Everyone is familiar with Casper, the Friendly Ghost and his little Casperverse at Harvey Comics, but did you know that from the mid 40s right up until the early 70s a number of Casper clones haunted the funnybook world?
Next to Casper, Homer the Happy Ghost may be the best known Casper clone. Homer was created by Stan Lee and Dan DeCarlo (who would go on to really make his mark at Archie Comics). Homer was introduced in 1955 and his first series ran for 22 issues. He also had a spin-off, the Adventures of Homer Ghost, which ran for only 2 issues in 1957 before falling victim to the Atlas implosion. Marvel rebooted the franchise in 1969, but the second volume (containing reprints) lasted a mere 4 issues.
Always happy to follow the latest trend, Charlton hopped aboard the bandwagon with Timmy, the Timid Ghost #3 (February, 1956). This was a fairly successful series, and the first volume ran until 1966, ending with issue #45. It was re-launched a year later, lasting another 23 issues until 1971. Timmy was one of the few Charlton titles selected for the final days of the Charlton Empire, with 3 issues published in 1985 and 1986. I have one of these and can tell you that they do not pop up for sale all that often.
A very important, yet obscure figure in the ‘friendly ghost’ movement was Spencer Spook. He first appeared in Giggle Comics #21 in 1945; pre-dating the Friendly Ghost (his name before he was christened Casper). He starred in many of the later issues of the series for quite a few years before it was renamed Spencer Spook, which only lasted two issues in 1955.
Spunky, the Smiling Spook is the first of many friendly ghosts introduced by third tier publisher Ajax-Farrell. As far as I can tell, Spunky first appeared in the long running funny animal series Frisky Fables in the late 40s. I’ve only got a couple of these, so I can’t quite pin down precisely when he first came onto the scene. His eponymous series was launched in August, 1957, and ran for 4 issues, reprinting earlier stories from Frisky Fables.
I know next to nothing about Lil Ghost, except that it must have been one of the last series launched by St. John. I assume that he was designed by Al Fago (he looks like a cousin to Timmy). I find it somehow ironic that Casper’s first comic book home (he was at St. John before being licensed to Harvey Comics) would go out with a cheap knock-off like Lil Ghost.
I know even less about Mighty Ghost, the 2nd Ajax/Farrell entry into the cute ghost industry. Continuing the numbering from Mighty Bear, Mighty Ghost #4 (June, 1958) was the only issue published.
I think that Ajax-Farrell’s Super Spook is the exact same character as Mighty Ghost. He was also the star of a single issue, also a #4 issue and also published in June of 1958. I’m certain that one day, comic book historians will point to this book as the nadir of the Casper clone fad.
There are probably others out there folks, so keep your eyes out for books for chracters that look and behave like Casper, but lack a certain something. For more funnbook talk, stop by my blog Seduction of the Indifferent
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