freecomics2011 freecomics2011

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.

  • J

    The new Richie Rich sounds like the junior fantasy exploits of Richard Branson!

    • Alan

      Or the current fantasies of Donald Trump!

  • tedzey

    I love free comic book day! The store next to my campus was even giving away comics that weren’t specifically part of the promotion; but comics that nobody bought. This included Spectacular Spiderman 200: The Death of Harry Osborn! That and I also have Darkwing Duck, the Kung fu panda you have featured, AND the Scrooge McDuck comic that closely resembled “Inception!” (these were part of the promotion, not the spiderman comic).

    This need to be pushed into a national holiday worthy of valentines day! Maybe make Jack Kirby as the Santa-Claus character that comes down your chimney at night and leaves your Authentic Spiderman Issue Ones in your stockings!

  • I’m not real crazy about the “new” Richie Rich, but then I’m not the target audience. Better than letting him die unrecognized by modern youth, right?

    I did a digital short comic for FCBD…if anybody is interested you can click my name and check it out.

  • Mike Konczewski

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the reprints of the classic Mickey Mouse comics strips and the John Stanley compilation. These have been a staple of previous FCBDs, and I really look forward to them. It’s also been a delight to share them with my young daughter; she’s now become a fan of the classic Carl Barks’s Scrooge McDuck stories, and the Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse strips.

  • I’m not really sure you can call it a new tradition when it’s been going for nearly a decade.

    • Funkybat

      The new Richie Rich character designs seem to have been influenced much more by the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series than by the original comics. Of course, for most people under 40, the cartoon series is how they got to know the characters, much as how many people who love Uncle Scrooge & Co. do so primarily because of DuckTales.

      • rnigma

        It also seems to be more inspired by the Macaulay Culkin movie, and the animated series that followed it.

  • The Gee

    The title of one of the stories in an issue of the comic:

    and, curiosity will kill the cat….

    The new look is unexpected but I guess it was overdue. Archie Comics did some similar re-design too, right? Though I am guessing Jughead’s chintzy chapeau remains the same.

    If you follow the Richie Rich link, look at the covers and see the virtually identical expression on Richie’s mug and note where he’s looking in each one.

    One question, beyond the quoted one above, does the de-evolution of the noggin size still occur? In the Harvey style, the kids’ heads were cutesy huge but the parents’ noggins shrunk while their bodies absorbed the girth.

  • Clutch

    New tradition? They’ve been doing it since 2002.

  • Clint H

    I actually enjoy Free Comic Book Day. Why, just last weekend, I got a Mickey Mouse comic (awesome!), an Archie comic, an Inspector Gadget comic, and a Darkwing Duck / Rescue Rangers comic.

    The only problem I have with these comics is that the last two are only sample comics and they all end with ‘To Be Continued’ and ‘But the first collection today’, which means I have to scurry around to find the collection or wait 5 months later, and chances are I’ll forget all about it by then.

    Another problem is that the Inspector Gadget comic comes with a sample of a Johnny Test comic. Hate the show, and from the looks of things, I’ll hate the comic, too. Worst artwork ever! It looks blurry and flatter than the actual show!

    Thank God the Mickey Mouse comic is still on top!

    • Clint H: Don’t worry – the first official issue of Inspector Gadget (containing, as far as I know, the complete “Inspector Gadget on the Orient Express” story) will be out as a 48-page book already at the end of June… and 100% free of Johnny Test:)

      Being a big Inspector Gadget fan, I have to say that this comic looks like one of the better revivals of the franchise for quite some time. José Cobá’s artwork doesn’t quite nail it for me (Gadget and Penny looked pretty strange in some panels), but the writing by Dale Mettam seems spot-on, loaded with classic quotes/situations from the cartoon series and even a reference to Get Smart! With a few tweaks, this comic book can be perfect. Let’s just hope that the characters are drawn a little more on-model in future issues.

  • uncle wayne

    And we can (all) thank our lucky stars that you are NOT “nostalgic!” lol

  • BOogedy

    Richie Rich blows ass. Always has, always will.

  • I got the FCBD issue of RICHIE RICH, and these are my thoughts:

    I’m actually okay with it! Naturally, I prefer the original comic look (and I noticed the influence from the Hanna-Barbera cartoon, which, even as a kid who read the comics, thought it was a disappointment, compared to the Film Roman cartoon from 1996), but the updates were pretty good. Not only that, but they kept the spirit of the characters! (I do like the updates on Cadbury and Irona, the latter actually looks pretty.) So they didn’t grim it up like CASPER AND THE SPECTRALS (which was made to match the norms of “grimdark” superhero comics that are prevalent today)! This is a comic for kids, and the makers kept that firmly in mind. The story is almost like something I would expect from classic Harvey, if they were still around.

    When I showed it to Mom, she didn’t like the new designs. And, as I said, I prefer the classic Harvey designs myself. But I can actually accept this. I actually got a bit of nostalgia from reading the comic.

  • Otaku-sempai

    So, did anyone else pick up the STAR WARS: CLONE WARS/AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER flip-book from Dark Horse? It included two, short A:TLA tales, one fairly dramatic and the other one played for humor. I’m afraid that I haven’t actually read the SW story yet.

  • Alissa

    Huh, here I was glad I got the last copy of the Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal/Mouse Guard promo. My sister was pretty happy to nab the Avatar the Last Airbender promo too.

  • i found a free comic based on the dark crystal

    it was pretty awesome

  • When is the old Richie Rich coming back in print? My 12 year-old is about to age out of the demo and my 8 year-old is ripe for the picking.

    • That would probably be up to Dark Horse. I would really love it if they put out more classic Harvey TPBs like they did their wonderful LITTLE LULU books! (I already love their “Best of Harvey” collections with involvement by our own Jerry Beck, but they REALLY leave me wanting more! New prints for a new generation, I always say!)

  • Mister Twister

    Kind of sad, because now artists are FORCED to create comics for this day, even if they do not have a good story in mind.

    /Co/mmunism showed us, planned economy does not work, nor does art.

  • Larry_T

    Blech. Richie Rich => Johnny Quest rehashed and with unlimited money.

    Why even bother using the namesake “Richie Rich”? The characters and storylines have very little to do with those they’re supposed to represent. If they had any real talent, they’d have just created another set of characters with the crime-fighting, Batman-wannabe traits and released that on its own. (Oh wait- Cadbury already is just Bruce Wayne unmasked and wearing a tuxedo).

    And Reggie is supposed to be a rival, almost as rich as the Riches but with much less couth. So why is he depicted as a part of the “gang” helping them out? What happened to Freckles and PeeWee?