|Formerly called Harvey Comics|
Predecessor Brookwood Publications
Headquarters New York City
Founder Alfred Harvey
Ceased operations 1994
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. The artist Warren Kremer is closely associated with the publisher.
- 1980s decline and sale
- Harvey Comics Entertainment
- Sunland Entertainment
- Distribution of cartoons
- Casper and his friends
- Richie Rich and his friends
- Harvey Girls
- Other characters
- Golden Age
- Silver Age Harvey Thriller
Harvey's signature mascot is "Joker," a harlequin jack-in-the-box character.
Harvey Comics was founded by the Harvey brothers, Leon, Robert and Alfred in the 1940s. Harvey Comics first acquired an existing faltering title from Brookwood Publications, Speed Comics. The title's headliners were Shock Gibson and Captain Freedom, a patriotic hero like The Shield. Harvey added more anthologies including Champion Comics and Pocket Comics. From the new titles only one would stay around for awhile was The Black Cat, a Hollywood starlet/superhero, which was published into the 1950s.
Harvey began a shift to licensed characters when in 1942 took over as the radio hero Green Hornet's publisher from Holyoke after six issues. Harvey added additional titles such that most of their titles were licensed. Licensed characters included Joe Palooka, Blondie, Dick Tracy, and other newspaper strip characters.
The company ultimately became best known for characters it published in comics from 1950s onward, particularly those it licensed from the animation company Famous Studios, a unit of Paramount Pictures, starting in 1951. 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.
On July 27, 1958, 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
By the early 1980s, Marvel Comics was in negotiations with Harvey Comics to assume publication of some of their characters. Harvey editor Sid Jacobson, along with the other Harvey staff, were interviewed by Mike Hobson, Marvel's group vice-president of publishing (de facto publisher). As part of the process, Jacobson created several new characters which were well received by Hobson and effectively sealed the deal. Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter appointed editor Tom DeFalco as Executive Editor to coordinate with the Harvey staff, who were hired by Marvel. On the day Marvel was set to take over the Harvey publications, Harvey Comics pulled out of the deal due to an internal disagreement among the two remaining Harvey brothers, Alfred and Leon. Harvey would cease publishing their comics in 1982.
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.
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. (Veteran Harvey writer/artist Lennie Herman had created Royal Roy for Star Comics. Herman died in 1983 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 under the leadership of Alan Harvey (Alfred's oldest son), 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, 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."
Harvey Comics Entertainment
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.
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).
Montgomery was ousted from HCE in 1997, and in 2001, the company sold its Harvey properties and rights to the Harvey name to Classic Media. HCE was renamed Sunland Entertainment Co. Sunland produced additional films and distribute its library of 150 films and 60 television episodes.
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. In late 2000, Alan Harvey sued Steve Geppi over his 1984 acquisition of the Sad Sack original art, charging that Geppi had plundered Harvey's warehouses. Geppi countersued, claiming that he had legal title to the original art. 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.
Distribution of cartoons
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 (DreamWorks Classics) obtained the animated catalog. In 2016, the Harvey Comics properties returned to Universal.