You Got the Right Stuff, Richie.

In this crappy economic climate, I find it soothing to think back to a more fruitful era, like the 1980s. It seemed possible that we could all someday sleep on a pile of money, since even children like Richie Rich were ridiculously wealthy. Computers were going to solve all of our problems. Soon a pill would be developed to provide us with all our dietary needs. And we could be sure that a certain pop group's star would never stop rising.

Yes, I'm talking about the New Kids on the Block.

But, like a Hypercolor t-shirt, NKOTB did not age so well.

Except Jon. Lookin' fine, Jon. Lookin' eerily similar, in fact.

Anyway, at one point in this magical era, the New Kids on the Block, who were pretty wealthy themselves, met the richest kid around, Richie Rich.


Both Richie and the Kids have pretty sweet lives, so this was the crisis for the issue. The New Kids on the Block are lost in Richie's giant, luxorious mansion. What's next? A harrowing issue where Richie has too much ice cream and the New Kids have to help him eat it?


Anyway, the gist of the story is that it's Richie's birthday and he wants to go see the New Kids in concert. (Me too, Richie. But the reunion tour isn't coming to Halifax.)  Richie's Dad decides to play a trick on him, and tell him the tickets were sold old, but surprise Richie with having the New Kids play at his party.

It's a "party to end all parties," which is a bit of a tragic title in retrospect, since some of the members of NKOTB almost snorted their way to the big party in the sky.

But at this point, the New Kids are just down to earth Boston boys. They arrive at Richie's place for the birthday party and lose their shit over the size of Richie's mansion. And I have to stress again, that these guys are not doing bad for themselves either. Richie is RICH!

The New Kids are a little slow, which is probably realistic, and can't figure out how to get in.

I'm going to assume that all the punning is also realistic.

From here, they just keep running into crazy crap all over the Rich residence. It's run-of-the-mill rich people's stuff—the Elephant Man's bones and whatnot—until they find one room that holds a fully functioning circus, made entirely of robots.

Weird. Why would the Rich family have these? Secret military weapons? Do they run a nightmare factory? The look on that clown's face is truly terrifying.

I think this is the kind of dark shit that lead to Donnie Wahlberg's role in the Sixth Sense. Remember?


Luckily, just when things are getting dire, Donnie locates a room-finding computer. Good on ya, Donnie. You'll survive when the rest of the Kids perish. 

But the computer can't decipher their thick Bostonian accents and their rap-influenced dialect. Remember, computers were very literal in the 80s. You were like, "What up, computer?" and they were like, "2.65 meters above me is the ceiling, human."

So the computer sends them to the weather room!

Richie eventually finds the Kids by taking off the removable roof to the mansion and air-lifting them out by helicopter. Clearly using resources where they're needed. So, NKOTB make it to the party.

Well, sure. It's easy to say friendship is more important than money when you're crazy rich. That's the NKOTB manager, Maurice Starr, providing that little platitude by the way.

This moral is slightly cheapened by the ad on the next page.

I hope NKOTB's friendship costs less than $2.99 per minute these days. I'm not sure I can afford that.

Review of advertising, By Johnathan

So, as you might have been able to tell by even a casual glance at the rest of my entries in this blog of love and magic, I like the old comics - I find them delicious. One of the things that I love the most about these funnybooks of yore is the advertising - partially because the way that things are advertised has changed so much and partially because no matter how gandiose the claims made or exciting the typeface used, I know in advance how successful the product was, and can snicker to myself on a level totally different from that on which I usually snicker at advertising.

But enough generalities - how about some specific examples, eh Johnathan? (this is what I'm imagining you saying - good job on spelling my name right, by the way.) Very well: here are some advertisements that I have oh-so-tenderly liberated from their original contexts.
(I recommend clicking on the images to get the full impact of their majesty)

First up:
So, putting aside the fact that the cartoon spokescat looks like he's hooked on a mild euphoric (Which is not actually uncommon - I believe that if such characters were real, the stigma of possible drug abuse would hover over their misshapen heads like a life of petty crime haunts the future of every child sitcom star), and putting aside the notion that anyone could have fun playing with those crappy-looking models - let alone acquire a million laughs from each, or from both in tandem - the real eye-catchers for me in this ad were the three young chaps that were oh-so impressed by el Gato's drug-addled ramblings. Let's take a closer look, shall we?
The first of these youngsters, although noseless, might be the only honest one of the bunch - he took AMT's money but he just couldn't bring himself to praise such stupid models, so just went with an expression of polite disbelief. I'll bet that he grew up to be a mildly corrupt cop. The second child, who I'm guessing - due to the same congenital lack of nose - is the first tyke's brother, chooses to focus on the model-building process - with his talents of obfuscation and misdirection, he's probably gone into politics. The third kid... well, putting aside the fact that he's flat-out lying and he knows it: look at that face! You could insert basically any evil thing that you want into that speech balloon and it will look totally natural. "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die." "In exactly thirty minutes the Statue of Liberty will be no more.""Kill all of the kittens." Kid gives me the creeps. Probably lurking in somebody's closet right now.
I include this ad only so that I can point out that a)"It's magically delicious!" is a much better catch phrase than "Tis a charmin' cereal... simply charmin.'" and b) Either this is Lucky the Leprechaun's dad, or ol' Lucky's had a facelift some time in the last thirty-odd years.
It's a bitchin' bike, and not a bad idea, but the four-panel format always left a lot of questions unanswered in the various adventures of the i patrol that've cropped up in my reading over the years. For instance: everyone leaps into action / onto their bicycles in order to find this kid, but the bikes don't really come into the resolution of the adventure, like they would if the kid were trapped in, say, a half-pipe or been kidnapped by someone in a motorized wheelchair. Also: character development. This kid in the sombrero intrigues me - I didn't think that sombreros were big as accessories in the late Sixties, and if I'm right I want to know why this kid's got one on. Is he half Mexican? Was the iversion Corporation so in the know that they were trying to woo the Hispanic segments of the purchasing public decades before anyone else? Sadly, I doubt that we'll ever know.
Hoo boy - this one's a doozy. Setting aside the fact that those kids look kind of like store mannequins brought to hideous life, and setting aside the fact that the text starts rhyming halfway through, we come to the really important question: What the hell?

What the hell was this thing? It looks like somebody read - no, skimmed - a book on mysticism and fortune-telling, and then crammed as much of it as possible into a single creepy package. You got the name, Ka-bala, which is surely not meant to invoke the spirit of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism, as popularized by Madonna), surely. You got Taro(t) cards, you got some faux ouija board stuff with the old Eye of Zohar (which looks a bit like a Magic Eightball, come to think of it) - you've even got several references to the marble being made of crystal, which is probably no mistake. Cripes - I'm surprised that there wasn't a little fold-out table where you could read the entrails of a plastic bird.

Little backgound on the last entry: the Phantom Stranger is this mysterious guy who gets into all of the magical business in the DC Universe. He might be all powerful, and he might be a semi-fallen angel, and he might be a lot of things. Every time that somebody tries to really nail down what the Stranger's really all about, somebody else muddies the water again. He's mysterious. Only three things about him are known for sure: he has a cool name, he has a cool hat, and in this one Hellblazer comic he shows up at John Constantine's birthday party and gets vomited on, which was cool. Anyway, apparently at one point he had a comic book all to himself, and here's the ad: Children! Are you prepared to follow strangers? Phantom strangers? Awesome.

Everything's JOHN APPROVED