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Free Comic Book Day

There’s a new tradition every May in the U.S. – Free Comic Book Day. It was created to help promote new wares by comics publishers as well as an attempt to lure new consumers into local comic book shops.

Free Comic Book Day was last Saturday, but if you visit your comic store this week you can most likely pick up some of the leftover freebies. This year’s batch included several animated tie-ins, including comics based on Kung Fu Panda and Batman: The Brave and The Bold.

The one I was most interested in was the new version of Richie Rich from Ape Entertainment (under their Kidzoic line) and I able to snag one today. This is not your grandfather’s Richie Rich. In fact, the Richie here is pretty unrecognizable to old purist’s like me. The old Richie was the ultimate kid’s wish-fulfillment fantasy – you know, a bowling alley in the basement, a fully stocked soda fountain in the den, tons of comic books to read.

This new Richie retains the old cast: girl friend Gloria, rival Reggie and pet Dollar Dog, along with super-robotic maid Irona and his buff, ass-kicking butler Cadbury. Everyones gotten a makeover to look more like characters in comics today – and that’s okay with me. I’m not sure how kids will relate to their globe-trotting adventures or Richie’s new personality, which is touted as a cross between James Bond and Indiana Jones, “with the bank account of Donald Trump” (they might want to change that). But the artwork by Jack Lawrence (covers) and Tina Francisco (interior stories) is somewhat attractive (check out her drawings of Casper, Scrappy, Bosko and Betty Boop here), so more power to them.

If I ever get nostalgic, I still have my old, pulp paper, 12-cent Richie Rich books from the 1960s and 70s. As for these new comics… let’s just say I paid the right price for the first issue.