Thursday, October 21, 2021

Real Heroes:

Introduction to the Harvey World

A hearty “Welcome!” to ComicBase writer Mark Arnold, and this week's premier of his column, Real Heroes. Real Heroes will be devoted to the discussion of non-superhero comic books, focusing on humor,  horror, and children’s titles from publishers like Harvey, Archie, Gold Key, Dell, EC, and Warren. This week, Mark elaborates on the difficulties trying to get those hard-to-find Harvey comics.

As the publisher of “The Harveyville Fun Times!” since 1990, I have collected my share of Harvey Comics. (I tend to collect those featuring the “Harvey World” characters such as Casper, Richie Rich, etc.) Buying Harvey Comics is a strange experience in comparison to someone buying a huge chunk of Marvel or DC Comics. Now, if someone went into a comic store and purchased all of the X-Men or Batman (or a healthy chunk), you can bet that in a few weeks some new X-Men or Batman would be stocked. Obviously, to a comic store owner, someone is out there buying it. Not so with Harvey (or Archie or any non-superhero for that matter). When you buy all of the Harveys, that’s it. Rarely have I gone to a store that had Harveys at a later date and discovered they restocked. It’s almost as if they’re relieved that some idiot bought those books and they don’t have to clutter up their shelves anymore.

Not surprisingly, Harvey titles are hard to find. I don’t know if this is due to comic store stocking shortages or the fact that some Harvey titles had such low print runs that even a well-stocked shop would have a hard time obtaining them. So I’d like to share title-by-title, character-by-character, and mention the harder to find titles from over 15 years experience collecting Harveys.

Baby Huey I would venture to say that it is very difficult to find any Huey-related issues at all. There weren’t too many made, and the ones that did came out in the 50s and 60s, making it that much tougher to find. This is possibly the hardest series to complete a collection of with the first 20 issues being the most difficult to locate. Even more difficult is Paramount Animated Cartoons, the title that preceded Baby Huey and ran for 22 issues. I only have one issue of that series in my collection, and it’s not in pristine shape.

Casper On the other hand, Casper comics tend to be in plentiful supply. Even issues from the early 50s and the St. John ones are not all that difficult, except in high grade. It probably helps to have a hit movie and cartoon series, making even more of those old books surface. In the last year or two at conventions, if someone didn’t have any other Harveys, they at least had Caspers. However, there are a couple of harder-to-find titles that are a pain to complete, such as Casper and Nightmare (a.k.a. Nightmare and Casper), Famous TV Funday Funnies and TV Casper and Company. I finally did get the sole Funday Funnies issue a couple of years ago and had to pay more than I planned, but I had never seen it offered before or since.

Hot Stuff — Hot Stuff overall isn’t too difficult to find, though Hot Stuff Sizzlers (again especially in high grade) and about the first 30 or so issues of Hot Stuff, are.Devil Kids is very easy to find (excepting the giant issues), as is the rest of the run of Hot Stuff. I don’t know why this is, that a title would be around for so long in short supply, and then be issued in plentiful supply. But, if you think that’s weird, check out Sad Sack below.

Jackie Jokers — Of the four issues, #1 and #2 are much easier to find, but all of them are not that easy to find, which is why this title was eventually replaced by Richie Rich and Jackie Jokers.

Little Audrey — These comics are generally available, but the ones that are the most difficult to find are the final ones issued in the 70s and the earliest ones published by St. John. Even “Little Audrey Clubhouse” and “Little Audrey TV Funtime” are easier to find than some of the giants listed above. This leads me to believe that until the 70s, “Audrey” was one of Harvey’s best sellers.

Little Dot — For Little Dot it is very, very, hard to find issues below #100 and above #159. Her companion titles Little Dot’s Uncles and Aunts and Little Dot Dotland are of varying difficulty. Rank with Baby Huey as being the hardest set to complete. They are collectibles for the Richie Rich stories, and in fact, Richie’s first appearance was in Little Dot #1.

