencils because the pages were just masterful! He was amazing and was an open book. He would sit down with me and tell me everything he knew. He shared everything openly. He was a wonderful mentor. I had never had one before. I had never really gone to art school. I consider the time I spent at Art and Design a complete waste. CBA: Warren’s career went back a ways, right? COMIC BOOK ARTIST 19
Ernie: He went back into the ’30s, I think. CBA: What was it about his work specifically that makes it be a step above the others? Ernie: The best example that I can give is that when he was given the assignment for “Stumbo the Giant,” he just worked wonders on that strip. Such an astonishing achievement! Astonishing because here again you have an eight-panel page with a giant so big, he’s using a mountain to relax on. Plus you have little village with tiny people, okay? You got to adhere to this eight-panel page, story after story, and when you look at Warren’s work on “Stumbo,” I challenge any artist in the business to have a more innovative approach! To take a blind script and not look at Warren’s interpretation, I doubt anybody could come close! When you look at Warren’s covers, you realize that he knew how to take advantage of every inch of space so that the design was perfectly balanced and looked beautiful. He is a complete master of comic book art. CBA: Warren is renowned for drawing “Stumbo,” Hot Stuff and Richie Rich? Ernie: Oh yeah! And I don’t think anyone drew Casper as well as he did, including me, to say the least. CBA: For me, new to the study of Harvey Comics, it can be difficult to tell you and Warren apart. For years, I assumed that certain stories by Warren were yours because, well, I later realized you were deeply influenced by Warren. Ernie: That’s true. In the early years, I tried to draw exactly like Warren because I admired him so much. But, as any artist should start out by copying the work of people they admire, whether an old master or a talented newcomer, you use it as a spring board and develop your own style. The ones that I consider cannibals are the ones who copy someone like Neal Adams and then don’t get out of it. They just keep tracing Neal Adams. I did copy Warren Kremer for a time and then went off on my own. If you’re drawing Richie Rich, it has to look like Richie Rich, and Warren developed that look. (Although, we did get a few people in there that really could not draw well and they strayed pretty far from the look of the characters.) CBA: So Warren’s design was obviously the quintessential Richie Rich? Ernie: Yes, Warren’s character designs were the standard. CBA: Now when you first came out who were the writers? Ernie: There was Ralph Newman. The guy was unbelievable! He spewed out stories and most of them were good. Most of them were quite good, and I don’t know how he did it. CBA: Did you look at any of the characters with irony? These are children’s comics featuring a dead boy floating around as a ghost, a billionaire little kid, a girl witch, and even a devil baby! [laughter] Ernie: The only irony that I found in it was that I often found myself needing money, yet I was drawing these stories with a kid who had so much money! That’s what I hated the most! [laughter] But, overall all, I didn’t see the irony, because it’s the same way that I felt as a June 2002
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kid, I loved Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates so much that I would cut out the strips, paste them up and keep them for a while. But, you know, it took me the longest time to realize, “Hey! There’s no pirates in the damn story!” CBA: I never really thought about that either! You’re right! [laughter] Ernie: It didn’t matter. You just accepted the characters as they were, without question. With Casper, we made a conscious effort not to refer to death in any way. I know in the early movies he used to come out of a grave or something, that he once was a little boy, and I thought that was horrible! [laughter] That must have scared the crap out of the kids, you know? But with us, he just existed, with no reference at all to what happened previously to make him that way. So any kid reading the books, just took it for granted that Casper was always a living ghost. CBA: I remember the Casper cartoons as being somewhat grim at times… Casper would come floating out of the grave, and scare the bejeezus out of some hapless mortals. [laughter] But I didn’t really make a conscious connection between the cartoon character of the late ’40s to this wholesome comic book character. I know that sounds strange, but it was true. The cartoons were strange, but the comics were always cheerful and felt wholesome, you know? Ernie: Casper didn’t have legs in the cartoons either! As I remember, we put legs on him. CBA: What were the Harvey brothers like? Ernie: The oldest was Bob, a kind man who handled the money end. Leon and Alfred were fraternal twins. When Robert died the company began to go downhill. CBA: When did Robert die? Ernie: I don’t remember exactly, but I had been there maybe five years or so when he died. He was a very nice man. Then these two guys went after each other’s throats. Alfred was handicapped by a brain tumor and it affected him, I think, in many, many different ways. He began to argue with his brother and berate Leon publicly. Screaming at him. Things just began to get worse and worse. They began to sue each other. In came the lawyers and it became one of these cases where the money began to run out and suddenly there were no more lawyers. The way of the world. So they sued each other into bankruptcy. They got in trouble
Above and below: The first two pages of a typical Richie Rich adventure drawn by Ernie Colón. From Richie Rich Bank Book #5. ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc.
Howie’s Hot Stuff! Howard Post recalls days both happy and hellacious at Harvey
Inset center: Howard Post’s sassy rendition of Hot Stuff was the quintessential depiction of our favorite little devil. This panel detail was taken from one of the hundreds of Hot Stuff stories written and drawn by Howard. ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc.
Below: Howard Post was enormously influenced by legendary cartoonist Walt Kelly, well before Pogo would bring Walt international acclaim. You can see the inspiration in this detail of Howard’s cover art for More Fun Comics #121 (1947). Courtesy of Steve Leialoha. ©2002 DC Comics.
