I never cared much for Richie Rich, preferring the more magical adventures of Casper the Friendly Ghost , Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost, and Hot Stuff the Little Devil. But I did notice two things that happened to Richie during the mid-1970s, when I was in high school.
1. Richie gets a new boy pal, a young comedian named Jackie Jokers, who likes him. A lot. Holding hands during the crisis, hugging when the crisis is averted, stammering "If anything were to happen to you....". In one story, he makes his romantic intentions very clear: "If you weren't always wearing that silly red bowtie, I'd marry you."
2. Previously Richie had been drawn as a pudgy kid in a Little Lord Fauntleroy outfit. When depicted in swimsuit or shirtless shots, his body was nondescript:
But, just as the homoromantic subtext began, Richie grew some biceps, pecs, and abs. He had almost as many preteen muscles as Tommy Norden on Flipper.
Coincidence? Or a way to draw the avid interest of pubescent gay boys, some thirty years before Kevin Keller became the first official gay character in kids' comics?