Little Lotta — Same story here, but amazingly in recent years, I have made strong inroads towards completing “Little Lotta” and “Little Lotta in Foodland”. The harder issues to find on “Little Lotta” are the ones below #65, while the final issues are relatively easy. This is a puzzle to me.

Richie Rich — Nothing of Richie Rich is very difficult to find, but if I had to say something, it would be Richie Rich #3-#10 and most issues #210-#218 (the end of the original run in 1982). Richie Rich Millions can be difficult, but in most cases with Richie Rich, it’s not rarity as much as price, as most books are marked with far higher price tags than other Harvey characters. High grade with many of the giants can be a problem.

Sad Sack — Overstreet says that very few of the first 22 issues of Sad Sack are available, but I beg to differ. I find issues #30-#100 far more difficult to find. Granted, many of those issues were reprinted later, but it’s amazing how hard they are considering Overstreet’s claim. Little Sad Sack” and Sad Sack Goes Home are also toughies. The rest are generally in plentiful supply. The easiest Sad Sack title to find is Sad Sack’s Army Life.

Spooky — Overall, Spooky is the easiest collection to complete. Since they are in plentiful supply and there are not as many total issues to collect. The one difficult title is “Tuff Ghosts”, but I’ve still seen quite a few of those.

Stumbo — Tinytown can be a little more difficult. The early issues tend to pop up more frequently, and they are pricey for some unknown reason.

Wendy — Fairly easy to find issues, but the later ones of Wendy and Wendy Witch World are nearly impossible as she suffered the same fate as Little Dot and Little Audrey.

Harvey Miscellaneous — Certain key issues of Harvey Hits are impossible to find like the “Buzzy” issue, while others like “Gabby Gob” and “G.I. Juniors” are always sighted. Harvey Comic Hits can be found, but again can be pricey. Harvey Collector’s Comics are easy, especially the Richie issues. Other stuff like “Astrocomics” and giveaways are uneven. And many of the Jeff Montgomery and Alan Harvey (post-1986) issues are available, but I usually see Tom and Jerry and Woody Woodpecker over Richie or Casper.

Many of the above however, are available through Diamond. Other dealers who print catalogues from the East Coast also have plentiful supply of Harveys, though usually overpriced. I suspect a lot of dealers still don't advertise they even carry them, much less know what it is they have available. I consulted with fellow Harvey collector Quinton Clem and together we came up with a list of what we consider from our experience to be the hardest “Harvey World” comics to find, especially in high grade:

  1. Little Dot #1 (1953)
  2. Harvey Hits #7 (1958) (First Wendy)
  3. Casper the Friendly Ghost #7 (1952) — Try finding this!
  4. Nightmare and Casper #1 (1963)
  5. Harvey Comic Hits #60 (1952) (First Harvey Casper)
  6. Harvey Hits #9 (“Richie Rich's Golden Deeds”)
  7. Harvey Comic Hits #61 (Casper the Friendly Ghost #6) (1952)
  8. Friendly Ghost Casper #1 (1958) — I see it, but not in high grade
  9. Sad Sack #30-#100 (1954-1959) — contrary to Overstreet
  10. Little Dot #4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 14, 18, 20, 44 (1954-1956; 1959) — For some reason, these I never see

So good luck in finding those hard-to-find Harveys!

Mark Arnold is a comic book and animation historian and a writing, art, and film/video production professional. He writes comic books and articles on comic books and animation for various publications in addition to scripts, short stories and novels. He is also skilled in sales, marketing and promotion, and has film and TV production experience with digital video, video tape, and film. He has many online websites including Fun Ideas, Mark's Rare Comics, The Harveyville Fun Times!, So Rare!, and Food Shop. He also writes an (almost) daily blog and writes and draws a weekly comic strip called Protecto, the Little Robot. For the curious, Mark can be reached online at thft@att.net. Whew!

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