Conducted by Chris Knowles and Jon B. Cooke Transcribed by Steve Cohen While artist Howard Post gave us a career-spanning interview in Comic Book Artist #5 (just reprinted in the second CBA Collection), it’s our great pleasure to revisit this delightful cartoonist for a chat about Harvey Comics (and quite a few other subjects!). CBA associate editor Chris Knowles visited Howie one afternoon earlier this year in the artist’s New Jersey studio. Ye Ed followed up with numerous questions in a very recent phone conversation. The final transcript—delivered at the 11th hour (thanks for your patience, Mr. Post!)—was copy edited by Howard. Comic Book Artist: Besides comic book work, you also worked in animation? Howard Post: About 40 years ago, I was doing storyboards on a series for King Features, cartoons for television. I was the chief storyboard artist, cartoonist, writer and bottle-washer. [laughter] There I met and worked with Seymour Kneitel, the director/producer of Paramount Cartoon Studios, but he died in 1964, and I entered the competition for that position and got the job! But I was stupid because I turned down the animation work on The Beatles’ animated movie, Yellow Submarine, though they were begging me to do it, and gave it to a friend of mine, Jack Mendelsohn, and it’s been Jack’s major credential ever since. It's carried him all through Hollywood, and gotten him big money deals and things of that sort. Anyway, the director/producer job was a pleasure, because I was dealing with a lot of animators, whom I had to advise, cajole, stroke, and master over. Some of these guys were embittered because 20 years before I had been working for them as an underling, as an inbetweener, so when I came over there as a director, I got into a helluva fight. Really! I called a meeting, and I said, “Gentlemen, I recognize your attitudes, and if my abilities don’t produce anything substantial within a couple of months, I'll walk out of here on my own power. But If you
don't show me anything, the same rule will apply to you." So I was being Mr. Nice Guy, but wasn't taking any sh*t from them, either. When I was ultimately fired from that job, the animators told me that I was the best director that they ever had. I knew I had a feeling for humor writing and things of that nature, and most of those guys were great technicians or were great money men, but none of them knew all the facets of animation. CBA: Did you work simultaneously with Harvey during your time at Paramount? Howard: I was drawing the Harvey material while already writing on the side for the King Features TV cartoon series, and for anything Paramount Studios did. My work was basically to storyboard, and that was a step into a whole, new beautiful thing, because, you know, I could write, and put all the visual aspects on paper. So the transition from comic books to storyboards was very easy. CBA: I have found animation storyboarding more difficult because of timing, and you have to draw very small. Howard: Right. You would normally have to draw small, unless you got oversize storyboard paper, which I did. I got the biggest there was because I liked the space, and that was a great, delightful thing. Somehow, I graduated to producing a comic strip, The Dropouts, which ran for about 15 years. CBA: I see that you work in a lot of styles. Anthro is very different from The Dropouts and Hot Stuff. Howard: Yeah, I did just about every style there is. CBA: The Dropouts reminds me of Johnny Hart. Howard: Well, Johnny Hart was my competition! CBA: But, to be honest with you, yours is a lot better drawn! [laughs] That was the style in the early ’70s, wasn't it? Howard: If you look at Johnny’s work, he’s a little more design oriented than I am. I was still doing, what you could call “cartooning with a K.” Big noses, you know, “schnozzes,” big feet, and stuff like that. Johnny really was more advanced with the design than I was. My humor in The Dropouts revolved around a couple of guys, with two distinct personalities—an intellectual and a pragmatist—who were stranded on a desert island. I created that strip after I noticed there were a lot of gags about castaways in the various joke books that were around in those days. Prior to The Dropouts, I had just been turned down by the New York Daily News when I pitched them my Anthro newspaper strip presentation. My friend John Prentice actually told me to submit it to Carmine Infantino at DC Comics, where it lasted as a title for a few issues. I shared space with John (who drew the syndicated newspaper strip Rip Kirby) and, for close to 25 years, we were studio mates. COMIC BOOK ARTIST 19
CBA: In Manhattan? Howard: Right. John was from the Deep South, from Freer, Texas, and he brought his Southern culture with him and I brought my New York City culture with me. When we'd order up lunch by phone from a Kosher deli named Gittler's on Broadway, I'd say, “John, you can order me a corned beef on rye.” Then I'd hear him ordering his sandwich: “I'll have the smoked beef on white toast, with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato.” That was a pastrami sandwich for him! It was completely ignorant of what delicatessen food is in New York, but John was fun. We were close friends, and I had to give the eulogy at his funeral. CBA: When did John pass away? Howard: About five years ago. He was in the regular Navy, in fact, at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. John was below deck, fixing asbestos flooring, and he apparently just inhaled too much of that stuff, because that's what eventually killed him. He was, I think, 79 when he died, so he would have lived to a thousand if he had not inhaled that material. CBA: Seventy-nine is a nice age to make it to for a lot of folks. Howard: Not when you're 78! [laughter] CBA: Anthro is such a completely different style… Howard: Completely different. I had just written it and was rejected by the syndicates (for being too cerebral!), John said, “Why don't you try that on Carmine?” So I ran up to DC, where Carmine was editorial director, and said "What do you think of this?" Carmine just thumbs through it, looks over the scripts, things like that, and says, “Do it!” I immediately got myself some bristol board, and began storyboarding the series. CBA: Directly onto the actual board? Howard: As soon as I could write it. I was writing and drawing it simultaneously, and those were the roughs that I submitted to Carmine, and he would give the okay—or change it, whatever he wanted—and then I'd go home and clean 'em up, with that pencilly-penny line. CBA: How was it working for Carmine? Howard: Carmine is an artist and is still a friend of mine. He's a great guy. He knows what the hell he's doing, so my experience was a good one. I should tell you that I shared a studio with Alex Toth and Joe Kubert before I got together with John Prentice. It was a small studio on Park Avenue, a little upstairs walk-up flat. I was the big foot artist there. They were straight guys, but they were both giants. So, if you'll forgive me, there were three giants up there. [laughter] I would do anything. I actually did Westerns for DC, when they needed help.... Somebody asked, “Do you do Westerns?” and I said, “Yeah! Sure!” They put me on a series called “Rodeo Rick,” which I drew for a long time. I love to draw horses and can render realistically when I want to. So I enjoyed that for a while, and they just kept shifting me from one thing to the other. I didn't mind it at all. CBA: Let's just talk a little bit more about Harvey, so Jon Cooke doesn't strangle me. [laughter] How many years did you work there? Howard: Oh God, I'm not really that good with numbers, but would say maybe 15 to 20 years. I June 2002
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brought up two kids on those checks from Harvey. CBA: [Points to Hot Stuff character design] Was this the look you developed? Howard: No, this look was already established by Warren Kremer, who was the true backbone of the entire Harvey operation, the Master Artist of all of the Harvey publications. Warren was there from the “git!” CBA: When you first started in the comics field, did you know of Alfred Harvey and his line of comics? Howard: No. I only knew of Harvey Comics very vaguely. I started in the field with Bernie Baily, a private entrepreneur, who packaged comics for various publications. I didn’t know much about the field at that time; I only knew that Bernie had work and I was supporting a big family and needed the job. CBA: When did you start your association with Harvey? Howard: Sometime in the early 1950s. I worked for Sid Jacobson, who was always there, and I drew Spooky and Hot Stuff. I also wrote and drew one- and two-page fillers featuring all the other characters, Little Lotta, Little Dot, Richie and Casper. I did fillers of any kind, really. I would come up with the gag, pitch it to Sid, he’d say okay, and I’d do the pages that were required. CBA: How did you pitch Sid? Did you draw a thumbnail? Howard: I didn’t have to draw anything. I would just verbally pitch the gag to him. CBA: Did you pitch by phone or did you frequent the office? Howard: I was at the office very frequently. I would go there maybe two or three times a week. CBA: Did you socialize with the staffers at all? Howard: Oh, yeah! Sid and I were friends, and Ernie Colón and I were tight. Ken Selig and I used to kick around now and then (and, in fact, we still do!). We were all close friends with Warren Kremer. Though we don’t get together often enough these days, we do have an annual Harvey picnic at Warren’s place every June. We get together, have lunch, and yak. There’ll be additional friends from outside the business and we all sit around, talk, and have
Above: Writer/artist Howard Post ventures into Anthro territory as Hot Stuff travels back to prehistoric times in a story from “The Land of Long Ago,” in Devil Kids #15. ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc. Below: It’s tough finding pictures of the artist, but Harvey editor Sid Jacobson kindly loaned me this profile of Howard Post, taken while both were contributing to Marvel’s Star Comics line.
Harvey Wasn’t All Humor Michelle examines ten titles defying memory and explanation by Michelle Nolan
Above: Was Invisible Scarlet O’Neil a female version of Dick Tracy, only without the yellow fedora? The presence of brutal violence, bizarre villains and a straight arrow hero sure makes one think! ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc.
