Space Ghost. Sketch by Alex Toth.


Medium: TV animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1966
Creator: Alex Toth
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Space Ghost was one of Saturday morning's first superheroes, premiering on CBS Sept. 10, 1966. Dino Boy, a …

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… "lost world" style feature that shared the half-hour with him, was soon forgotten, but Space Ghost endured and is still popular today.

In large part, this is due to the artistic input of comic book veteran Alex Toth, whose credits range from The Atom to Zorro, and who, on staff with Hanna-Barbera as a designer and idea man, is generally credited with having created Space Ghost. Voice actor Gary Owens (who also narrated The Perils of Penelope Pitstop) contributed much of the character's heroic bearing, but it was Toth (who got his start in animation with a minor studio's Space Angel) that set the tone for the series.

Space Ghost is an interstellar cop, with a home base on the Ghost Planet. He is equipped with an inviso-button on his belt, which renders him invisible while also protecting him from harm with an invisible energy field. The power bands on his wrists are capable of emitting a variety of rays, which can freeze, fry, shock, or just plain blast the bad guys. He can both fly and (by dint of stupendous effort) teleport, but his usual method of getting around is in his space ship, The Phantom Cruiser. His companions in adventure include Jan and Jayce (teenage siblings), and Blip the Monkey.

Like his comic book compadres, Space Ghost sometimes shares adventures with his fellow superheroes. Among those he's encountered are The Herculoids, Shazzan, and The Mighty Mightor. Another way he resembles the superheroes of comics is in having a cast of recurring villains, including Zorak (an insectoid alien), Brak (a cat-oid alien), Metallus (a robot), and Spider-Woman (no relation).

In his original incarnation, Space Ghost appeared in 21 shows (with two Space Ghost episodes per show), spread out over two TV seasons. Over the ensuing years, the Space Ghost episodes were re-packaged with other characters (not including Dino Boy, who had dropped out after the first season) and broadcast again, several times. In 1981, a series combining those episodes with 22 new ones was broadcast under the title Space Stars.

Space Ghost's comic book career has been spotty. After a oneshot appearance in his own title, in 1967, from Gold Key, with art by Dan Spiegle (Blackhawk, Space Family Robinson), he appeared in a few issues of Gold Key's Hanna-Barbera Super TV Heroes (1968-69). And that was it until 1987, when writer Mark Evanier, who has credits all over the comics and animation industries, and artist Steve Rude, best known for his work on Nexus, teamed up for another oneshot, published by Comico. Since then, Space Ghost has been in a promotional comic here and there, a single 1997 issue of Archie's Cartoon Network Presents, and that's it.

Today, Space Ghost has suffered perhaps the ultimate humiliation any superhero can endure. He has become a talk show host. He and a few of his old villains can be seen on Space Ghost Coast to Coast, broadcast regularly on Cartoon Network, chatting with newsmakers, celebrities, and other fascinating beings.


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Text ©2000-06 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Hanna-Barbera.