Homer acting like Casper, from his first issue. Artist: Dan DeCarlo.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1955
Creators: Stan Lee (writer) and Dan DeCarlo (artist)
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Famous Studios' Casper the Friendly Ghost was a unique property in animation. But he wasn't so unique in comic books. In the mid-1950s, with Harvey Comics making a go of its licensed version of Casper, imitators, such as Charlton's Timmy the Timid Ghost and …

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… Ajax's Spunky the Smiling Spook, began to crop up. Marvel Comics, using its Atlas imprint at the time, responded with Homer the Happy Ghost, whose first issue was dated March, 1955.

That first issue, like the subsequent ones, was written by Stan Lee (the legendary co-creator of The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and most of the other heavy hitters in the Marvel Universe) and drawn by Dan DeCarlo (who later, at Archie Comics, created the lucrative Josie property, not to mention the house style the company has used for the past several decades). It opened with Homer and his family (yes, he had a Momma and a Poppa ghost, as well as a ghost dog named Snappy) moving into a new haunted house.

Over the next few pages, he met his new neighbors, including Melvin the Mixed-Up Ghost (a typical comic book dimwit) and Invisible Irwin. Dugan the Dead End Ghost was a lot like Casper's supporting character Spooky, but Zelda the Zany Witch wasn't at all like Casper's Wendy, and Gobby Goblin was even less like Hot Stuff the Little Devil. (A later DeCarlo series, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, also featured a witch named Zelda.) Five years later, Lee and DeCarlo collaborated again, on a newspaper comic about a mailman, Willie Lumpkin.

Homer haunted the comic book racks for 22 issues, ending with a November, 1958 cover date. He also had a spin-off title, The Adventures of Homer Ghost, but it ran only two issues, June and August 1957; and Dan DeCarlo didn't draw them.

Homer was revived in reprint form in November, 1969; and the revival lasted five issues, until May, 1970. He never appeared anywhere else — not in another Marvel comic, not in Big Little Books, not even on T-shirts and coffee mugs.

But as things go with defunct Marvel characters, you never know when one of the superheroes might turn up in his neighborhood.


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Text ©2004-11 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.