As much as I try and keep this blog to the subject of illustration and favorite illustrators, I tend at times to drift into areas of nostalgia, in particular, nostalgia for my childhood. But even when I'm indulging in nostalgia, I try and have a link to something illustrated. In this posting, I'm going to share another toy from my childhood, that is if you can count a card game as a toy (since the back of each card has a small logo on it that says "A Built Rite Toy," I guess I'll let that be my confirmation that they are toys).
I have three old card games from my childhood that were based around cartoon or comic strip characters. In this posting I will show you the cards based on the Harvey cartoon characters.
The Harvey cartoon characters that we all know and love, the most well known of which is Casper the Friendly Ghost, have a rather convoluted background. Casper (who is not represented in this card game) was a cartoon character developed in 1945 by Famous Studios (which itself came into being after Paramount absorbed the Fleischer brothers' debt-ridden studio). In 1951, Harvey Comics, who was already licensing newspaper comic strip characters like Dick Tracy, licensed Famous Studios' cartoon characters, including Casper. At the same time they began releasing comic books with characters that they had created (Wendy the Good Little Witch, Little Dot, Richie Rich, etc). In the late fifties, Harvey Comics stopped licensing the characters from Famous Studios and purchased all rights to them. In 1963 they started producing their own cartoons, the "Harveytoons," that I'm sure many of you baby boomers remember from your childhoods. (Thanks to Don Markstein's Toonopedia website for this background information).
I don't know the individual histories of the characters represented on these cards or even when these cards were manufactured (there is no date or copyright marked anywhere that I could see). I suspect they are from around 1963 or 1964. I believe that Wendy the Good Little Witch, Spooky, Nightmare and the Ghostly Trio were all spinoffs from the Casper series. I have strong memories of seeing all of these supernatural characters in either cartoons or in comic books. I have vague memories of cartoons starting Inchy and Wolfie, but I have no memory of Pedro or Little Feather. Wily Fox, Moe Hare and Tommy Tortoise are so generic that if I remember them at all, I may be confusing them with similar characters created by other studios (what studio didn't create their own version of the Tortoise and the Hare story?).
It would have been great if the backside of the cards depicted a grouping of the Harvey characters, but instead we have a group of generic funny animals and goofy people. In closing, I'll mention a few things about the cards that I love - Besides the great artwork of these once famous characters, I love the wavy edge of each card, which according to the box top, was designed to more easily fit the hand, making them easier to hold. I also love the box itself which has a clamshell opening design, which is much sturdier than the other card game boxes I have where the flaps have torn and in some cases gone missing.
I hope seeing these cards, have jogged a few memories for some of you. For those of you new to the Harvey characters, I hope you have found this interesting and will be curious enough to seek out their old comics or to read them in their newly released archive collections being put out by Dark Horse comics.