A funny thing happened on the way to Harvey Comics becoming known as a leader in the field of children’s humor. Harvey Comics were far from funny in most of their pre-Comics Code productions. Most people who began reading comics in the first quarter century of the post-Code era probably think of Harvey as the most onedimensional comic book company from 1955-79, including the years when Harvey enjoyed the height of its success. Harvey published 13 humor characters who became icons— funny figures that virtually every baby boomer will remember, even people who didn’t read a lot of comic books. Try it. Ask any non-collector from 35 to 55 years old if they remember (in alphabetical order) Baby Huey, Blondie, Casper, Dagwood, Felix the Cat, Hot Stuff, Little Audrey, Little Dot, Little Lotta, Richie Rich, Sad Sack, Spooky and Wendy the Good Little Witch. I’ll bet he or she remembers almost all of them. Not for nothing did Harvey’s advertising refer to “Famous Name” comics. Harvey, however, was a much different company in the 1941-54 era. The vast majority of the Harvey comics of those years have long since been forgotten, although some of them are avidly sought by collectors for a variety of reasons. Harvey was among the most versatile of companies in pre-Code days. You name it, Harvey tried it… super-hero, newspaper reprint comics of every type, romance, war, Western, horror and humor… about the only type of comics Harvey didn’t produce much of were hardcore crime comics. Among its dozens of bestselling comics, Harvey published more than 70 titles, ranging from one-shots to long-running series like Dick Tracy and Joe Palooka, that were in no way related to the company’s iconic humor characters. Let’s talk about ten of the most unusual and atypical of these titles. All but one were published during a convoluted decade of confusion and chaos, exploration and exploitation in comics—the 194656 era. The tenth title we will explore, the 1957-61 Phantom issues of Harvey Hits, in its own way was the most unusual title of all. How many of you are familiar with the long-forgotten Babe Ruth Sports Comics, the unusual mid-1950s Black Cat Western, the unique Captain 3-D, Harvey’s failed attempt at popularizing Flash Gordon, the ground-breaking Harvey Comic Hits, the hilariously sleazy Harvey Comics Library, the nothing-like-it Invisible Scarlet
O'Neil, the intriguing Man in Black and the high-caliber capers of Stuntman. Here, then, is the Harvey you may never have heard about: Babe Ruth Sports #1-11 (1949-51)—When Street & Smith left the comics business in 1949 after nearly a decade of publishing the 50-issue run of True Sport Picture Stories (known as Sport Comics for its first four issues), several companies tried to pick up the sports slack. The longest-running exclusively non-fiction effort was Babe Ruth Sports, which ran 11 issues and was not surprisingly the namesake of the best-known player in baseball history. Babe Ruth had been retired for nearly 15 years—and dead for a year—when this comic hit the stands in 1949, but virtually every boy in the country knew about the legendary slugger when Harvey licensed the name. If a comic book named after George Herman Ruth couldn’t succeed, well, then there just wasn’t much of a market for sports comics. In fact, that is what Harvey discovered, despite turning in an admirable attempt. BLACK CAT WESTERN #54-56 (1955)—There were several unsuccessful attempts at reviving or creating costumed heroes in the three years before Showcase #4 began the Silver Age with the revival of The Flash in 1956. Only two of these attempts involved titles starring a super-female—and when Black Cat first came back, the Ajax version of Phantom Lady already was nearly gone. Black Cat #54, the first reappearance of glamorous judo expert and film star Linda Turner since 1951, hit the stands in 1955 as part of Harvey’s hastily converted line of horror titles. When these three issues appeared—consisting entirely of nifty Black Cat reprints by Lee Elias along with retouched covers—there was absolutely nothing remotely like them in comic books. Indeed, DC even seemed to have “retired” Batman’s foe Catwoman in 1954 and would not create Batwoman until 1956. But even though Black Cat had no competition—Wonder Woman was an entirely different type of comic—Linda Turner apparently made no impact whatsoever on the comic book market. Today, these three issues are fairly tough to find and would be even tougher were it not for the Harvey file copies that hit the market in the 1980s. Interestingly, Harvey marketed these under its logo imprint “A Thrill Adventure” rather than the familiar Harvey logo. Apparently the company felt that the Harvey logo might turn off older readers by this time! CAPTAIN 3-D #1 (1953)—Other than the 3-D issues of Superman and Batman, the original character Captain 3-D was the only super-hero involved in the short-lived 3-D craze. Brainstormed on an emergency basis by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby along with other artists including Mort Meskin at Harvey’s request, Captain 3-D is one of the few one-shot super-hero titles. Not only did Captain 3-D appear a couple of months “late” during the short-lived 3-D comics craze, the price tag of 25¢ for a 36page comic represented—at the time—the worst price-point in comic book history. FLASH GORDON #1-4 (1950-51)—When Harvey acquired the license to most of the King Features Syndicate characters after the David McKay company left comics in 1949, Harvey struck it rich in 1950 with Blondie and her Harvey-originated spin-off title devoted to Dagwood. But Harvey also struck out with Flash Gordon, despite reprinting handsome Alex Raymond Sunday pages that originally were reprinted in McKay’s King Comics. Harvey’s Flash Gordon, appearing in 1950-51, by rights should have succeeded, or at least should have lasted longer. The Flash COMIC BOOK ARTIST 19
Harvey Gets Simonized Talking with the Harvey Thriller editor, comics legend Joe Simon Conducted by Jon B. Cooke
Below: Imagine Ye Ed’s shock when rummaging through some delightful contributions from CBA pal Andrew Steven to find what we believe is an unpublished Wally Wood cover for Harvey’s Warfront title. Yow! Ain’t she a beaut? Thanks, Andrew! Art ©2002 Wally Wood Estate.
Joe Simon is one of the most legendary figures in the history of American comic books. Half of the most successful creative team in the industry—Simon & Kirby—Joe also had a notable career as an editor, significantly landing a position periodically at Harvey Comics to helm their various attempts at jump-starting adventure comics. For a more complete picture of Joe’s Harvey experiences, we implore readers to seek out the forthcoming revised edition of Joe and son Jim Simon’s wonderful insider’s history of the field, The Comic Book Makers (newly designed by Ye Ed!), to be published by Vanguard Productions. This E-mail interview took place at the last minute and we thank Joe for his gracious patience and prompt turnaround. Comic Book Artist: Your soon-to-be reprinted book, The Comic Book Makers, relates your editorial experience at Harvey as follows: “It was 1957. My friend Al Harvey said he was glad to have me join his company, Harvey Publications. I soon went to work turning out a new line of adventure comics… My assignment was to turn out six new titles on a regular bi-monthly basis, starting out without
one solitary artist or writer… The titles we came up with were Alarming Tales, Spyman, Race for the Moon, Black Cat Mystic, Warfront, and Man In Black.” I believe you are blending in two separate time periods here, as Alarming Tales, Race for the Moon, Black Cat Mystery, and Man in Black were released in 1957-58. Joe Simon: I’ll accept that the time periods in TCBM you cite are not accurate. Though it would take time to check it completely, let’s accept your version since you’re rushed and it’s not a big issue for me. CBA: As you wrote in your book, your relationship with the Harvey brothers goes back to the early days of comics. Can you describe your friendship? Joe: I was very good friends with Alfred, Robert and Leon Harvey, a friendship that lasted throughout my life. [Joe’s relationship with Alfred is covered in detail in TCBM] Robert was an accountant. Leon was... hell, he tried. They were both very nice. CBA: You went into a business venture with Alfred as he was starting as a publisher. The idea was small magazines called Pocket Comics, which you said in TCBM might have failed at the newsstand because kids were apparently stealing the things. After that debacle, did you remain in close contact with Alfred? Joe: I wouldn’t call Pocket Comics a “debacle.” It didn’t exactly bomb, it just did not achieve the high hopes and expectations we had. And, yes, Alfred and I remained friends. CBA: Can you describe, in general terms, your arrangement with Harvey regarding the initial Simon & Kirby books, Stuntman and Boy Explorers? Was the general state of the industry the cause for those title’s rapid cancellation? Joe: That’s correct; it was the general state of the industry, as I described in TCBM. CBA: By the late 1940s, you and Jack Kirby were deeply involved with the Crestwood/Prize romance titles. What brought you over to Harvey to have them publish Boys’ Ranch? Joe: Jack and I had a 50/50 partnership with Harvey and we realized this was a chance to do something we loved. CBA: Though you worked on Harvey’s Captain 3-D, were you skeptical that the 3-D craze would be short-lived even as you received the call from Alfred and, if so, did you discuss it with him? Joe: Yes, we discussed it. I foresaw that kids wouldn’t be interested except for an initial curiosity. The 3-D process in comics was developed by St. John Publications and their first editions did spectacularly well, but then the field just as suddenly died. Harvey bought up an entire factory of 3-D glasses so he was stuck with the genre until he COMIC BOOK ARTIST 19
High Camp Harvey
Thrilling Harvey Heroes Lou Mougin gets the lowdown on Joe Simon’s adventure line by Lou Mougin
Above: Harvey Thriller logo. ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc.
