Lava Creature

Space Ghost

Space Ghost is a character created by Hanna-Barbera Productions and designed by Alex Toth. He started out as a superhero who, with his helpers Jan, Jace and Blip, fought supervillains in outer space. In more recent years, he has been retooled as a fictional talk show host on Cartoon Network and revamped in a DC Comics mini-series.

Original shows

Space Ghost debuted in 1966 in Space Ghost and Dino Boy, where Space Ghost shared time with an unrelated segment called Dino Boy in the Lost Valley. Space Ghost was voiced by Gary Owens along with Tim Matheson as the voice of Jace and Ginny Tyler voicing Jan. Don Messick also added his voice talent to Blip. Tim Matheson had previously added his voice talent to that of the title character "Jonny" in Jonny Quest, another Hanna Barbara adventure cartoon. That Space Ghost show only lasted until 1968, but re-appeared in all-new segments on Space Stars in 1981. 22 episodes were produced and introduced a new assortment of villains including an evil version of Space Ghost called Space Spectre, who came from an alternate universe. The Phantom Cruiser was also given a sleeker and more modernized look. Similar to the original series, Space Ghost often came to the aid of the Herculoids and vice versa. They also frequently crossed paths with the Teen Force, and it appeared that Jan and Teen Force member Kid Comet were dating as well.

In the final six episodes of the original series, Space Ghost battled the "Council of Doom" (which consisted of Moltar, Zorak, Spider Woman (also named the Black Widow), Metallus, Brak, and Creature King), and Space Ghost and his sidekicks came across other Hanna-Barbera superheroes who would later have their own shows. Creature King sent a space ape to fight Space Ghost, and Jace used the phantom cruiser's energy force to get rid of it and put both of them in a time warp, sending them to a prehistoric world, where Mightor took care of the space ape, and Space Ghost went back using his power bands. Another time Zorak put Jan, Jayce, and Blip in a capsule and sent them hurtling through space to Earth where they landed in the ocean, and Moby Dick got them to the surface. Another time, Moltar sent Space Ghost and his Molten Men to the planet Quasar where the The Herculoids help Space Ghost out. And lastly, after escaping Brak and Spider Woman, the council uses their trump card, a negative transportation ray which sends him to some magical world where he is attacked by the Sultan of Flame and Shazzan saves him and has the power to send him back.

Comeback show

The character Space Ghost hosts a talk show, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, which began broadcasting in 1994 on Cartoon Network. One-time villains Zorak (a giant praying mantis / locust, depending on the particular show) and Moltar (a lava creature inside a metal suit) were Space Ghost's sidekicks (with guest appearances from many other old Space Ghost villains, most notably Brak). The show, as well as the short-lived Cartoon Planet, was a spoof of late-night shows such as the Late Show with David Letterman. Celebrities interviewed by Space Ghost included Beck, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Magicians Penn and Teller, Cassandra Peterson aka Elvira, Jim Carrey, Jon Benjamin, Michael Norman, and Mark Hamill. In this series he's played by George Lowe

The show relied heavily on absurd, surreal, or even dadaist humour. SGC2C continued to 2004 as the eldest program on Cartoon Network's late-night comedy/action programming block, Adult Swim. The characters of Jan, Jace, and Blip, Space Ghost's old sidekicks, appeared twice on the show. The first was a brief appearance in the episode "Jerk" where they are trying to call in to the show and Space Ghost hangs up on them. Jan, Jace, and Blip return to sue Space Ghost. They claim that Space Ghost exposed the teenagers to interstellar gases, laser rays, and unearthly atmospheres that stunted their growth. They sue for back wages and damages stemming from emotional distress, mental cruelty, and for preventing them from attending school. The charges are dropped after their lawyer Dr. Nightmare quits the case.

As the seasons progressed, Space Ghost's own personal life became a key plot line. Space Ghost's real name was revealed to be Tad Eustice Ghostal, and he was given an evil twin brother named Chad Ghostal, who is identical aside from his facial hair. Episodes began to center around his apartment and his idiotic dreams. He expressed feelings of both love and hate for Zorak and Moltar, his co-hosts, and slandered Harvey Birdman several times. He ruined his super-hero image by treating Zorak and Moltar as his slaves and by acting on decisions based on personal benefit (i.e. leaving in the middle of an interview to let his cable guy into his apartment) and flirting with female guests. He married Björk (something he truly regretted).

