The San Francisco based Cartoon Art Museum will open an exhibit starting June 28 featuring “a visual history of one of the most popular comic book publishers of all time: Harvey Comics.” Harvey Comics produced many memorable cartoon characters such as Casper The Friendly Ghost, Wendy The Good Little Witch, Richie Rich, The Poor Little Rich Boy; Hot Stuff, The Little Devil, Sad Sack, Joe Palooka, Little Dot, Little Audrey and Little Lotta. This exhibit includes original artwork and merchandise that helped define the “Harvey” look.
Harvey Comics was founded in 1941 by Alfred Harvey (1913-1994), with a digest-sized comic book called Pocket Comics that put the company on the map with their line-up of superheroes that included The Black Cat. Various artists and writers who eventually achieved greater success elsewhere got their start at Harvey, including Jack Kirby, Joe Simon and Jim Steranko. By the end of the 1940s, Harvey transitioned to publishing comic books featuring popular comic strips of the day that included Joe Palooka, Dick Tracy, Blondie, Mutt & Jeff and Sad Sack. By the 1950s, romance and horror titles came into the mix.
An inspired bit of licensing in 1952 led to the 1957 purchase of Casper and several other animated cartoon characters created by Paramount Pictures’ Famous Studios, with Baby Huey, Buzzy the Crow, Herman & Katnip and Little Audrey among them. The enormous popularity of these characters spelled the end of the other genres at Harvey, and the company became solely a producer of children’s comics during that era.
Various newly created characters, such as Richie Rich, Little Dot and Little Lotta, followed the same house style to become a group affectionately known as the “Harvey World,” Though various ownership changes have occurred since the original Harvey shut its doors in 1982, the characters have never ceased to be influential, with hit movies like Richie Rich (1994), starring Macaulay Culkin, or Casper (1995), starring Christina Ricci, or the current five-volume series of Harvey Comics Classics published by Dark Horse Comics.
This exhibition runs through November 30, 2008, and features artwork by Warren Kremer, Ernie Col’on, Sid Couchey, Howard Post, Fred Rhoads, Ham Fisher, Dom Sileo, Marty Taras, and many more.