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AICN COMICS Q&@: Optimous Douche chats with Ape Entertainment EIC Jason Burns about RICHIE RICH!

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AICN COMICS: Q&@ is our new semi-weekly interview column where some of your favorite @$$Holes interview comic bookdom’s biggest, brightest, newest, and oldest stars. Enjoy this latest in-depth interview filled with @$$y goodness and be sure to look for more AICN COMICS as we gaze into the future of comics every week with AICN COMICS: SPINNER RACK PREVIEWS every Monday and then join the rest of your favorite @$$Holes for their opinions on the weekly pull every Wednesday with AICN COMICS REVIEWS!

Q’s by Optimous Douche!

@’s by RICHIE RICH’s Jason Burns!

Optimous Douche here. Before BATMAN or X-MEN seeped into my longboxes, and even before Macaulay Culkin was huffing Glade air freshener on set, the adventures of RICHIE RICH consumed my entire existence. For starters we were dead ringers for one another; secondly he was called the “poor little rich boy,” a juxtaposition that piqued my interest way before I knew what the hell juxtaposition was; finally, moments before this interview my parents called to remind me that I still have 5 RICHIE RICH boxes occupying their basement despite the fact I moved out over ten years ago. So, it’s with little surprise when I caught wind of Ape Entertainment’s revival of master Rich I was on top of it faster than Dollar on a gold plated leg. Jason Burns, Editor-in-Chief of Ape Entertainment, could smell my rabid fandom through the intertubes and obliged me a few words on the future of RICHIE RICH.

OPTIMOUS DOUCHE (OD): How did Ape Entertainment end up getting involved in the venerable Harvey property?

JASON BURNS (JB): The company had been looking to acquire a few all-ages properties to round out our roster of books following the announcement of our DreamWorks Animation line, which included SHREK, PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR, and MEGAMIND. RICHIE RICH was a property that we could not only tap into the nostalgic love for, but simultaneously reinvent for a new generation of readers. I hate to sound cliché, but it really was a no-brainer for us once we started to look at what we could do with it, and given the amazingly overwhelming response so far, Richie fans were hungry for more of their favorite Harvey characters. So once again, here I am being cliché…no brainer!

OD: So when you say "all-ages" can we assume this new version of RICHIE RICH will skew older than past iterations?

JB: Slightly. What we’ve done is taken Richie and the memorable supporting cast, and we’ve dropped them into a world of action and adventure, where essentially Richie uses his money for good, helping the less fortunate and hunting down treasures for museums, etc. Each issue will be self-contained, though there will be some underlining threads that will connect them all. So while younger kids can still read the books, older fans will be able to follow along and find more that what is visible on the surface.

OD: Were you able to secure rights to Richie's partners in his past adventures like Irona, Professor Keenbean, Cadbury, the Van Dough's...I can go on like this for awhile, please stop me.

JB: All your favorites will be there, and then on top of that, we’ll be pulling some lesser known characters from the vault that people will want to revisit in the old Harvey comics. In other words, the Richie door was left wide open for us, so we guided as many of the old characters over the threshold and into the new comics as possible.

OD: What's the plan for introducing new readers to the world of RR...Can we expect an origin?

JB: We’re not going to retrace it all the way back to an origin, but we will reintroduce readers to the characters and basically set up the new feel of the series. Starting in Ape Entertainment’s Free Comic Book Day offering, we will thrust readers into the new world of Richie and give them a taste of the action/adventure they’re going to see, and then in issue 1, the first story in the book, basically a prologue, will give everyone an idea what Rich Rescue is all about before jumping into the first arc.

OD: You dropped a bit of a spoiler bomb in your last response with "Rich Rescue"; can you expand a little more on that transition? Richie Rich certainly always helped people, but it never stretched much beyond his own town.

JB: Rich Rescue is the name that Richie and the gang work under. So, while he goes to school like any other normal kid, he also spends his free time scouring the globe and helping the less fortunate, uncovering long lost relics, and stopping bad guys from doing bad things. He’s a hero, but done so in a grounded way. He doesn’t have any super powers, but what he does have is an unlimited bank account that has enabled him to have access to all sorts of things that other kids wouldn’t, so instead of using his fortune for selfish reasons, he’s using it for good.

OD: So how "real" will the problems be that Richie tackles?

JB: The stakes and danger will be real, handled in a grounded way, but the circumstances will be a bit more outrageous, allowing for some fun, wild stories to be told. And this includes Richie’s gallery of baddies, which we’re all very excited about.

OD: In the original series Richie was clearly a little boy and then in the ABC cartoon Richie eighty-sixed the short pants to move into the trousers of teen years. What age bracket will the new Richie (and presumably his pals) fall into?

JB: In the new series, Richie is a young kid, but he’s aged beyond his years. He still has a lot to learn, but he’s done more and seen more than most adults, so at times, he may seem a bit older than his physical appearance suggest. At the core though, Rich Rescue is made up of kids… sort of like The Goonies, but with less Chester Copperpot.

OD: For Richie's supporting cast can we expect an update of the ancillary characters? Any changes specific changes to the likes of Cadbury, Professor Keenbean (since geek is now chic) and Irona (please say the wig is gone -- please say the wig is gone).

JB: The wig is gone. That was on Ape’s itinerary pretty early in the process. Haha. But yeah, they all get a bit of an update, but I wouldn’t say it’s to the point where people wouldn’t recognize them. I will definitely suggest that Cadbury is cooler now than he ever was, and if I had a butler, he would be the guy who I hired for many different reasons, none of which involve his butler abilities. I think he’s going to become a fan favorite.

OD: Are there any tidbits you can drop on the creative teams that will be tackling young master Richie?

JB: We have compiled a small army of writers and artists to take on Richie, including a team that has worked on the character since the beginning of the Harvey days, Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon, which we are very excited about. Each issue will feature a lead story, as well as two smaller back-up stories, so we’ve got plenty of room for multiple writers and artists, including Tom DeFalco, Bill Williams, and Buddy Scalera on the writing side of things, and then artists like Jack Lawrence, Tina Francisco, and Armando Zanker on the art side. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of gears turning in the creation of this series, but because we mapped out the overall arc in-house, we’ve been able to track the through threads so that it all ties together.

OD: Will we be seeing one Richie title or multiples like back in the Billions and Zillions days?

JB: We’ll be starting off with one title, but you never know. The world of Richie is certainly historically known for its multiple titles, but for now, we’re going to focu$ on one and put all of our energy into it. (Yes, that’s a dollar sign in my focus!)

OD: When will the first issues start hitting the shelves?

JB: We’re kicking off in May, both with Free Comic Book Day, and issue 1. It’s a Richiepalooza.

OD: For anyone that says comics are no longer for kids, I implore you to pick up RICHIE RICH # 1 this May for the little ragamuffins in your life. The gods willing, hopefully it will spur some little tyke to one day take on the mantle of Rodimous Douche in 2020.

Optimous has successfully blackmailed fellow @$$Hole BottleImp into being his artist on Average Joe. Look for Imp's forced labor on Optimous brain child in mid-2011 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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