Harvey Comics

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Harvey Comics
Former type Comic book publisher
Industry Comics
Founded 1941
Founders Alfred Harvey
Defunct 1994
Headquarters New York City
Key people Alfred Harvey
Robert B. Harvey
Leon Harvey
Alan Harvey
Jeffrey Montgomery
Divisions Thrill Adventure
Harvey Thriller
Harvey Films

Harvey Comics (also known as Harvey World Famous Comics, Harvey Publications, Harvey Comics Entertainment, Harvey Hits, Harvey Illustrated Humor, and Harvey Picture Magazines) was an American comic book publisher, founded in New York City by Alfred Harvey in 1941, after buying out the small publisher Brookwood Publications. His brothers Robert B. Harvey and Leon Harvey joined soon after. The company soon got into licensed characters, which by the 1950s, became the bulk of their output. Their most prolific artist was Warren Kremer.

Harvey's mascot is "Joker," a harlequin jack-in-the-box character reminiscent of the mascot/logo for Paramount Pictures/Famous Studios' Noveltoons series of animated cartoons of the 1940s-1960s.

History[edit]

Cover of First Love (December 1953)

Harvey Comics started out as a conventional comic book publisher. It published comic books that featured a combination of characters it inherited from Brookwood Publications, licensed characters such as the Green Hornet and Joe Palooka and its own original characters.

But the company ultimately became best known for characters it published from in comics from 1950s onward, particularly those it licensed from the animation company Famous Studios, a division of Paramount Pictures, in the late-1940s and early-1950s. These include Little Audrey, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Baby Huey, and Herman and Katnip. Harvey also licensed popular characters from newspaper comic strips, such as Mutt and Jeff and Sad Sack. In addition, Harvey also developed such original properties as Richie Rich, Little Dot and Little Lotta.

While the company tried to diversify the comics it published, with brief forays in the 1950s and 1960s into superhero, suspense, horror, western and other forms in such imprints as Harvey Thriller and Thrill Adventure, children's comics were the bulk of its output.

In 1959, Harvey purchased the entire Famous line (including character rights and rights to the cartoon shorts). The Famous cartoons were repackaged and distributed to television as Harveytoons, and Harvey continued production on new comics and a handful of new cartoons produced for television. Casper the Friendly Ghost, who had been Famous' most popular original character, now became Harvey's top draw. Associated characters such as Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost, The Ghostly Trio, Casper's horse Nightmare, Hot Stuff the Little Devil, and Wendy the Good Little Witch were added to the Harvey line.

1980s decline and sale[edit]

Due to a declining children's comics market, Harvey ceased publishing in 1982[1] and founder Alfred Harvey retired.

In the summer of 1984, Steve Geppi (owner of Diamond Comic Distributors and Geppi's Comic World) paid $50,000 for, among other properties, Harvey's entire archive of original art from the Harvey comic Sad Sack. Geppi made this agreement with Steve Harvey, who at the time was President of Harvey Publications, Inc., as well as President of Sad Sack, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Harvey Publications, Inc.[2]

Meanwhile, with Harvey no longer publishing, Marvel Comics showed interest in licensing some of Harvey's properties. When nothing came of it, in 1985 the Marvel imprint Star Comics published a title called Royal Roy. Harvey sued Star for copyright infringement, claiming that Roy was a blatant copy of Richie Rich.[3] (Veteran Harvey writer/artist Lennie Herman had created Royal Roy for Star Comics. Herman died in 1983[4] before the first issue of Royal Roy was published.) The Royal Roy comic ended after six issues and the lawsuit was dropped.

In 1986 Harvey resumed publication[5] under the leadership of Alan Harvey (Alfred's oldest son),[1] focusing on a few core titles, digests, and reprints.

In 1987 Harvey sued Columbia Pictures, for $50 million, claiming that the iconic Ghostbusters logo used in the blockbuster 1984 film was too reminiscent of Fatso from the Casper series. The court ruled in Columbia's favor,[6] due to Harvey's failure to renew the copyrights on early Casper stories and the "limited ways to draw a figure of a cartoon ghost."

Jeffrey Montgomery / Harvey Comics Entertainment[edit]

In 1989 Harvey was sold to Jeffrey Montgomery's HMH Communications, located in Santa Monica, California. It was renamed Harvey Comics Entertainment (HCE), publishing reprints in the early 1990s as Harvey Classics. In 1993 the company created two imprints, Nemesis Comics and Ultracomics, to publish Ultraman comics, as well as a couple of other titles. HCE ceased publishing in 1994.

