Saturday, February 13, 2010

Harvey Comics--where'd they go?

Above is an interesting flea-market find I made last weekend....a Laramie Toys 1/64 diecast Rolls-Royce from 1981 licensed as Richie Rich's Rolls....I love comics and die-cast cars, and have come to discover that these things are actually quite rare to find.

From GoAntiques:

Laramie, a toy producer and distributor from the Philadelphia, PA area produced a 2 door convertible in their Richie Rich cartoon series and is identified on the blister card as an Old time Car. The model is of a late 30's 2 door convertible with spare tires in the front fenders. The tope is down. The body is bright yellow with a black interior and tonneau cover.

A staple of my youth was Harvey Comics. They had several well-selling (I'm assuming) titles featuring popular properties (Casper the Friendly Ghost, Richie Rich, etc.,...). I was one of those publishers I just kinda took for granted as a kid, because....well....they'd always been there.

Imagine my astonishment a few years ago when I suddenly woke up and realized one day that Harvey had ceased publication at some point during the previous decade. Seems they were an early casualty of the speculation market that ballooned out of control in the 1990s, and the sad thing is, it isn't because they were over publishing worthless books or they were adding to the useless hype and frenzy that other upstart companies were attributing to, it was a case of them just not being able to change their business and publishing model to adapt to the new market climate. Simply put, nobody was buying the books, so they simply had to shut the doors.

What amazed me beyond that was that around the time this happened, they weren't licensing anything....outside of the Casper property (which ironically had just been the focus of a big-screen adaptation courtesy of Universal Pictures that starred Bill Pullman and Christina Ricci)....nothing was getting licensed. I honestly believe that it was a case of no one having an interest in them, much like the monthly and bi-monthly comics periodicals.

Which is sad, really. If one can remember the publishing modules of the past, I can guarantee that Harvey was no slouch. We're talking about a company that was publishing at least half a dozen titles devoted to each individual property they had in house, which were around a half a dozen themselves....meaning at least 30 to 35 books a month on the newsstands were Harvey material, at a point int time when if a book wasn't selling 100,000 copies a month, it was considered a poor seller and canceled. Do the math: for around a forty year period, Harvey was publishing and selling over three million books a month, possibly close to half a billion. Now, take a look at today's market. If a monthly book is selling 25,000 copies a's a bonafide hit. Marvel and DC publish, what? Around 30 titles a month these days apiece....and sell about 10% of what Harvey did for decades.

In the last 20 years, Marvel has been bankrupt, made poor editorial and creative decisions that piss their readership off and, what? Sell out to Disney for 4 billion dollars.

And poor Harvey Comics couldn't keep their doors open. Sometimes, there's no justice in the world.

Thursday, January 28, 2010