Below: Cover detail from DoubleDare Adventures #2, starring the villain-turned-hero, B-Man! What a costume! Art by Joe Simon. ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc.
Comic Book Artist is proud, once again, to feature a chapter of Lou Mougin’s history of the super-hero comics of the 1960s, this one looking at Joe Simon’s Harvey Thriller line. As noted in the preface to Lou’s Tower Comics article in CBA #14, this irreverent look at those high camp heroes includes some opinions this perhaps more charitable editor doesn’t necessarily agree with. That quibble aside, we need to add that, as this article is reprinted from The Comics Reader #200, way back in 1982, there are some dated references (a few which we annotated). Our thanks to Lou for his kind permission to use this entertaining piece and we look forward to reprising his essays on Gold Key, Mighty Comics and the smaller publishers in coming issues. To some of us, Comic Book Trivia has become a High Art. The proof of this lies in the publication of The Pow! Wham! Zap Comic Book Trivia Quiz, an over-sized paperback in which authors Michael Uslan and Bruce Solomon mine your trivia quotient with 1001 questions about super-heroes. For the most part, the book’s quizzes are devoted to Marvel and DC heroes. (Who else is around these days, anyway?) Want to have some fun with a trivia “expert”? See how many diehard comic buffs can handle this list of questions:
1. What was the name of the evil organization Spyman battled? What was this name an acronym for? 2. Name the super-group that appeared in Unearthly Spectaculars and identify three of its members. 3. What was Jack Quick Frost’s deadly weakness? 4. How did astronaut Barry E. Eames become the villainous B-Man? If you flunked this quiz abysmally, don’t feel too bad. The questions are based on one of the most obscure lines of super-hero comics in existence, the Harvey Thriller Group. That’s right, folks, the same company that gave you a zillion different Richie Rich titles, the group that scooped supernatural heroes Iike the Spectre and Deadman with… Casper and Spooky(?)… was among the many comics groups who took a crack at the super-hero market in 1966. 88
Harvey Comics unleashed a scattergun blast of seven new books, backed by their considerable financial punch and distribution power. Chances are that wherever you were in 1966, if you could find a comic rack there was at least one “Harvey Thriller” in it. And yet only one of them ever made it to a third issue in its original format. Most of the books were so bizarre that they could easily have won a special Funk Award from Carl Marcek and John Wooley for Esoteric Heroism. And yet, and yet… there was some talent in those comics, some outstanding stuff not obvious from those over-crowded, over-blurbed, overdrawn covers. They’re still available from many large dealers, but fandom apparently knows little about them. So, privileged ones, listen while we tell the little-known lore of the Harvey Back-Seat Heroes. Attend, and gain trivial information available nowhere else today, hidden for 36 long years. And then, when some smart guy slops you with the question, “Where did Tiger Boy’s parents originally came from?” you may confidently answer back, “Either from Jupiter or Venus, smart guy!” Ask a fan today what Harvey Comics produced. Nine times out of ten, you’ll get the same answer: Richie Rich. Sad Sack. Casper. Ever since the early ’50s, this brand of fantasy-whimsy has been Harvey’s bread and butter, initially prompted by Harvey’s inheritance of the licensing rights to the Paramount cartoon characters from St. John’s (Casper, Little Audrey, Baby Huey, et al.), eventually resulting in Harvey’s purchase of the cartoon studio and all the characters. For years, chances are that the first fictional ghosts a child encountered were one of Harvey’s pseudo-spectres like Spooky, the bederby’d, freckled, Jimmy Cagney-style “tuff little ghost” with a Brooklyn accent, or Hot Stuff, a pint-sized demon in diapers who runs around spitting fire and brandishing a pitchfork. (And you thought Daimon Hellstrom was original.) It’s a territory Harvey has staked out completely, a genre which made them a viable and surviving comic book company even up until the troubled early ’80s. But, long before the first silly-putty spook ever graced a Harvey page, the company was paying its dues as another Golden Age superhero publisher. Modern fans will recognize their most famous creation, Lee Elias’s super-sexy Black Cat. This archetypical femme crimefighter debuted in a 1940 issue of Speed Comics and went on to a long and successful run in her own book. Harvey also adapted the legendary radio hero Green Hornet to the four-color medium. Other original Harvey heroes included Shock Gibson, Captain Freedom, the Girl Commandos and Stuntman. This last hero was the work of none other than Golden Age comic kings Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, who worked extensively for Harvey in the wake of the super-heroes’ downfall. Harvey turned to horror in the 1950s with a vengeance. Their covers for titles such as Witches’ Tales were the most stomach-turning of all time. A gallery of full-color decapitated heads used as bellclappers and kids whose face and hands were in the process of being burned clean of their flesh fronted some of their books. Fun stuff, indeed. The Comics Code rang in the curtain on this period in 1954. In the meantime, Simon & Kirby turned out minor classics for the line, including the famed “kid gang” books, Boy Explorers and Boys’ Ranch, innumerable science-fiction/fantasy stories, and the 3-D hero named—what else?— Captain 3-D. About the time of the Code crackdown, Harvey seized on the funny animal market (or should that be funny-ghost market?). Casper, the Friendly Ghost, who had debuted in a series of Paramount animated cartoons, had run for five issues in a St. John’s COMIC BOOK ARTIST 19
comic published between 1949-51. When St. John’s let the Paramount licensing lapse, Harvey picked it up, bringing the Friendly Ghost out of limbo in ’52. Since then and into the ’90s, Casper and his fairy tale friends ran somewhat continuously, through various cancellations and relaunches, with Casper himself logging over 300 issues of his own comic with numerous annual spin-offs, and an entire phantom empire of comics had been built on his gravesite. Just as Archie saved MLJ comics, Casper become the cornerstone for Harvey’s super-success. And, like Archie, the gregarious ghostling seems virtually immortal… even though the over-killed Richie Rich eventually pushed him out of the limelight. Even so, Harvey periodically put out feelers towards the post-pablum readership. Black Cat Mystery, a weird-story book taking over the numbering of Black Cat, appeared periodically until 1958, with some notable work by Simon & Kirby, Bob Powell and Howard Nostrand. (In 1963, three issues of the book appeared as Black Cat in giant-size featuring reprints of the Black Cat’s late ’40s Lee Elias-drawn adventures.) Another mystery book, Alarming Tales, featured six issues of similar stories, chiefly by Simon & Kirby. Again, in 1963 the book revived in the form of Alarming Adventures, which ran three issues. The book featured superb science-fiction work by Al Williamson and Reed Crandall, and is highly recommended; quite a few of its stories were reprinted later on in Harvey’s giant super-hero books. (Also reaching