Monday, October 21, 2013

Number 1458: “It’s a G-G-G-GHOST!”

Even before I was old enough for school Mom used to buy me comic books because I always went to them when we visited the drugstore. I demanded them. Mom was aware of criticisms of comic books and steered me away from the crime and horror. She looked over the racks, carefully, before picking out comics like Donald Duck, Little Lulu, Popeye, Felix the Cat, or even, as today, Casper the Friendly Ghost. I remember it because Mom worried it might scare me. Ha! My guess is that Mom picked out comics with characters she was familiar with from the animated cartoons shown in theaters.

The early Casper comic book was more like the one-gag animated cartoons, with their “It’s a G-G-G-GHOST!” I don’t know who drew it, but the first story has the initials TAM in the splash panel.

These two stories are from Casper the Friendly Ghost #4 (1951), published by St. John.


Brad S. said...

Was Casper ever given an origin? Was he a baby that died?

Pappy said...

Brad, I believe it was Crazy magazine in the '70s that published a satire called "Casper the Dead Baby." Sid Jacobson, who edited the Harvey Comics line, would say that Casper was NOT a dead baby, but was a "sprite" like the elves and fairies in the Enchanted Forest, where Casper and his pals lived.

I never bought that. I think when he was invented for animated cartoons no one thought of him as being a dead baby, but that's what he looks like.

BillyWitchDoctor said...

Crazy Magazine's "Kaspar the Dead Baby" in all its sick glory, written by Marv Wolfman with art by Marie Severin!

From The Simpsons, an alternate theory:

Bart: You know what I think? I think Casper is the ghost of Richie Rich.
Lisa: Hey, they do look alike!
Bart: I wonder how Richie died.
Lisa: Perhaps he realized how hollow the pursuit of money really is, and took his own life.

darkmark said...

In the movie CASPER, he was a kid named Casper McFadden who died, I believe, of pneumonia.

Mykal said...

The St. John's incarnation is the forgotten Casper. I've always had a real soft spot for this Casper, and these St. John's comics; despite that Harvey artists and writers (Kremer, Post, and many others) really defined the Casper universe and the Enchanted Forest.

Thanks for posting, Pappy.

Brad S. said...

Thanks, Pappy! I remember that Crazy spoof...probably hit too close to home for Harvey!

Daniel [] said...

As Casper wasn't created by or for Harvey or Jacobson, Jacobson's authority would be limited.

Casper doesn't have the psychology (or vocabulary) of a baby, nor that of an adolescent. If he's a dead child, then we have to figure he was about 10 years old when he died.

Like most kids, I barely worried about this issue. As it happened, my parents would get pretty much any comic book for their sons that wasn't unusually expensive, and my tastes never ran to Harvey Comics, though my brother's did.

Pappy said...

BillyWitchDoctor, thanks for the link. I remember the story, and in retrospect can see how the folks at Harvey might have been upset with it. Casper was not only a wholesome comic book character for young readers, he was a gold mine for licensing.

Pappy said...

Daniel, generally speaking, after I learned to read my mom would let me have what I wanted, barring horror or crime. So superheroes were fine, science fiction and of course funny animals were fine.

I was aware of the war against comic books being waged at the time. I filled out a questionaire at school that asked, "Do you read comic books? If so, which comic books are your favorites?" I was very careful in my answer and wrote Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge.