The three fail to impress a client.


Original Medium: Comic books
Published by: Harvey Comics
First Appeared: 1955
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When Casper the Friendly Ghost became a Harvey Comics character, steps were taken right away to place him in a family context, with supporting characters to provide springboards for more types of story than …

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… he'd had back in the formula-ridden Famous Studios cartoons where he got his start. The very first Casper story at Harvey, which appeared in Harvey Comics Hits #61 (October, 1952), showed him at home with his mom, a perfectly ordinary little family except that they're ghosts.

But the publisher didn't develop that family, giving a name and personal characteristics to Mom, or even following up by making her part of the series on a continuing basis. It was similarly careless about Casper's uncles, of whom there were usually two but sometimes three or even four. None of them had names.

But by Casper the Friendly Ghost #35 (August, 1955), things were settling down to a fairly reliable three. In that story, a fourth was glimpsed, but that was probably an error, along the lines of Phooey, the phantom fourth Nephew of Donald Duck. Still, none of them stood out as an individual. But they'd certainly been established in comic books by the time ghosts resembling them first appeared in animated form, in Fright from Wrong, released November 2, 1956.

Gradually, they began to become distinguishable from one another. They were even given names, based on their personal characteristics — Fatso (the chubby one), Fusso (the fastidious one) and Lazo (the one who'd rather take it easy). The "uncle" aspect of their relationship was de-emphasized. They could be nasty, bossy big brothers; nasty, bossy surrogate parents of one sort or another; or just nasty, bossy roommates. By the 1960s or so, they were about as fully-developed as they'd ever get. They began turning up (in person, not just as ghosts who look like them) in animation, as Harvey brought Casper and his supporting characters back to that medium.

It wasn't much later that they got their own comic, at least briefly (tho they'd had occasional adventures of their own in Casper's, Spooky's or even Wendy's titles). Casper & The Ghostly Trio was published for seven bimonthly issues, starting with a November, 1972 cover date. After a publishing hiatus in the '80s, they resumed the title for three more issues in 1990.

It was during that publishing hiatus, in 1985, that The Ghostly Trio made their biggest impact on the culture at large, beyond the readership of Harvey Comics. That's when Harvey sued Columbia Pictures (Blondie, Brenda Starr), claiming the ghost in the logo for their Ghostbusters (which became the cartoon Real Ghostbusters) looked a little too much like Fatso to be permissible under intellectual property laws. However, the court eventually ruled that no infringement had taken place.

In Casper's 1995 feature film, the three were called Fatso, Stretch and Stinky. The films are inconsistent as to whether they're Casper's uncles, or just unpleasant acquaintances.


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Text ©2010 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Harvey Entertainment.