Tentacle Tuesday: By the Sign of the Jack-in-the-Box Harlequin

As Tentacle Tuesday creeps by once again, we found ourselves knee-deep in ghosts and devils – adorable, baby-featured ones. As a matter of fact, if you’re the kind who breaks out in hives when exposed to an overdose of cuteness, I would suggest skipping this week’s installment.

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The best-known titles published by Harvey Comics, whether comic book adaptations of an animated cartoon (for instance, Casper the Friendly Ghost or Baby Huey, both adapted from Paramount’s Famous Studios cartoons) or original series, are certainly no passion of mine for the simple reason that the stories are, for the most part, quite boring. Their strained slapstick elicits, at best, a semi-chuckle: each character is so tied to a shtick that the whole thing becomes predictable very quickly. Hot Stuff, the little devil with temperature regulation problems, constantly burns through and/or melts stuff. Little Dot draws polka dots on everything – or hangs out with giraffes. Little Lotta demolishes all food in sight à la Garfield. Richie Rich swims in money, eats money, inhales money. Wendy the Good Little Witch is nauseatingly boring (I disagree with that being a viable definition of “good”).

All of these characters have redeeming features – their heart is in the right place and they enthusiastically come to the aid of friends and animals. The Harvey Girls, as they’re called (Little Lotta, Little Dot and Little Audrey) are clever and enterprising, if spoiled and headstrong, which is a pleasant change from females in need of rescuing. I wouldn’t go as far as calling their antics “proto-feminist”, notwithstanding the lofty claim made to that effect in the introduction to the Dark Horse Harvey Girls anthology.

One can hem and haw about it all day, but there is one redeeming and indisputably striking feature, and it’s one to contend with: the covers are beautiful! Lovingly designed, gorgeously coloured, they’re pure eye candy.

We have artist and art editor Warren Kremer, who worked at Harvey for some 35-odd years starting in 1948, to thank for that. See my colleague’s Little Dot’s Playful Obsession and his spotlight on Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost for more details. Me? I shall simply concentrate on tentacles.

CasperandNightmare21
Casper & Nightmare no. 21 (1968). Casper the Friendly Ghost was adapted from Famous Studiosanimated cartoon, and soon gave birth, so to speak, to a score of spinoffs, such as Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost and Wendy the Good Little Witch.
Richie-Rich-128
Richie Rich no. 128 (September 1974). Richie Rich, yet another Warren Kremer character, debuted in Little Dot. Don’t you just love the super-bashful octopus?
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Devil Kids Starring Hot Stuff no. 67 (December 1974). Hot Stuff the Little Devil is another Kremer character.
RichieRichProfits5
Richie Rich Profits no. 5 (June 1975)
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Casper Digest no. 2 (December 1986). This would be a far nicer image sans all the page-cluttering copy (and bar code)!

~ ds

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