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November 23, 2022 | Costello

Looking For Thoughts – Purse Haps

Once a week, longtime LFG fan and current LFG writer Ryan Costello looks at an element of Looking For Group lore, trivia, or development, and shares insight into why he appreciates it. This week, we look at LFG’s infamous fashion accessory of holding, Richard’s Pink Purse.

What’s Up With Richard’s Purse?

Reader Jeremy (no last name given, but I think we can safely assume it’s actor Jeremy Renner) wanted to know more about Richard’s purse.

I love this suggestion. You know a character element works when all you have to say is “Richard’s purse” to conjure up an image and feelings. Also, what’s fun about diving into the origin of Richard’s purse is that there kind of isn’t one.

First Purse Appearances

If you ask me where The Fork Of Truth comes from, or For Pony, I can point to the exact page and panel (page 15 and page 42, respectively). I can do that for basically every accessory that came with the Richard action figure. But Richard’s purse? It just showed up.

After looking through the archive, and cross referencing scripts, I’m confident the purse first appeared on page 600. From the script:

On top of being the first panel I saw the purse in, and the top result when I searched the master script for “purse” and filtered by earliest, notice the wording. “…trying to put his dragon into a purse.” Not “his” purse or “the” purse. It even reads like this is the first time a purse came to mind.

It gets acknowledged for the first time on the following page. Cale asks if Richard needs help getting his dragon out of his purse, to which Richard replies “It’s a handbag.”

And that’s it. From then on, Richard just had a handbag.

Origin Of The Purse

Just like how the purse first appeared inside the comic, Sohmer and Lar didn’t have a grand plan for the purse when they introduced it.

When I spoke with Lar about it, he opened with “I’m having trouble remembering when we started the purse gag.” He went on to explain:

I’m not even sure if it started as a ‘purse’ or just a bag for Richard to have stuff in. I’m fairly certain the pink with flower was my idea though. That tends to be how Sohmer and I (and now you) work. You roughly describe the need of a thing then I go ahead and muck around. Like the occasional argyle socks, background gag or the Fel Bunny, sometimes I just draw a thing I think is funny and it inspires Sohmer to do more with it. If Richard was gonna have a purse or a carry sack, it was going to be fun to draw one. Fun for me at least 😊 Not only was the bag fairly easy and quick to incorporate, the big cartoony flower just looked so absurdly wonderful combined with Richard’s foreboding looks.

Lar on The Purse

Sohmer’s answer isn’t in writing, but it’s basically the same. He wasn’t even sure who originally came up with it, but it evolved through unspoken riffing between the two. He’d add to the idea in a script, Lar would add to the idea in his art.

Evolution Of The Purse

In its first few appearances, Lar drew the purse like a packed duffle bag. Richard even swings it around to fight Legion soldiers. It disappeared into hammer space for a few weeks, reappearing on page 616, still much bigger than we would come to know it.

It’s not seen again until page 716, now looking even more like a duffle bag than a purse or handbag. This is after page 705‘s one year jump, so if you’re looking for an in-continuity explanation for it shrinking, we can’t use “it happened during the time jump.”

The next mention of the purse is on page 768, but we don’t see it again until page 772. Finally, it looks like a handbag, the shape I tend to think of it in.

Richard’s purse took 600 pages to show up. It only appeared fleetingly for the next 200 pages. But then, it took off, appearing as a gag and eventually for major plot points in many issues going forward.

The Future Of The Purse

Getting back to Jeremy (who you’ll remember from such films as American Hustle, The Bourne Legacy, Tag, and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters), he asked “Is it sentient? Just a place? A fully fledged but relatively uncommunicative NPC?”

No. To all of the above.

I think.

If looking back on the origin of Richard’s purse shows us anything, it’s that plans change. What can be planned for a one-off gag can evolve to be world changing. Such is the nature of creative collaboration. In fact, by asking if maybe the bag is sentient, Hawkeye may have hit a bullseye we didn’t even know was there!