for the older audience were Harvey’s two long-running comic strip-reprint books, Dick Tracy, which ran through 1961, and Joe Palooka, which ended in 1960.) In 1965, Harvey gave the adventure market another try with a trio of summer one-shots: Unearthly Spectaculars, Thrill-O-Rama and Blast-Off. All were books containing stories either published or prepared in the ’50s. All cover-featured a “name” character. And all lasted in that form for only one issue apiece. In these books are found the roots of Harvey’s 1966 super-hero stint, for they were headlined by The Man in Black, Tiger Boy and The Three Rocketeers. The bulk of Unearthly #1 was taken up by four weird tales. The fifth was actually no different, being another science-fiction story entitled “Will Power.” But the book needed a super-hero figure to plaster across the cover, so said cover depicted a tiger with a boy’s head forming from the remains of a multi-eyed plant, about to spring on two hopelessly outclassed guards. (You think it sounds weird? You ought to see it!) The blurb above the logo. read, “We defy you to guess his amazing secret… Tiger Boy from Twilight!” “Will Power” oozed clichés common to most post-Code fantasy stories. Child prodigy Paul Canfield shows off mind-overmatter powers, including levitation, transmutation of a garden into gold, the transformation of himself into an asbestos-skinned giant and, yes, a human-headed tiger. When the smug lad decides to rule the world with his powers, his parents reveal themselves as aliens from Jupiter with ridiculous rabbit-ear antennae, clock-face eyes and noses like hollow pipes. After promptly negating his powers, Paul’s daddy explains, “25 years ago, we disagreed with Jupiter’s rulers… so we were cast adrift in a space vehicle, exiled forever! We searched the universe for years… till we found this planet!” (Searching a whole universe to find a habitable planet in your own solar system sounds counter-productive at best.) “Do we remain as peaceful citizens… or must we seek out another planet where you can do no harm?” Naturally, Paul agrees to lay off the cosmic hanky-panky until his second adventure, over a year later, in Unearthly Spectaculars #2. In this well-drawn Gil Kane five-pager, the all-Jovian boy foiled a bank robbery with all-new powers. Not only could (and did) he become Tiger Boy, but when the occasion demanded, he changed into the robotic Steel Man and the elastic Rubberman, à là Robby Reed in “Dial H for Hero.” In this go-round, his parents looked like giant insects, were described as “Venutian” on page four, and “from Jupiter” on page five, and confessed that Paul had a long-lost sister. When and if he met her, their powers would automatically do them both in. Luckily for Paul, the series ended with that issue. “The Man in Black Called Fate,” superior by far to “Tiger Boy,” led off the first issue of Thrill-ORama with two fine reprints of Bob Powell work from the 1957-58 comic Man in Black. The hero, a black-cloaked, shadow-faced man in evening dress, introduced himself on page one: “Greetings! I am the Man in Black! Some call me Fate… some Kismet, and others Luck! But to you, I am the Man in Black! And I will show you the amazing part I play in your life! These two lovely ladies,” he said, gesturing to the Grecian-garbed beauties flanking him, “are Venus, the Goddess of Love, and the Weaver—she who weaves the patterns of Iife!” “Stop yakking, M.B.,” interjected Weaver, “and step into that little bit going on below… before Venus pokes her pretty nose into it and really gums it up!” Above inset: Wally Wood’s wacky super-hero team, Miracles, Inc., looked promising with the strip’s debut in the legendary Unearthly Spectaculars #2. Right: But the best strip in that ish was Woody’s sublime art job on “Earthman,” featuring a Terran who’s forgotten his identity, lost on a barbaric planet. ©2002 Harvey Ent., Inc. June 2002
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Above: Look, kids! It’s the “Deadliest Creature in all the World,” Pirana with his two buddies, Bara and (yep!) Cuda! Jack Sparling provided the art for this panel detail from the last issue of Thrill-O-Rama, #3. ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc.
Above: But the hands-down winner for the weirdest character in the Harvey Thriller line-up has gotta be Jigsaw, “the Man of a Thousands Parts.” A humorless Plastic Man or a Mr. Fantastic of nominal intelligence, this guy is plain strange! What is that fleshy substance between the jigsaw pieces on his outstretched arms? Human flesh??? Detail of Joe Simon’s cover art from Jigsaw #2. ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc. 92
Plastic Man-fashion. “You have made the first dent in Pulotian armor, Earthman!” commends Si-Krell. “You must call him Jigsaw,” admonished the girl. So much for origins. In the next issue, Jigsaw represents Earth in on “Interplanetary Olympics” for, as Si-KrelI puts it, “Since we repaired your body, you have become famed throughout the galaxy!” Well, maybe so, but in the U.S., he was kinda lame…. This rather silly story, pitting the hero against a two-legged; armless, red blob, marked the last issue of Jigsaw. Small wonder. In addition to their 12¢ comics, Harvey boasted two giant-sized 25¢ super-hero books. Each issue of these had three “name” heroes and a handful of featurettes and reprints making them real bargains for a mere quarter. The first of these, Double-Dare Adventures, was headlined by the Harvey hero who wasn’t, the one-and-only B-Man. B-Man’s origin story wasn’t any fun whatsoever. In fact, for painful origins, only the Spectre can go him one better. After hijacking a Martian meteorite, astronaut Barry E. Eames—note those initials— gloats, “The space big shots will have to pay me big, if they want to know what’s inside her!” We found out in short order. The damn thing cracks open and a horde of giant bees swarms out to sting the living daylights out of him! Two days later, Eames is found wandering about in a zombie-like state and is packed off to a local hospital where he recuperates. “Strange,” remarks one doctor. “His heartbeat is triple the pace of a normal one… but it doesn’t seem to be hurting him! Whatever happened to this man, it changed his whole body chemistry!” Eames gets a “buzz” summons from the meteorite, escapes from the hospital and climbs inside the hollow shell, which closes about him and whisks him into space. (Harvey writers seemed to have a thing about space-born origins.) After landing on Mars’ moon Deimos, Eames encounters a race of insectoid beings who bred the giant worker bees within the meteorite. “And now their venom is in your veins, Earthling,” explains a general. “You have their powers!” The Bee, as he comes to be called, is outfitted with a protective costume, antennae that project sonic bursts, powerful insect wings, a drug-tipped stinger and “vapor-honey grenades that puts [sic] attackers to steep instantly! I’m ready… to return and raid Earth!” And for the last three pages of the tale, that’s
