Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Single Issue Review: Tuff Ghosts #34

I haven't given enough attention to Harvey Comics so far, so I thought I might try a couple posts on their features. Harvey's product was aimed at a slightly younger demographic than the superhero books of the Silver Age. Tuff Ghosts appears to be something of a tweener book--for kids who may have outgrown the often saccharine Casper the Friendly Ghost and are looking for a ghost with a little more edge to him.

Spooky, shown above, was easily distinguished from Casper, due to the hat, his freckles and his much more aggressive demeanor. The opening story is a pretty simple one-pager. Spooky spots a skunk who seems already frightened. He's being chased by a fox. Spooky scares the fox away and the skunk and all his family thank him, but they're stinking up the joint, so he boos them away.

The next story is the main story in the comic and it is here that we realize that it is indeed January 1968, as the title is "The Case of the Top Secret Spy". Spooky is forced by a spy to steal secret blueprints, because the spy has a special ray that makes the ghost obey his commands. But while photographing the plans, the spy is careless and Spooky seizes the ray and takes over. It's probably an entertaining story for little kids and well-timed to take advantage of the spy craze of the 1960s. The story has a very oddball ending:

As nice as peace on earth sounds, I'm just a little uncomfortable with the concept of peaceful rays.

There are two oddball stories that deal with what were called bums then and would today be called homeless. In the first story, a king of the road approaches Casper's house. Casper is glad the Ghostly Trio aren't there to frighten the man, but of course Casper himself is enough to scare the wits out of him. There is a happy ending:

In the other, the Ghostly Trio (the Three Stooges of the ethereal set) encounter a hobo skunk who has taken up residence in the house they are haunting, and so they have to try to drive him out. This story resolves itself exactly like the first one, with the ghosts enduring the odor of a whole bunch of skunks. Seems a bit odd that they would throw two such similar stories in the same issue, and why would ghosts have a sense of smell, anyway?

The final story features Nightmare, the Galloping Ghost, who enters a cave and finds a land of shadows. Two of the shadows attach themselves to her, but they bicker so much that she eventually tires of them and boos them away.

Comments: Not much there for an adult to grab hold of aside from the spies cultural marker. I don't think I'll be reading a lot of Tuff Ghosts or Spooky again. Not terrible by any means (and the art isn't half bad), but clearly strictly for the kiddies.