Meanwhile, however, Montgomery was distributing Harvey's animated catalogue in every market, and sold 20% of the company to MCA Inc., parent company of Universal Studios. (Universal licensed the characters for use in its theme parks.) Montgomery also optioned Richie Rich and Casper for two feature films: Richie Rich premiered in 1994, and Casper in 1995.[1]

Montgomery also struck a publishing and distribution deal with Marvel Comics, which led Marvel to publish Casper titles, including an adaptation of the 1995 live-action Casper movie. Two issues of an ongoing Casper title were published in May 1997, followed by the short-lived Casper and Friends Magazine (May–July 1997).

Classic Media[edit]

Montgomery was ousted from HCE in 1997, and in 2001,[7] the company sold its Harvey properties and rights to the Harvey name to Classic Media.[8][9]

The rights to Sad Sack, Black Cat, and certain other Harvey characters are still owned by Alan Harvey, and have been published under the names of Lorne-Harvey Publications and Re-Collections.[1] In late 2000, Alan Harvey sued Steve Geppi over his 1984 acquisition of the Sad Sack original art,[10] charging that Geppi had plundered Harvey's warehouses.[11] Geppi countersued, claiming that he had legal title to the original art.[2] The suit was settled in late 2002; at the time of the settlement, the New York Supreme Court had dismissed Harvey's claims against Geppi. The settlement agreement allowed Geppi to keep the art, with no money changing hands.[12][13]

In 2007, Dark Horse Comics published a few volumes of Harvey Comics Classics, featuring the Harvey Girls, Baby Huey, Hot Stuff, Richie Rich, and Casper. In 2010, the company began publishing Harvey Comics Treasuries.

DreamWorks Animation[edit]

In 2012, animation studio DreamWorks Animation purchased Harvey Comics' parent company Classic Media, for $155 million.[14]

Distribution of cartoons[edit]

For years, the TV distribution rights to the Harveytoons library were licensed to Worldvision Enterprises. Worldvision would hold distribution rights to many earlier Famous Studios cartoons (plus most of the cartoons by Fleischer Studios) for a short time, until being absorbed by the television division of Paramount Pictures, which originally distributed the cartoons.

Universal Studios, which owns the pre-1950 Paramount sound features through its television division, once held video rights to the Harvey-owned cartoons, until 2001 when Classic Media obtained the animated catalog.

Harvey characters[edit]

Casper and his friends[edit]

Harvey Girls[edit]

Other characters[edit]

Harvey superheroes[edit]

Golden Age[edit]

Silver Age (Harvey Thriller)[edit]

Titles[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Arnold, Mark (undated). "Harvey Comics History". The Harveyville Fun Times! (fan site). Archived from the original on July 24, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b "Newswatch: Geppi: I Had Legal Title to Both the Pre and Post-1955 Harvey Original Art," The Comics Journal #229 (December 2000), pp. 7-8.
  3. ^ "Harvey Sues Marvel Star Comics, Charges Copyright Infringement," The Comics Journal #105 (Feb. 1986), pp. p. 23-24.
  4. ^ "Harvey Veteran Lenny [sic] Herman Dies," The Comics Journal #87 (December 1983), p. 21.
  5. ^ "From the Ashes: Charlton and Harvey to Resume Publishing This Spring," The Comics Journal #97 (April 1985), pp. 15-16.
  6. ^ "Harvey Loses $50 Million Ghostbusters Suit to Columbia Pictures," The Comics Journal #117 (September 1987), p. 21.
  7. ^ Arnold, Mark. "Blood and Thunder: Harvey Seeks SWM W/$$$," The Comics Journal #230 (February 2001), p. 3.
  8. ^ Janoff, Barry. "Harvey Sells Casper, Changes Classic Brand Name", Adweek, June 26, 2001. WebCitation archive.
  9. ^ Classic Media (official site)
  10. ^ Dean, Michael. "Newswatch: Sad Sack vs. Steve Geppi," The Comics Journal #228 (November 2000), p. 35.
  11. ^ Dean, Michael. "Newswatch: Geppi Accused of Plundering Harvey Warehouse," The Comics Journal #229 (December 2000), pp. 5-6.
  12. ^ Dean, Michael. "Newswatch: Sad Sack Suit Against Geppi; Countersuit Settled," The Comics Journal #249 (December 2002), p. 28.
  13. ^ "Geppi and Harvey Settle Suit Over Sad Sack Art," ICv2.com (June 19, 2002).
  14. ^ Verrier, Richard (July 23, 2012). "DreamWorks Animation buys 'Casper,' 'Lassie' parent Classic Media". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 31, 2013. 
  15. ^ Markstein, Don. Bunny at Don Markstein's Toonopedia Accessed Sept. 29, 2008.
  16. ^ Buzzy the Crow at Don Markstein's Toonopedia

External links[edit]