just what B-Man does, while putting the whup on the U.S. Army. His only weakness was that he went limp if he didn’t get a daily fix of honey. (Now, would I make up a thing like that?) A two-page text feature immediately followed. Entitled “The Bee Line,” the story told of B-Man’s interruption of a TV program to explain his motives to the world: “The Bee here,” then with an expression of grim scorn, he continued. “My worthy deeds will force all Earthlings to surrender to my superior world. Many of your great scientists have predicted that one day, insects will rule the Earth. You laughed and called them crazy, but I shall prove that they were right. The day is not far away when insects will indeed rule the humans of Earth. You will become our slaves and solve many of our problems— one of which is labor. The entire human race, what is left of it that is, will become slaves of my race… You will fulfill the duties of our ‘worker bees.’ You will become my slaves. Any questions?” The program announcer.cried out, “Yes, I’m sure we have many things to ask The Bee about. I’ll call upon our studio audience!” Wonder what their ratings were the next week? Or what prices the scalpers were asking for studio tickets? In the second issue of Double-Dare, a Dick Ayers-drawn story (Bill Draut had done the first) saw B-Man return to Deimos, where he met the beautiful Queen Bea (!). After she discloses her plans to conquer Earth with his help, the Bee rebels, runs for home, gets invited into the F-Bee-I (that’s the way they spelled it, folks)—they must have missed that TV show in the text story—and starts cleaning up on crooks. Deimosians destroy B-Man’s cache of honey, but Yankee ingenuity saves the day: J. Edgar’s science-boys dream up a synthetic honey concentrate to snap the rampaging Bee back to normal. As derivative as the two-shot strip was (much lifted, seemingly, from Archie’s Fly Man), B-Man wasn’t that bad for a Harvey hero, and showed a little promise as a continuing feature. At least as much as a guy with fifty plastic fingers or a rubberman secret agent from outer space. The fellow who doubled the dare in Double-Dare was introduced on the first page of issue #1, charging full-throttle with sword upraised and wearing enough detailed weaponry to make Deathlok the Demolisher envious. A caption read, “if you can take the thrills and excitement of a journey into the tomb of ancient Egyptian gods… or the return to life, before your very eyes, of a fighting man of 2,000 years ago—then you have taken us up on a Double-Dare—for you have seen—in living color—the Glowing Gladiator!” His first tale, “Legend of the Glowing Gladiator,” seems to be the work of Bob Powell (Jack Sparling took over in issue #2). But the unconventional layouts may be the work of Jim Steranko. At any rate, in the first panel proper of the story, Captain Kidd himself breaks into a museum and rips off an ancient chalice to deliver it to a sinister enthralled figure wearing conquistador’s armor—“The man known only as Destiny.” The inscription cut into the chalice’s surface betrays the location of the fabled, power-granting Amulet of Hannibal. How does Destiny propose to locate the amulet? Well, after giving the time-lost Kidd a day off, he lets his fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages, looks up Adventure, Unlimited, and hires chief troubleshooter Harry Barker to go to Carthage to fetch it. Upon his arrival in the post-Delinda ruins of COMIC BOOK ARTIST 19
Resurrecting The Spirit Will Eisner on his hero’s two-issue revival at Harvey Comics Conducted by Jon B. Cooke
Below: Will Eisner drew this iconic image of The Spirit to promote the character’s Harvey incarnation in 1966. ©2002 Will Eisner.
What to say about Will Eisner? The most significant comics creator in the history of the industry? Creator of the always beloved crimefighter, The Spirit, whose exploits remain in print 50 years later? The living link between the business of mainstream comics and the art of the medium itself? Yes, yup, and sure, but Will is also just about the nicest guy in the field and it’s always a great pleasure to chat with him, even if it’s about a pair of Spirit comics published in the ’60s. The following interview was conducted by phone on May 22, 2002, and Will copyedited the final transcript, all in record time! Comic
Book Artist: Did you know Alfred Harvey back in the early days of comics? Will Eisner: I knew Alfred Harvey very well from the very beginning. He was one of three brothers. There was Robert Harvey, who was an attorney, and Leon, who was a kind of jack-of-all-trades. Al actually started in the business working as a letterer for King Features Syndicate, lettering one of their daily strips. In the late 1930s, before the War, Irving Manheimer [eventually the owner of PDC, a formidable comics distributor] had been in the business of collecting returns of Sunday comic sections—these big sheets of brightly colored newsprint—and selling them to Africa as wrapping paper. He would store the sheets in a warehouse, then ship them overseas and sell them to African retail stores for wrapping up merchandise. With the War coming on, Manheimer lost his ability to trade internationally— being unable to ship across the Atlantic because of the Nazi UBoats—and he decided he wanted to get into the distribution business. (I got this from Al Harvey himself, my authority for this information.) Manheimer told Al that he needed magazines to distribute— 98
comic books—and suggested that Al get into the business because it looked pretty good. He said, “Listen, Al. The distributors are not supposed to finance anybody but what I’ll do is guarantee to buy a quantity of copies from you.” So that was Manheimer’s way of financing Al, who quit King Features and became a comics publisher. He published Popeye and a number of other syndicated comic strips in comic book form, which he bought at $5 a page, the going rate. So, that’s how Al Harvey got started. Al came to me one day in the early ’40s, and wanted to know if he could publish and distribute The Spirit, but I turned him down because we already had our own system set up. Thereafter, I saw him on and off over the years. He was in the Army at the same time I was, in the mid-’40s. CBA: What kind of guy was he? Will: He had a commandeering manner about him. He was a promoter who looked to dominate situations as much as he could. It’s difficult to characterize him, but he was a big, imposing guy, he seemed to be friendly, and a lot of people liked him. He and I got along socially, but not business-wise. My relationships with publishers were partnerships, but publishers always had the idea that I was an employee. [laughter] That was my relationship with Busy Arnold and it would’ve been the same with Al. He would say, “Why don’t you come do something with me?” I’d say, “I’m looking for an equity situation,” and then he’d say, “Well, I can’t do that.” So we went our separate ways. In 1950, he submitted a competitive bid for PS Magazine, but the Army wanted me. So I won out! CBA: Was that kind of unbalanced relationship unique to comics in the publishing field? Will: Book publishing deals with creators were different, but comics in those days were always work-for-hire. I wouldn’t work on that basis. CBA: Except for your time with Quality Comics, you pretty much stuck to the outskirts of mainstream comics over the years, right? Will: Oh, yeah, sure. From the beginning, I maintained my position. I turned [DC Comics publisher] Harry Donenfeld down. Of course, I could prevail because I had my own little company. I was in a position to be able to turn them down. It wasn’t them or starvation; I had Eisner & Iger. I was doing well and it was a good little business. CBA: And later on, you got the government contract and started American Visuals. Who is Israel