Paranormal Pop Culture: Casper the Friendly Ghost

The computer generated Casper from his 1995 film appearance.

The computer generated Casper from his 1995 film appearance.

Casper the Friendly Ghost was originally created in the late 1930s by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo, a writer and illustrator who teamed up to create what they originally envisioned as a children's book.  However, there was little initial interest in the book, and Oriolo later sold the rights to Paramount Pictures' Famous Studios animation division while Reit was performing military service during World War II.  Paramount created a series of popular cartoons featuring Casper, which led to his first comics appearance in 1949.  Since then, the friendly ghost has appeared in numerous cartoons, comics, and feature films.

A still from a mid-century Casper cartoon in which the young ghost befriends a fox who later dies, but returns to continue his adventures with Casper as a ghost.

A still from a mid-century Casper cartoon in which the young ghost befriends a fox who later dies, but returns to continue his adventures with Casper as a ghost.

Casper is unique among his ghostly relatives and acquaintances in that he has no interest in scaring the living.  And although the idea that he was a real boy who died and became a ghost was briefly abandoned in the 1960s and '70s, the 1995 motion picture Casper revived the concept that he was the spirit of a deceased child--having died of pneumonia in the film after a day of sledding.   The story of Casper has been noted for its remarkably dark premise for a children's character, although the cosmology of the fictional universe is never fully explained, nor is a complete description of the afterlife ever presented.  Casper's world, much as our own, appears to be populated by spirits with no definitive explanation for their existence.

Tobias WaylandComment