Friday, January 9, 2015


"You are, son. Haha, what a jest, now let's go evict some poor people from their homes, shall we?

I’ve always been surprised that Richie Rich and the other Harvey Comics characters have never commanded the same sort of rabid, continuity-obsessed fandom that superhero comics have. If Richie Rich, after all, is not an escapist power fantasy, I’m not sure what one would be. Although he‘s described as the Poor Little Rich Boy – and nothing really speaks to his origins among another generation better than that particular accolade – Richie’s life is uniformly exceptional; his weekly allowance is clearly somewhere in the millions, or possibly tens of millions, he lives in a sprawling mansion which crosses time zones, he has an array of servants who each possess amazing skills, both physical and mental, and is the recipient of scientific advances which border on the frankly magical.

He also fights bad guys. Richie Rich has acquired, over the eight-hundred-thousand million decades since his invention (remember how there’s that scene in Gilgamesh where he’s sitting on the toilet, reading a Richie Rich comic?), at least several dozen and possibly hundreds or thousands of larcenous lowlifes with their eyes set on his fancy gazillions. Never mind that probably any crook could rob the Rich household of every coin, bill, ingot and gem which he could cram into a fleet of tractor trailers without managing to rattle the Rich Family’s collective net worth by so much as a thousandth of a percentage point – Richie and his clan still protect their wealth from theft by any means necessary.

There have been a few Richie Rich villains who’ve packed a super-villainous gimmick – a codename,  costume or a quirky modus operandi – including the pseudonymous “Stupid”, introduced in Richie Rich Profits No.46 (June 1982). The unseen villain is revealed to have been a repeat offender in his quest to rob the Riches, according to the tale spun by Richie’s father, Adolph Iscariot Rich Sr, white slaver and blood diamond merchant (hey, they had to make their fortune somehow).

Mm, yes, quite, what a merry jape it is.
Whatever “Stupid”s true identity, he earns the demeaning appellation courtesy of the senior Rich’s disdain for his absence of criminal prowess. He describes the half-witted baddie as “A very dumb crook” and “A criminal midgetmind,” and regales the junior Rich with “Stupid”s assorted near-miss criminal capers.

These include: Attempting to break into the Rich Family vault while wearing boxing gloves to obscure his fingerprints and stealing and ransoming Mrs.Lucretia Borden Rich’s assorted jewelry boxes (“Unless you want your wife’s jewels lying in a mess all over the place,” he orders the Riches, “Send me one million dollars!”). He pulls the same ransom gag with their butler’s suit, their chauffeur’s shaving kit, and lastly their private cook. Well, sort of, he abducts “Chef Pierre”, forces him to cook a fancy meal, then ransoms the meal for a cool mill.

The men of the Rich clan have a hearty laugh at “Stupid”s absence of general smarts, but the fact is he actually sounds like a pretty menacing threat to me – despite the Rich Estate’s technological defenses and multitude of personal security, this clown manages to keep sneaking in and stealing stuff. The mere fact that he was able to abduct one of Rich’s personal staff, or even get into their closets and living quarters, seems to imply a level of ability which makes him a lot more than merely a laughable loser. Imagine if they ever gave Richie Rich a Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow treatment. “If the nuisances from my past are coming back as killers, what happens when Jackie Jokerz comes back?”

Of course, the other thing to consider is that he’s effecting a net loss of the Rich family’s net worth with his antics. Surely it would be worth giving the guy a million bucks just to get him off your back for a few months, rather than have to replace all the things he steals and the damage he incurs (he opens the story by breaking one of the Rich’s enormous picture windows, made from the frozen tears of Concentration Camp victims and displaced Native American chiefs, or so I think I read in an issue of the Harveyville Fun Times fanzine). In those terms, this “Stupid” character actually may be one of the most insidious crooks in the Harvey Comics roster, which I realize as I type it isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of his evil.

"Next time on Hannibal."

1 comment:

neofishboy said...

When I was a little kid, my parents got me one of those big omnibus Richie Rich collections. In one of the one-page stories, Richie is telling his mom that his non-rich friends (a boy and girl whose names elude me) have invited him to go into town and hang out or something. His mom asks if they said he should bring anything, and he responds that they suggested he should make sure he had some "pocket money". She starts to fret because that sounds so non-specific, and the next panel has him showing up with a newly-sewn pants pocket the size of a kiddie-pool, overflowing with cash.

I lacked the vocabulary at the time, but I think my reaction to this could have been accurately described as "You know what? Fuck these people!"

Popular Posts