Comic Book Blast from the Past, Richie Rich Goes Hi-Tech
Naturally, it's a thrill to see Richie Rich resurrected for a new generation (and secretly, I’m also thrilled to find that he’s gotten a little bit cooler over the years. Not that the original dweeb doesn’t have a special place in my comic book heart.)
What’s more thrilling? I had the fortune to catch up with Buddy Scalera, writer for the new Richie Rich comic book series (#5 Heroes For A Day! #6 The Loch Is The Key) to get his insight on the clever new twists for our old pal, Richie Rich.
Comic Book Mom: Buddy, tell me more about the kid-awesome adventures you are planning for Richie Rich in the new series.
Scalera: I'm writing Richie Rich comics to be kid-awesome. These are the stories where kids say, "awesome!" It's high-fantasy, big imagination stuff. Most of these stories defy the basic laws of physics, which is why kids will like them, but they probably won't be included in school curriculum any time soon.
We're going under water, into outer space, hunting for monsters, and becoming superheroes. These are the kinds of adventures kids have always played. I'm just writing them as Richie Rich stories.
Comic Book Mom: Outer space, monsters, all very cool. What do you think best appeals to the kiddos of today's generation?
Scalera: That's a good question. I don't know. I mean, I know what my kids like and what I like, but I think that entertainment is really fragmented. When I was a kid, we all watched the same TV shows and read the same comics. Now there are so many choices on demand, it's easier for kids to focus exclusively on the stuff that they like.
Personally, as a writer, I think that most kids enjoy big fantasy stuff that doesn't try too hard to explain how everything is possible. We shoot Richie Rich into space, right? But I don't spend a single panel on the logic of a family just appearing in outer space. Or that they would make space suits Richie's friends, cousin, and dog too. I mean, why bother? Kids start their stories with, "okay, so let's be in outer space," and they start moving slowly like there's zero gravity.
I think kids want to get to the adventure, see it escalate, and then have it resolve with a happy ending. That's the formula I'm following with Richie Rich, since this is pure escapist entertainment for kids.
Comic Book Mom: Pure escapism for a adults, too, Buddy. Because I love how the new series just dives in! Tell us, how else has Richie Rich evolved?
Scalera: I think that Richie Rich has evolved to reflect modern society. When Richie Rich originally came out in the 50s, the country was different. The Depression was a not-so-distant memory and there were characters in the book that were so poor that they were literally barefoot. Then there was Richie, with his little-boy suit and his personal butler. They had this limitless wealth that was defined by "money can solve every problem." When I was reading these stories growing u, I would dream of being this rich instead of being a regular middle-class kid.
So much has changed since then that it made sense to have a modern Richie Rich. Brent Erwin and the guys at Ape Entertainment actually updated the cast. I just came in to write the stories.
Comic Book Mom: Even with his evolution, I noticed you’ve managed to keep Richie’s core values alive in the stories. What will old fans recognize the most with the modern Richie Rich?
Scalera: What's still intact is Richie's personality. Even with all of his wealth, he was a good kid. He really knows how to share and cares for his family and friends. He loves animals and cares about the world around him. We don't ever say those things, since we don't want to be preachy. We just show it through his actions, which I think is more interesting and sends a better message to kids.
We have the same characters from the original books including Richie, Gloria, Reggie, Cadbury, Irona, and Dollar. That's the core team, but we have all kinds of supporting characters like Freckles and Pee Wee. All of them are true to their original personalities, but they've been updated to interact in the modern world.
Richie always had access to futuristic technology. Now that we're living in a time where this futuristic technology actually exists, they use this technology to rescue people and animals. I hope that kids go outside and play Richie Rich games and pretend they have holographic wristwatches and personal jetpacks, so I include them into my stories.
Comic Book Mom: You have a really good sense of how children interact with the new comics and when reading, I found that your writing voice is very true to character. Do you incorporate real life experience into your writing of the new Richie Rich comics?
Scalera: As a dad of two girls, I am able to tap into my own personal focus group. When I work on stories, my youngest daughter and I play with action figures. In Richie Rich #7, the team goes into a volcano and have an adventure in the center of the earth. We played with action figures and it helped me work through the plot and dialogue.
Also, Gloria's voice and dialogue sound like my daughters. She's strong, confident, and really doesn't see herself doing "girlie" things. My daughters are like that too. They have light sabres and skateboards and like to wrestle. And when they feel like it, they can wear bows and dresses. Gloria is a terrific character because she's a smart, confident, and strong member of the Rich Rescue team.
Catch up with Buddy Scalera at http://www.buddyscalera.com or follow along on his blog http://www.wordspicturesweb.com
Find the new Richie Rich comics series at your local comic book retailer or find more deets at http://ape-entertainment.com/