CASPER, The Friendly Ghost

February 27, 2009

The amiable apparition known as Casper was first spotted in a 1945 Famous Studios Noveltoon series cartoon called The Friendly Ghost. His creators, veterans-Seymour V. Reit and Joe Oriolo had previously worked on the Archie Comics, and work with Felix the Cat, respectively. The idea of a ghost who was not spooky seemed like a great idea to viewers and three years after his debut, Casper resurfaced in There's Good Boos Tonight. Though Casper may not have won many friends in his cartoon world, he garnered a great deal of fans in the real world.

Soon, he was the star of his own full blown series, which lasted throughout the 1950s. Each episode centered on Casper's quest for acceptance, relentlessly tugging our heartstrings with his weepy, innocent wide eyed face.

Not everything about Casper was pitiful, though. He holds the distinction of being the only Famous Studios character not to be a modeled after another studio's work. His Famous peers, Herman and Katnip were Tom & Jerry imitators. Little Audrey was Little Lulu-inspired. But Casper held his own in a sea of rehashes, to become the standard for all other companies, looking to capitalize on the ghost-against-type premise. His successors include Homer the Happy Ghost, Timmy the Timid Ghost and Spunky the Smiling Spook.

St. John Publishing first released its line of Casper comics in 1949. At the time, he was still known only as The Friendly Ghost. St. John knighted him Casper before he swooshed over to Harvey Comics in 1952. Harvey must've empathized with the translucent little guy, for he was given a family in Harvey Comics the Ghostly Trio a horse, Nightmare and a less redundant plot with the introduction of a concrete nemesis, Spooky the Tough Little Ghost. He also found a long lasting friend in Wendy the Good Little Witch, a Harvey Comics star in her own rite.

Casper has enjoyed a great deal of success over the years, starring in several made for TV movies, as well as a live action release opposite Christina Ricci and Bill Pullman in 1995.

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