Waldman? Will: The kindest characterization is to say that he had a remainder house for comics. He would buy up returned comics in quantity and redistribute them again under his imprint [IW]. His was a kind of junkyard operation. He sometimes would pick up comics that weren’t being printed any more and reprint them. He was a slick operator. CBA: Would he always go through the proper channels and properly acquire the rights to the material he was reprinting? Will: In my case, he did run off a couple of my stories without getting permission, but at that time I was still in the Army, Busy was handling the business arrangements, and Israel must have swiped that stuff when Busy wasn’t looking. He would pick up stuff every so often and print the material without permission. He was pretty much looked upon as a sleazeball. CBA: Sometime in the early 1960s, Waldman reprinted some Spirit comics, called Super Reprints #11 and 12. Do you remember any arrangement made? Will: Actually, I can’t recall the details of any Super Reprints deal. It must have been legitimate, although in the 1960s, I was running Bell COMIC BOOK ARTIST 19
McClure Syndicate and operating a publishing operation. CBA: Did you have any opinion regarding Harvey’s output? Will: I didn’t have any dealings with them until the mid-1960s, when Al Harvey came to me, said they wanted to get back into the super-hero business, and were wondering if they could reprint The Spirit. Actually, I did make the deal with Leon because, by that time, Al had been seriously ill. CBA: What arrangement did you agree to with Harvey? Will: I owned the copyrights on all the material and I recall it was a flat payment for each issue, a licensing fee. I never sold ownership to anything; it was always a licensing arrangement. But it didn’t go anywhere. It only ran two issues and the whole thing was a failure. CBA: You did produce some new work for those issues, correct? Will: I only made a new introductory Spirit story for the first issue. It was the origin of The Spirit. I redid it because the initial origin story really wasn’t very good and I wanted to jazz it up a little. But, again, by that time I was busy running my own company, so these comics were just a side issue. CBA: You’re not the biggest promoter of the super-hero genre around. Were you comfortable being part of this big super-hero revival? Will: I was neither comfortable or uncomfortable. The comic magazine marketplace was just something I had no interest in. Beginning in 1951, when I started American Visuals, I went into the industrial application of comics, so I couldn’t have cared less about mainstream comics. Look, I was quite astonished to find there was still an interest in The Spirit. As a matter of fact, the Harvey comics came out on the heels of an article I did for the New York Herald Tribune which included a five-page Spirit story. In turn, that was stimulated by the publication of [onetime Eisner assistant] Jules Feiffer’s book, The Great Comic Book Heroes, which discussed and reprinted one of The Spirit stories. CBA: So would you give credit to Jules’ book for kickstarting The Spirit’s revival? Will: It certainly helped. His book called attention to The Spirit and I guess I’m indebted to Jules for giving that work a status. His was the first book to examine the comic book heroes with any intellect and by including me in that book, it certainly gave The Spirit some cache. A third party endorsement is always tremendously valuable. CBA: Now, you obviously held on to much of the original art for The Spirit over the years. Did you always have the idea in the back of your mind to revive the character? Will: I was never really interested in reviving the character. It was only in recent years that I allowed Kitchen Sink to publish The New Adventures of The Spirit, though the stories were done by other writers and artists. CBA: I meant were you intent on having the material reprinted. Will: Not really. I just held onto the artwork because I wanted to. Where I come from, my mother used to save string. [laughter] The artwork just seemed personally very valuable to me and it always angered me that the artwork was always regarded by publishers to be trash. They didn’t pay any attention to it, but I hung onto my work, carried it around over the years, and still have it today. CBA: Does the artwork take up much storage space? Will: I did about 250 stories myself and still have approximately 200 of them left, so about 1,400 pages. Holding onto the art was probably more of a personality quirk. Even today, I find it emotionally difficult to sell my artwork; my wife doesn’t have a problem, but I do. [laughter] CBA: But your being a pack rat really did work out in the end? June 2002
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Will: Apparently! It appears that if you hang onto something long enough, it will be worth something. CBA: Did you send the original art over to Harvey for those two issues? Will: Yes, and as a matter of fact, my art agent, Denis Kitchen, and I recently found out that two or three stories printed in those issues were missing, a discovery we made while taking an inventory. Harvey must have never returned them and maybe sold the stories to somebody. They were purloined. CBA: Did you ascertain those two issues having any impact with readers? Will: Not really. The only impact I could see was when I started going to conventions and would find kids walking around with copies of the old Harvey books, and asking me to sign them. I believe, those books contributed to the growing nostalgia field, at the time. Remember that in those days, there was this slowly growing appreciation of the old stuff, ultimately consummated into the collecting world. The value of comics, as your generation knows it, in fact, grew very slowly. There was a time when they were valueless, but as time went on, people started treating comics originals with greater respect.
Above: More art by Will Eisner used to promote the Harvey Thriller reprint book. This was used in a full-page house ad (as seen in Fighting American #1). ©2002 Will Eisner.
Inset left: Comic book “remainderer” Israel Waldman repackaged old Quality Comics material featuring Will Eisner’s creation for his “Super Reprint” line in the early 1960s. Spirit ©2002 Will Eisner. 99
The Steranko Connection A look at the creator’s first professional contributions to comics by Jim Korkis “My first work in comics was for Harvey Publications. Joe Simon asked me to design a number of super-heroes for a new comic line. Spyman, Gladiator, and Magicmaster were bought… Spacewolf and Future American were turned down. The-powers-that-be didn’t feel I drew well enough to illustrate these characters. So I went to Marvel, Stan looked at some sketches and gave me ‘SHIELD’… just like that!”—Jim Steranko, Comic Crusader #1, March 1968
Above: In the issue of Comic Book Marketplace devoted to Jim Steranko (#28), the checklist compiled by Edmond Rhodes, Jr., mentions that the creator appeared as himself—The Great Steranko—in various Harvey humor titles, including Spooky #126 (where the above panel was taken from) and Spooky Spookytown #47. Well, wouldn’t ya know it, but Ronn Sutton (a frequent CBA contributor and a wonderful artist in his own right) had a copy and sent this in! Steranko was quoted as telling CBM that the Harvey appearances are “probably my best chance at lasting fame!” ©2002 Harvey Entertainment, Inc.
