Sunday, May 08, 2011

Richie Rich and Remakes

I posted this on the "Richie Rich's Vault" Yahoo group, but figured that other people might want to read my views:

I kind of figured everyone would be predominantly against the changes. I've realized many, many years ago, that the reason for the reverence for the old designs of ANY cartoon or comic book character is that they are and were a product of their time, and of each individual's childhoods. As a result, we revere the old designs primarily because they AREN'T being made anymore rather than if the new designs or concepts or stories are any good or not. We feel comfortable with what we are familiar with and are not willing to accept significant changes to "our characters".

I've seen these arguments countless times on blogs and boards with things like the recent CGI "Yogi Bear" film, any other live-action remakes of animated cartoons, and the revising of characters like Captain "Shazam!" Marvel, etc. etc. ad infinitum. I'm sure there were detractors back in the 1940s when Mickey Mouse started wearing more clothes and developed pupils in his pupils.

Overall, my assessment is typical of what has happened to Harvey since 1990, when Alan Harvey sold the company. The constant reinventing of the characters with no real connection to the past. There is this thinking with the powers-that-be that hold the copyrights (in this case, Classic Media), that the reason these characters aren't being purchased in the way they once were, is because children are tired of the older designs and concepts. This is in lieu of truly looking at the fundamental flaw at how these characters are marketed and distributed, and have been for the past 20-30 years.

I suppose to some the disconnect is good, that it does offer a fine line to those who cherish the past, knowing that they don't have to collect any more new stuff and for those who don't like the old stuff, it gives them a "Richie Rich" or a "Casper" ("Casper and the Spectrals") for their age.

Now, do I like the changes? In this case, frankly, yes. At the same time, it's not the Richie of yore and it is a shame that even with the nod to the past with a new story by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon that new talents weren't ever considered to write and draw new cartoons in the "old" style. And, it's a shame that Jacobson and Colon's story wasn't that good, either, making the old style seem especially quaint. Honestly, I liked the new stories better.

In the case of "Spider-Man", as was mentioned, there has been a constant evolution over the years, so it doesn't seem as jarring to some fans. In the Richie case, it is more like the new look Archies which seem to have come out of left field. Although I have to admit, I prefer the Dan DeCarlo based Archie design from the 50s and 60s, better than the original Bob Montana design from the 40s. To each his or her own, I suppose.

With Harvey, I much prefer the Warren Kremer design better than the Steve Muffatti design and in the case of Richie Rich, I much prefer the adventure Richie of the late 60s and 70s, much better than the obsession of wealth gags that predated them, although were the original concept.

In the case of Casper, I much prefer the adventures he had from the late 60s and 70s, much better than the original "It's a g-g-g-ghost" Casper of the Paramount Famous Studios films. I've ready every Casper comic from the start to the end and STILL prefer the stories created from the late 60s to the early 70s. The ones I happen to have read first when I was a child.

That isn't always the case. I used to HATE characters like Little Dot and Little Lotta and didn't understand their purpose, until I read the earlier stuff from before I was born, and found that they were much, much better.

Of course I'm rambling, but overall, I think that every character of any renown has undergone changes and either you accept the changes or you don't. If you like Richie Rich, period, you collect it all, regardless of the changes. If you like Richie Rich of a particular period, you collect that period. In 20 years time if this current version catches on, there may be fans that prefer THIS version to the ones you liked because it is a product of THEIR childhood, not yours.

Your Richie might have "jumped the shark" in 1960 when Richie got his own title, or 1966 or so, when adventure stories were introduced, or 1977 when they expanded to 32 titles every two months, or 1980 when the Hanna-Barbera "Richie Rich" debuted, or 1982 when the original Harvey company stopped published, or 1990 when Alan Harvey sold the company, or 1994 when Jeff Montgomery stopped publishing, or 1994 when the "Richie Rich" film came out, or 1996 when the Film Roman "Richie Rich" came out, or now.

Do that make the "new" Richie better or worse? It's a matter of opinion and not fact.


Joe Torcivia said...

Put me in the “Don’t Like” column, but I’m not enough of a Richie fan for that to matter much anyway. I hope Chris Barat comments on this. I’d be interested in his view, as you and he are probably the biggest Rich fans I know.

Your best point here is that of “evolution”. For instance, there are Superman stories that look like that (…and I don‘t care for it very much there either), but we didn’t jump directly from Wayne Boring and Curt Swan to faux-Anime! We saw it evolve. And that makes a big difference to me.

I hope other comment on this…

Chris Barat said...

Mark and Joe,

Should be commenting on the RR FCBD issue (which I'll read before tackling RR #1) later this week.

I will, as they say, withhold judgment until the evidence is duly digested.