After approximately seven seasons, the show went into hiatus, and the writers Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro used characters they developed in an unaired episode ("Baffler Meal") to create the popular "would-be spin-off" Aqua Teen Hunger Force. After that show proved successful, Baffler Meal was animated and aired in 2003.

Coast to Coast in turn had its own spin-off starring Brak and Zorak, called The Brak Show. As with Coast to Coast, Space Ghost is again voiced by George Lowe, who additionally voiced the character of Dad.

Currently, new episodes of SGC2C appear on the "Animation" channel of the GameTap service. Guests seem to be either gaming celebrities or non-mainstream musicians.

Actors

Two actors played Space Ghost in the three Space Ghost series:

Gary Owens in Space Ghost and Dino Boy and Space Stars

George Lowe in Space Ghost Coast to Coast

Comic books

In 1967, Gold Key Comics published one issue of Space Ghost in his own comic. The character also appeared in the anthology title, Hanna-Barbera Super TV Heroes (1968-69), which featured other Saturday morning crimefighters such as the Herculoids, Birdman and the Galaxy Trio.

Marvel Comics' Hanna-Barbera TV Stars no. 3 (Dec. 1978 issue) was a superhero special that featured a Space Ghost story, "Pilgreen's Progress." Ironically, it was the only time Alex Toth ever drew the character for comics.

In 1987, Comico published an adaptation of Space Ghost by Mark Evanier and Steve Rude that was an homage to the spirit and look of the cartoon.

In 1997, Archie Comics published Cartoon Network Presents Space Ghost with art by Scott Rosema, that included a backup story teaming with Dino Boy.

In 2004, DC Comics (Hanna-Barbera's corporate sibling) published a Space Ghost mini-series, which featured a serious, sci-fi/space opera version of the character and showed his origins for the first time. The series was written by Joe Kelly and illustrated by Ariel Olivetti. Thaddeus Bach, a human interplanetary peacekeeper, is betrayed by corrupt fellow officers, who kill his pregnant wife and her unborn child, after which Bach himself is gutted and left for dead on a desolate planet. Bach is rescued by an alien who gives him both a reason to live and the technology contained in his suit and spaceship. His two teenage sidekicks, Jan and Jace (spelled "Jayce" here), are revealed to be orphans of Zorak's assault on their home world, whom Bach adopts as his wards. (Blip is not seen in the mini-series.) It is they who christen him "Space Ghost," after a make-believe character their parents made up to frighten them out of bad behavior. He adopts the identity to avenge his family and bring the corrupt officers who killed them to justice.

The comic contains a series of nods to "Coast to Coast", amongst them Space Ghost's identity (outside the comic, the name "Thaddeus" is commonly shortened to "Thad," which is similar to "Tad", a name casually thrown around as the "Coast to Coast" Space Ghost's real first name) and his wife bears a strong resemblance to, and has the nonsensical Engrish mannerisms of, Björk, who once gave a memorable interview with Space Ghost, including a discussion of how they might live as a married couple. Thad's trademark immature, oafish behavior is also present in elements of the storyline as he loses his temper quickly with the Ghost Planet alien and with Jan and Jayce.

The mini-series has been collected into a trade paperback, ISBN 1401207219. The last issue of the mini-series said another was going to follow, but this never happened.

Action figures

Space Ghost's Coast to Coast version was released as an action figure by Toycom, complete with a desk and chair, a series of cue cards, and a mug. Also included were several different sets of hands, allowing the figure to be used either as the talk show host or the super hero or both. The shoulders and neck were ball-jointed, with a light plastic yellow cape.

Other media

George Lowe voiced Space Ghost in the Robot Chicken episode "Suck It." He was seen as a member of the Adult Swim Council alongside Peter Griffin and Master Shake. He was also seen on an episode of "Perfect Hair Forever" being attacked by a bear. Lowe voiced Space Ghost in two episodes of The Brak Show also doing Dad's voice. Space Ghost and Zorak get cameos in Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters. Space Ghost is killed by a missile.

"Space Ghost" in other languages

  • Russian: Космический дух (Kosmicheskij Duh)
  • French: "Le Fantôme de l'Espace"
  • Japanese: 宇宙怪人ゴースト (Uchū Kaijin Gōsuto)
  • Spanish: El Fantasma del Espacio
  • Romanian: Fantoma Spaṭialã
  • Polish: Kosmiczny Duch
  • Korean: 스페이스 고스트

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