The Thriller series was one of Harvey’s periodic entries into the adventure hero field. With the costumed super-heroes at their peak of popularity and with several new companies like Milson and Tower reaping valuable sales dollars, Harvey hired Joe Simon to develop the Thriller series which was released in 1966. Harvey issued several titles, Spyman, Jigsaw, Thrill-O-Rama, Double-Dare Adventures, Unearthly Spectaculars, Warfront (as well as several reprints featuring “The Three Rocketeers,” The Spirit and Fighting American) all of which ran no more than two or three issues before they were cancelled. (Actually, Thrill-O-Rama and Unearthly Spectaculars debuted a year earlier with “The Man in Black Called Fate” and “Tiger Boy”). The Harvey line featured some of the most unusual heroes: Jigsaw was able to stretch like Plastic Man, Jack Quick Frost could throw icicles, freeze streets and breathe blasts of frost; Pirana fought crime beneath the waves with a pair of pet barracudas; Tiger Boy was actually a Venutian creature who could transform himself into half-boy, half tiger, as well as Steelman, Rubberman and other identities); B-Man had strange bee powers and fought aliens. Harvey attracted some outstanding artists to help launch their new adventure line, including: Al Williamson (who besides illustrating some non-character stories, contributed the Conan-esque “Clawfang the Barbarian”), Wally Wood (with his parody of super-hero organizations, “Miracles, Inc.,” his John Carter homage, “Earthman,” and various war stories), Reed Crandall, George Tuska, Mike
Sekowsky, Gil Kane, Bob Powell, and others. But perhaps the most fascinating and little known aspect of the Thriller series was the contribution of Jim Steranko. Steranko was working as an art director for a small, but busy advertising agency, when a meeting with Joe Simon led to an assignment for Harvey Comics. He created several new characters for the new super-hero line and scripted the initial stories for each. Spyman, Gladiator, and Magicmaster were purchased, but concepts for Future American and Spacewolf were turned down. After he saw what was done with the characters he had developed, Steranko was so disappointed that he created Super Agent X and took the character’s origin tale, “The Exordium of X,” around to other companies. (Tower was interested in the character, but editorial policies created too much interference for Steranko; National saw it and wanted Steranko just as a writer; Paramount was going to develop an animated series based on the character before they closed up their animation department. Stan Lee didn’t want the character, but hired Steranko as an artist on the “Nick Fury” strip in Strange Tales.) By examining Steranko’s original character presentations, it is easy to see why he became discouraged with how his characters were later developed by other writers and artists. [ED’S NOTE: Though Jim Korkis’s original article reprinted Steranko’s presentation verbatim, out of respect for the creator’s copyright we will paraphrase below.] SORCERER (later named Magicmaster): World renowned magician the Incredible Apollo dies suddenly and his lone progeny Jimmy—who was dark-haired in Steranko’s presentation, but blonde in the Jack Sparling illustrated story—makes an oath to continue his father’s mystical work. Rummaging through Apollo’s library, the boy finds a decaying volume by a magician from ancient Egypt. By speaking a phrase previously unspoken for thousands of years, Jimmy is surprised to be engulfed in a swirling mist that dissolves to reveal the form of one Shamarah, a “magician of the gods,” who is on a mission to seek justice for the murder of the Incredible Apollo. (In the second non-scripted Steranko adventure, the wizard is cleverly called Kazzam.) Upon inquiring the reason for his being summoned, Jimmy replies it must have been a mistake, though the boy expressed his hope to follow his father’s path and also become a respected magician. Shamarah vows to instruct the youth just as he had Merlin, Circe and Cagliostro, and the pair become a crime-fighting team, using both the mystic’s true sorcery and the lad’s knowledge of parlor tricks (learned from his late dad). Thus starts the grand adventure “into the shadowy unknown.” (Curiously, Steranko’s presentation drawing featured a very Egyptian-looking magician with a cobra on his cowl. When it appeared in comic book form, the features were made more “American-looking” and the snake was replaced with a simpler design and then, completely discarded altogether by the second appearance.) The character seemed a natural extension of Steranko’s background in magic. THE GLADIATOR: re-christened The Glowing Gladiator. This character was illustrated by Bob Powell and later, Jack Sparling. President and chief trouble-shooter of Adventure Unlimited (although Steranko originally described him as just a “world adventurer and archeologist’), Harry Barker is hired to search through the decayed remnants of ancient Carthage for the fabled amulet of Hannibal. Finding it, he gazes intently and is mysteriously pulled into the amulet where he meets Hannibal of Barca. Hannibal describes how his soul had been trapped in the amulet for over two millennium, yearning for release. At nine-years-old, the warrior took “an oath of eternal COMIC BOOK ARTIST 19
Harvey Thriller Checklist The complete index to Joe Simon’s ’60s adventure comics
Harvey Thriller Line UNEARTHLY SPECTACULARS 1 October 1965 Title page “The Visitor” “Old Wives Tale” “Unbelievable Story” Tiger Boy “Will Power” “The Hidden World” Text filler
Cover: Jack Sparling Jack Sparling 1 ?/Doug Wildey 5 ?/Angelo Torres 2 ?/? 5 ?/Doug Wildey 5 ?/Doug Wildey 5 2
2 December 1966 Cover: J. Simon, J. Sparling & W. Wood Title page Jack Sparling with Gil Kane 1 Jack Quick Frost “The Ice Prison” ?/Jack Sparling15 Pirana (preview) ?/Jack Sparling 2 Clawfang “Introduction” ?/Al Williamson 2 Clawfang “Clawfang the Barbarian” ?/Al Williamson 5 Tiger Boy and Company “The Boy Who Hates Us All” ?/Gil Kane 2 Title page Mike Sekowsky/Frank Giacoia (with Wally Wood) 1 Miracles, Inc. “Miracles, Inc.” ?/Wally Wood 5 3 Rocketeers “How the 3 Rocketeers Teamed Up” ?/Mike Sekowsky & Joe Giella 5 “Super Surplus” ?/Carl Pfeufer 2 Earthman “Earthman” Wally Wood/Wally Wood10 Text filler 2
Note: Thirteen-month interval from previous issue. Clawfang “Introduction” ?/Al Williamson 2 The Man in Black Called Fate “The Million Dollar Trap” 3 March 1967 Cover: Joe Simon ?/Jack Sparling 2 Title page Bill Draut 1 Text filler 2 Jack Quick Frost “Lord Lazee’s Terrible Trio” ?/Bill Draut15 Note: Eleven-month interval from previous issue. “The Saucerer” ?/Carl Pfeufer 2 “Hermit” (r: Alarming Tales #1) 3 December 1966 Cover: Jack Sparling Archie Goodwin/ Reed Crandall and Al Williamson 5 Title page Jack Sparling 1 “Logan’s Next Life” (r: Alarming Tales #1) ?/Kirby & Simon 2 Pirana “The Escape of Brainstorm” ?/Jack Sparling15 “Never Say ‘No’ to Dr. Yes” ?/TonyTHIS Tallarico 5 “My Pal, Alien” ?/Carl Pfeufer 2 IF YOU ENJOYED PREVIEW, Title page Joe Orlando 1 The Man in Black Called Fate “The Weaver” ?/Jack Sparling 5 CLICK THE LINK TO ORDER THIS Miracles, Inc. “Rent-A-Hero” ?/Joe Orlando17 Text filler 2 IN PRINT OR ?/Bill DIGITAL 3 Rocketeers “1… 2…ISSUE 3… Infinity” Draut 5 FORMAT! WARFRONT Text filler 2 36 October 1965 Cover: George Woodbridge with Joe Simon THRILL-O-RAMA Title page George Tuska 1 1 October 1965 Cover: Joe Simon “Ghost Army” ?/Marvin Stein 5 Title page Bob Powell 1 “American Heroes” ?/Dan Adkins 1 The Man in Black Called Fate “The Hate Cupids” “Duty: Occupation” ?/Bob Powell 1 Bob Powell/Bob Powell 8 Corporal Daniel in the Lion’s Den “Warhead” ?/Angelo Torres? 5 “Six Hours of Doom” ?/Carl Pfeufer? 5 Bob Scott, the One-Guy Task Force “The Big Ride” “When Time Ran Out” ?/Doug Wildey 5 ?/Charles Nicholas & George Roussos 6 “The Old Hulk” ?/Doug Wildey 5 Dynamite Joe “Make ’Em Pay” ?/Bob Powell? 5 Text filler 2 Text filler 1 Note: Revival of 1950s Harvey war title. 2 September 1966 Cover: George Tuska with Joe Simon Title page Jack Sparling 1 37 September 1966 Cover: Jack Sparling Pirana “Pirana” ?/Jack Sparling14 Title page Wally Wood 1
#19: HARVEY COMICS
History of Harvey Comics, from Hot Stuf’, Casper, and Richie Rich, to Joe Simon’s “Harvey Thriller” line! Interviews with, art by, and tributes to JACK KIRBY, STERANKO, WILL EISNER, AL WILLIAMSON, GIL KANE, WALLY WOOD, REED CRANDALL, JOE SIMON, WARREN KREMER, ERNIE COLÓN, SID JACOBSON, FRED RHOADES, and more! New wraparound MITCH O’CONNELL cover!
(104-page magazine) $6.95 (Digital Edition) $3.95 http://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_56&products_id=535
Issue #19 spotlights the hits and misses of Harvey Comics! If you think the comics company run by Alfred Harvey was all Wendy, Little Audrey...