Spencer bones up on haunting techniques.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: American Comics Group (ACG)
First Appeared: 1945
Creators: Hubie Karp (writer) and Ken Champin (artist)
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Spencer Spook is best known from 1950s comic books, making him a near-contemporary of Marvel Comics' Homer the Happy Ghost, Ajax's Spunky the Smiling Spook, Charlton's Timmy the Timid Ghost and other imitations of Casper the Friendly Ghost. He wasn't one of them because Spencer goes back to the August, 1945 issue of Giggle Comics — months before Famous Studios

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… released The Friendly Ghost, where Casper debuted. Still, it's natural to assume that at least, Casper's popularity contributed to Spencer's longevity.

At the time, Giggle Comics was published by Creston. In 1949, the company became known as The American Comics Group. Spencer was first seen in the 21st issue, in the back pages but not on the cover. In fact, Giggle had no regular cover feature until the following year, when Super Katt assumed that position. Spencer's first story was written by Hubie Karp, who also wrote many Pluto stories for comics. The artist was Ken Champin, a moonlighting animator with credits at Warner Bros. In fact, the Jim Davis studio, which packaged Giggle Comics for the publisher (as well as The Fox & the Crow for DC Comics) consisted almost entirely of moonlighting animators.

Spencer was mostly a house-haunting spook, but not the traditional kind, who hangs around a location that was important to him in life. No, Spencer did it as a job, taking house-haunting assignments and endeavoring to do a good job of scaring the residents out of their wits. He generally took orders from the head of the household, but sometimes depended on the Boss Ghost, who may or may not have been George Washington in life, to find work for him.

Spencer was a regular in Giggle Comics for almost a decade, sharing it with such series as Corky, Myrt the Turtle and The Duke & the Dope. Super Katt held the cover and lead position most of that time, until the title returned to non-regular cover features years later. Toward the end, Spencer himself appeared on the cover a couple of times. As the '50s wore on, it became common for anthology titles to be renamed after their stars, as when Animal Antics became Raccoon Kids, and Blazing West became The Hooded Horseman. After its 99th issue (February, 1955), Giggle Comics became Spencer Spook. But that was the end — ACG dropped both of its funny animal titles. The 101st issue was the last.

But three decades later, Spencer got a new lease on life. Entrepreneur Ron Frantz bought rights to Spencer along with other characters from defunct publishers, such as Skyman and The Face. He launched his own publishing venture, Ace Comics, in the mid-1980s. Ace published six issues of The Adventures of Spencer Spook between 1986 and '88. But bad debts from distributor bankruptcies forced Ace to cease publishing, and Spencer was left even deader than before.


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Text ©2008 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Roger Broughton.