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Marvel allies with Harvey Comics

SANTA MONICA, Calif., May 13 -- Harvey Comics Entertainment Inc. agreed Friday that Marvel Entertainment Group Inc. will take over publishing and distribution for Harvey, whose titles include 'Casper' and 'Richie Rich.'

The deal will expand Marvel, best known for such adolescent-oriented characters as Spiderman and the Fantastic Four, into the market for young children's comic books.

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Marvel said it plans to launch five Harvey titles this fall, then expand the lines next year.

Harvey stock gained 62.5 cents to $10.50 a share in Nasdaq trading in reaction to the announcement. Marvel was unchanged at $15.50 on the New York Stock Exchange.

'We are extremely pleased about this new association with Marvel, and we're confident that it ensures further publishing success for the Harvey line of children's comic books,' said Barry Blumberg, Harvey executive vice president.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Harvey, of Santa Monica, Calif., is 11.5 percent owned by Matshushita Electric Industrial Co. through its MCA Inc. subsidiary while New York-based Marvel is controlled by financier Ronald Perelman.

Harvey has been able in recent years to find new outlets for its characters, particularly with two potential blockbuster movies featuring Casper and Richie Rich.

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Steven Spielberg is producing a feature film dubbed 'Casper, the Friendly Ghost,' through his Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures with special effects by Industrial Light and Magic. It is set for a summer 1995 release.

'Richie Rich' is scheduled to start production this month at Warner Bros. and is set for release at Christmas 1994 with kid superstar Macaulay Culkin in the lead role. Culkin received a reported $8 million for his work.

Harvey has also recently signed a deal for 13 animated television episodes of 'Baby Huey' to go into syndication this fall.

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