Monday, July 23, 2007

Ghost From The Past

Last Wednesday I was able to pick up something I've been looking forward to for months - a book called Harvey Comics Classics volume 1: Casper the Friendly Ghost. This 480 page softcover book includes a cross section of comic stories starring Casper and his friends from the 1950's through 1966, most of the book being in crisp, clean black and white while two sections include restored color pages that really give a feel for those classic newsprint pages of yesteryear.

This weekend I had a chance to read through the book. It's a pretty quick read, especially for an adult who grew up on this stuff. Quite a few of the earliest comic stories are in fact adaptions from the old Paramount Casper cartoons that used to rerun on television. Reading those tales immediately brought back to mind those animated gems from the early days of cartoons. All the classic characters are there: Casper and his friendly ghost steed Nightmare, his best friend in the world Wendy the Good Little Witch, his rowdy buddy Spooky, and the Ghostly Trio, his housemates and constant source of conflict. It was really nice to see the evolution of the artwork as the characters developed into those I fondly remember.

The book instantly took back to the early 1970's. I recalled fondly spending summer afternoons on the back porch of my across-the-street friend Jeanie, reading and trading the latest Harveys, Archies and Gold Keys with her. This was the period of time right between the start of reading for fun and before moving onto super-hero themed comics. The times, like the stories in this collection, were about simpler things: carefree play, helping others solve problems, and laughing at a good pun or play on words. Sometimes in this hurry up crazy world of the 21st Century we lose sight of those things. It was nice to be able to sit back and remember those things again.
The beautiful thing about this collection is that the stories and characters are timeless. Small kids of today could enjoy these tales just kids of my generation did back in the day. I would highly recommend this book.

And, it appears that the publisher, Dark Horse Comics, plans to continue the line. Coming this Fall is volume 2 of the collection featuring Richie Rich, the Poor Little Rich Boy. I can't wait! Maybe if the line continues to sell we might see some of the other characters from the Harvey Comics line in books too: Little Audrey, Little Dot, Hot Stuff, Baby Huey, Sad Sack, etc. One can only hope.

If you're interested in buying the book, check your local book stores in the section they have graphic novels or humor books. Or, if you want, here is one online source:

Amazon listing for the book

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