Tuesday, 21 October 2014

A Guh-Guh-Guh-Ghost! (or 6)

Continuing our spoooooooooky October blogs (I'm retroactively claiming the Sabrina post as part of a theme month) here is a (somewhat arbitrary) list of comic book ghosts:

1: CasperCasper, the Friendly Ghost, first appeared as an animated cartoon (produced by Paramount's Famous Studios) in 1945, created by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo before being turned into a popular comic book series starting in 1949, published by Harvey Comics (also home of Richie Rich, Hot Stuff the Little Devil and Wendy the Good Little Witch).

Very much aimed at young children, the typical story would see Casper wandering forlornly, wishing for a friend before encountering someone who would be instantly terrified ("A guh-guh-guh-ghost!") and running off. Not sure what happens next as I'd drift off thinking about Batman.
Fear Factor: 4/5
If that seems a little high, I'm going with the internal logic of the strips. Everyone and everyTHING is scared of Casper. Even his own reflection.

2: Harry
Star of the strip "Harry's Haunted House", he first appeared in Whizzer and Chips in 1969, drawn by Reg Parlett and continued until 1987. 

The greedy landlord (known only as "Landlord") who owned the house lived in a perpetual struggle to sell his property. Only he can't. Cos it's haunted. By Harry. Who doesn't want to leave.

A typical story would involve Landord trying to trick Harry into moving out or maybe just stay out of the way long enough to show potential tenants round. Landlord would always fail.

As the house was almost completely empty Harry would also struggle to keep warm and well-fed. Which throws up several other questions...
Fear Factor: 3/5

He's such a charming, friendly spook, you'd think it would be lower. But then I think about the hunger that extends beyond death. The restless souls that must still feast. And that is truly frightening.

3: Super Spook
Nope. Not doing him again.

Fear Factor: 0/5

4: Slimer
You're probably already aware of the Real Ghostbusters' loveable Farage-alike mascot. If you're about my age you may even have read the Marvel UK Real Ghostbusters comic. What you may not know (I only learned this recently myself) is that these comics were not reprints of American comics, as was fairly common at the time, but new stories written and drawn exclusively for the UK market. Marvel had lost out on the licence to make US comics to another publisher. I'm told they were rubbish.

Anyway, Slimer, based on the "John Belushi" ghost from 1984's Ghostbusters, was the "pet" of the RGs and would typically fly around, eating hotdogs and getting scared like an ectoplasmic Scooby Doo. The great Lew Stringer did a half-page "Slimer" strip, usually heavily pun-based.
Fear Factor: 1/5

More annoying than scary. Even his desire to eat seemed more out of habit than hunger.

5: Izabel
I LOVE SAGA SO MUCH! Izabel was a teenage girl killed by a landmine on the planet Cleave and bonded her soul with the baby Hazel in order to save her and her parents right back at the start of Saga in 2012.

Saga, by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples, quickly became a favourite with comics readers everywhere and if you're not reading it you really should. That's all I'm saying.
Fear Factor: 4/5

She might look quite sweet from the waist up, but I really wouldn't get on the wrong side of her. Plus I'm pretty sure we've barely seen the beginning of her powers.

6: The Gentleman Ghost
Jim Craddock, a hanged highwayman, first appeared to bother Hawkman back in 1947's Flash Comics #88 by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert. However it is his reappearance in 1980's Batman #319 (by Len Wein and Kubert) that is of particular note. Being an invisible dandy, sporting a top hat and a monocle, makes one stand out even in the criminal elite of Gotham but to Batman, he's just another punk with a ridiculous gimmick.
Bats shows how his supposed "ghostly" behaviour was merely elaborate parlour tricks, easily faked if you have access to the right technology.
And sure enough, we are shown hologram projectors and other such periphery that proves he is not *really* a ghost at all!
However, when Batman finally puts a stop to his crime spree and captures him, he simply.... vanishes. And the world's Greatest Detective has no idea how. Could he be.... Nah...

Fear Factor: 5/5

Seriously. He spooked Batman. BATMAN!

See you next time boils and ghouls! *Hysterical cackle*

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