Friendly ghost resurrectedWritten by Jim Beard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“Nostalgia as commodity” is the current battle-cry of the comics industry, and many companies view looking back as a way to move forward. While debate rages as to what readers cater to, young or old, past properties of former glory are being dusted off and given shiny new life.
Even Dark Horse, a company known for cutting-edge ideas, is seeking to tug on the heartstrings of older fans and in the process rope in a few new ones.
“Harvey Comics Classics Volume One: Casper,” just published, is the first in a new series of Dark Horse trades that promises a retrospective tour of one of the most popular comic book characters ever. Casper the Friendly Ghost began his unlife in cartoons in 1945 and was finally given a name when he appeared in his own comic in 1949. Harvey Publications got hold of him in 1952, and the little ghost boy flew through myriad adventures with them until the 1990s.
The talented and largely unheralded Warren Kremer became Casper’s regular artist and together man and ghost created a fantastical world of poltergeists, witches, ogres, and of course, human adults who just didn’t understand poor Casper. The joke was that Casper was not a scary shade but rather a little tot who just wanted a friend. Children loved him, and adults were frightened of him. This lasted for decades and Casper’s world grew to engulf more than two dozen Harvey titles before his second untimely demise.
Dark Horse’s collection contains more than 100 of the very best Casper stories, ranging from the 1950s to the 1970s, and is printed from “crisp black-and-white printer’s proofs and original artwork from the old Harvey archives.” There is also a 64-page color section. These stories are true gems from a more innocent age, ones that can and will appeal to nostalgia-minded old schoolers and possibly even to a new generation of fans. It’s a fine example of how today’s technology and graphic design can punch up valuable treasures from the past.
Dark Horse plans for Volume Two to spotlight Richie Rich, the “Poor Little Rich Boy,” and Volume Three to exorcise Hot Stuff, the Little Devil. If all goes well, the company reports they have plans to begin a complete Harvey archival series that will reprint all the material, from start to finish. Nostalgia lives and history survives, thanks to a market that demands diversity and covers the gamut in ages and tastes.