Space Ghost: A Strange History Indeed

by Take Root

hqdefault-300x225 Space Ghost: A Strange History Indeed

You may know Space Ghost from a cartoon series, you may know him as a late-night talk show host, or you might not know him at all. Let’s look at the man in the white suit and check out some key issues.

Space Ghost is one of those characters that feels familiar. You might have watched him as a kid or as an adult or seen his face here and there, but where are all of his comics? Isn’t he a superhero?

Space Ghost Origins (Kind of)

Space Ghost starred in a Hannah Barbara cartoon series that ran from 1966 to 1968. 

It was double-billed as Space Ghost and Dino Boy though the two characters never had an interaction. The Man in White had two human sidekicks, Jace and Jan, and one chimpanzee, Blip, as he ventured from his Ghost Planet to fight evil and protect the inhabitants of space. Space Ghost’s first run only lasted two years but racked up a total of 42 episodes. And then came a brief 13-year hiatus.

In 1981 he was back in action starring in one of the segments of Space Stars on NBC. With the first episode titled, “Attack of the Space Sharks,” it couldn’t help but be a hit. The revamped segments aired twenty-two new episodes and introduced the Space Spectre, an inverted arch enemy, before our superhero headed back to retirement.

c2c Space Ghost: A Strange History IndeedSpace Ghost Coast to Coast

Until he came back. In Cartoon Network’s first animated series, The Man in White hosted a talk show with Earth celebrities from afar. With the help of his captured criminal producers, Moltar and Zorak, the show became the defining aesthetic for what would become Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. Compared to his earlier appearances on television, the show was a resounding success spanning five years with over eighty episodes. Coast to Coast molded the non-sequitur type humor that would become part of the Cartoon Network brand and would influence the comedian Eric Andre when writing The Eric Andre Show. The third time seemed to be the charm as it solidified Space Ghost as a TV legend in what maybe one person has said is “the greatest talk show of all time.”

OG-210x300 Space Ghost: A Strange History Indeed Comic Presence (Or lack thereof)

There’s no denying that he has a knack for comedy, but for a superhero, he’s definitely lacking in comic book appearances. Gold Key’s Space Ghost #1 from 1966 is by far his most valued appearance. It’s the first and only comic in the single-issue series. (Is it a series if it’s the only issue?) The last sale of a 9.6 sold this April for $2700! There’s only one 9.8 graded and it hasn’t sold yet. Three grand is a heavy price tag for our comic-shy caped crusader.

His later appearances would come out in 1968 under Hannah-Barbera Super TV Heroes. He appears three times in the anthology series in issue #3, #6, and #7. The books haven’t changed hands enough to warrant a FMV, but these are his 2nd, 3rd, and 4th appearances. (Thanks Gary!)

comico-192x300 Space Ghost: A Strange History Indeed

A little over ten years later Space Ghost would debut in his first and only Marvel Comics appearance in TV Stars #3. There are only nine of these graded so a Fair Market Value is impossible to determine. Nobody seems to know, and maybe even less care.

Twenty years after his first appearance on the small screen, he returned to the newsstand in Comico’s Space Ghost #1. The FMV on a 9.8 copy will set you back $60. This is also only a single issue series and up until the 90s, Space Ghost appeared in only a handful of comics. A surprising fact for a superhero that had been on TV for over 30 years.

c2c-214x300 Space Ghost: A Strange History IndeedA Renaissance (and a Sleeper Key)

With the appearance of a hit late-night show, the Ghost was back. This prompted a Space Ghost Coast to Coast #1 published by Cartoon Network. There are only four of these in the CGC Registry, three of them being 9.6 (FMV $130). There may not even be a 9.8 in existence (as far as we know). This is what I’d like to call a Sleeper Key because it marks the actual value of the character. Sure, the first appearance in 1966 will always be worth more, but it’s his resurgence in Coast to Coast that we see SG at his best. Not to mention it’s from an offbeat comic publisher with almost nobody looking for it.

new-196x300 Space Ghost: A Strange History IndeedAn Actual Space Ghost Origin Story

Shockingly, he didn’t have a proper origin story until 2005 in the Space Ghost miniseries that went on for an almost infinite run of six issues. Joe Kelly wrote, Ariel Olivetti took care of the art, and Alex Ross painted stunning covers for this dark and gritty telling of our favorite superhero TV star. There’s no FMV for Space Ghost #1 because there haven’t been enough registered sales. While I don’t think this book will do crazy numbers in the future, it is the first origin story of the title character, albeit 40 years after he was created.

A Colorful Career

Is this the end of Space Ghost? Will we see him return to the small screen?

He is definitely not your average superhero. While he might be more of a television star than a superhero (did I mention he’s an accomplished musician as well?), that doesn’t mean his comics aren’t worth collecting. These are the main issues to have if you’re a Space Ghost fan. And if you’re not, then go watch a couple reruns of Space Ghost Coast to Coast on Youtube or stream it on the Adult Swim app and see what you’ve been missing!

From the Ghost Planet,

spaceghost_0 Space Ghost: A Strange History Indeed

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4 comments

Gary H June 6, 2020 - 9:30 am

Great article. No mention of his 2nd appearance in Super TV Heroes #3 (1968)?

Reply
J June 6, 2020 - 12:56 pm

Hey Gary, thanks for catching that! The post has been updated with your knowledge. (I knew I was going to miss something regarding Space Ghost, his appearances are all over the place)

Reply
Johnathan Warlick June 6, 2020 - 6:26 pm

Why no mention of cartoon planet? Other than that a good solid look at space ghost

Reply
J June 6, 2020 - 7:43 pm

At its birth, Coast to Coast was a monumental statement for Cartoon Network. C2C forever changed the limits of animation and deserves a spot above Cartoon Planet and The Brak Show because of that fundamental change. The spinoffs were funny, but they were still spinoffs, if not derivative. Thanks for the comment!

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