With the sixtieth anniversary of his creation looming, Harvey Comics favorite Casper (the Friendly Ghost) is seeing the release of his first comic book series in more than a decade. Ardden Entertainment, who published a 75th Anniversary hardcover book for Flash Gordon last year, acquired the publishing rights to create the six-issue miniseries Casper & The Spectrals, featuring the return to comics of not only Casper, but Wendy the Good Witch and Hot Stuff as well. Edited by star Spider-Man writer J.M. DeMatteis (co-creator of this year’s smartest superhero comic, IDW’s The Life and Times of Savior 28) and written by Todd Dezago (of Tellos and The Perhapanauts fame), the series will reintroduce the characters to a new generation of readers, updating the art style with sleek pencils by Pedro Delgado and computer coloring the likes of which these characters have never seen. Blog@Newsarama tracked down Dezago to talk about the project.
Blog@Newsarama: How did you come to be involved with the Casper & the Spectrals project at Ardden?
TD: Really it all began two years ago at the New York Comic Con where I ran into my old Spider-Man compatriot, J.M. DeMatteis, and we talked about how much fun it would be to work on something together again. We stayed in touch, looking for something fun, when, one day last spring he e-mailed to say he had a fantastic project that he was editing at Ardden, and would I be interested. I said, “hell, yes!”…and then asked what it was….
When he told me it was Casper, I knew we were going to have a good time!
BLOG@: Was it pitched to you as a package–”you need to include characters X, Y and Z”–or did you pitch that to the publisher?
TD: J.M. and Editor Brenden Deneen had already mapped out the basics of the series/story so that they could pitch it to Classic, the company that holds the license to Casper and the rest of the Harvey gang. So we knew the framework, but there was plenty of room for me to play.
BLOG@: And is this a mini-, maxi- or ongoing series?
TD: This first is a three-issue mini that kinda starts with a clean slate–Casper, Wendy, and Hot Stuff don’t know each other yet–but stays fairly true to the Casper history while, at the same time, boots the entire mythos into the 21 Century. It’s a Casper for today.
BLOG@: What’s the premise of this series? Is it going to hew to any previous stories or just kind of pick up?
TD: It’s a complete story–more like a graphic novel–rather than several shorts stories or one-pagers. Should we get a chance to do more, I’d like to incorporate some of those into the book, but for now we’ve got an epic tale to tell and need all the room we can get!
BLOG@: The last Harvey Comics series that I can remember was in the mid-’90s. That means that, of the sixty years we’re celebrating, about a quarter of that time has been without a Casper comic book. What are you guys going to bring to the table to ensure the longevity of this character this time around?
TD: Well, we’ve updated the look of the book and the characters. And the great thing about Casper and the gang is that they are such GREAT characters–Wendy and Hot Stuff and Casper (and Spooky and…) are all so very distinct and recognizable! Throwing them and their very different personalities into a story/situation and seeing how they react–that’s the fun of it! It’s all very character-driven!
BLOG@: Your recent Facebook status has questioned what Casper died of–he’s a little boy, for Pete’s sake!–any chance of us getting that story?
TD: Ha! I was going for the joke, but had learned a while ago that Harvey had addressed that (rather morbid) fact decades ago. Casper isn’t a ghost in the sense that we know ghosts. He is not a previously alive human. Ghosts–in this reality–is just another race of fantastical beings, like fairies and elves and gnomes. Casper has a Mom and a Dad. He was born a ghost. Sadly, humans are still very much afraid of them. Silly humans.
BLOG@: How about a cameo by every Dezago fan’s favorite ghost–Molly, from The Perhapanauts?
TD: Wow–a Casper/Perhapanauts crossover would be awesome–we could have such fun with that! I would imagine that this book would have to sell pretty well for that to happen though, so everybody get out there and buy a lot so we can make a Casper/Molly, Hot Stuff/Choopie team-up a reality!
BLOG@: Yes, that was just a cheap way to get the ‘Haps mentioned in this story so that that people who search for Casper on Google are put onto a good thing.
TD: Thanks, Dude–can I send the money PayPal?