7. Grasper the Hungry Ghost

Pause & Reflect Comics is a hodge-podge of comics, including bits of comic fragments from other universes, poems, extraterrestrials, cyberdogs, artificial intelligences, mythological beings, hallucinations, and silliness — all flavored with a dash of BuddhaDharma.
Last time, Edzl got thrown out a spaceship airlock into the starry void. Instead of dying he had an ephiphany and captured the space pirates to boot! We’ll return to Edzl in future episodes of Pause & Reflect Comics. See #6, “SPACED

In the meantime, here’s a special feature:

I published the “Grasper the Hungry Ghost” story on this blog before – ‘way back when Pause & Reflect Comics was mostly just a gleam in my eye. In fact, it was on Halloween of 2018, posting number 35 in the old system (pre-Pause & Relfect).

For me it’s useful to compare the old posting style with the new. The old one was just a matter reproducing each whole page at a time, in the conventional comics format. I had to modify the pictures a bit here for the new format and there, but essentially, they’re the same. I do think the new slide-show format provides more clarity and detail.

Speaking of clarity and detail, I’ve redesigned P&R post. no. 5, “Klargog Space Pirates,” so give it a look. Comments on any of this stuff are welcome.

The old no. 35 also has some interesting text accompanying Grasper, if I do say so myself. Many Buddhist traditions have a cosmology that includes heaven and Deva realms, hell realms, and one of the hell realms is the one of the “hungry ghosts.” These are the reborn beings who were particularly greedy in a former life and now are doomed to exist in forms that torment them; they have pinhole mouths, for example, that can’t consume the food they so desperately crave.

I’m naturally skeptical about these realms and even the ideal of rebirth. The Buddha made it clear that his followers should not believe anything just because he taught it. My take on Buddhism is that no belief is required; no dogma to swallow. Buddha expected his followers to depend on their own judgement and experience. The best I can do is to admit that I don’t know. Pending further experiential data that’s where I am. I have to admit, however, after reading some contemporary cosmology by respected scientists, that some of the stuff they speculate on is every bit, if not even more fantastic!

But I still like to play around with the realms and once I got the idea of “Grasper the Hungry Ghost” I couldn’t let it go. The reference is to the old animated cartoons and comic books that featured “Casper the Friendly Ghost.”

According to Wikipedia, Casper was invented in the 1930’s by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo as a concept for a kid’s book, but there wasn’t much interest and the rights to the character were sold to Paramount Studios. The Friendly Ghost was the first Casper cartoon and came out in 1945. Harvey Comics bought the rights and started publishing Casper comics in 1952. The stories in both cartoons and comics mostly followed the same plot. Casper, unlike the all the other ghosts, wants to make friends, not scare people. His friendly overtures are failures, eliciting horror and flight. Then he saves a person or animal by scaring off some bad guys, and we have a happy ending. My plot is a bit different. Since Grasper’s dilemma is based on his karma, he has to work it out, but Ajahn “Mettawendi” (reference to Casper’s pal, “Wendy the Good Witch”) provides some aid with a mini dharma-talk.

Warren Kremer was the artist credited for most of Harvey Comics’ best works, including Casper. He was skilled in a variety of drawing styles and did consistent, quality work. I’ve tried to suggest a similar style in Grasper. Tom Montgomery has collected some of his work on a Pinterest site. I hadn’t seen Casper in decades. I relied, as I often do, on the Free Library of Philadelphia’s collection and was able to borrow some compilations of Casper’s comics.

Casper was a popular character in his heyday and Paramount was flustered by all the mail they got asking how Casper died. They didn’t want to go there – Casper was to be considered an imaginary creature like unicorns and leprachauns. C’mon, guys! Casper was a ghost, right?

Hope you enjoyed Grasper. Since I’ve opened up the Buddhist “realm” mythology, next time I’m going to provide a small glimpse into other realms of Buddhist mythology.

NEXT: “Demons and Devas”


Asteroid Stu and the Mind-Duel is a 54-page, black and white comic available in print or Kindle versions at Amazon.com.

Join Asteroid Stu, the Asteroid Zone’s premier private eye as he matches wits with the sinister Captain Krool. Aided by his trusty sidekick, the cybernetically enhanced mutant dachsund, Norbert the Wiener, and accompanied by Edzl the Nebboid, and Quakor, the space-duck and agent of the Galactic Bureau of Investigation, Stu uncovers a dark secret that threatens to destroy the entire solar system! This is a “prequel” to Multiverse Comics and Stories.

Mutiverse Comics and Stories is a 106-page, full-color comic also available from Amazon.com.

Multiverse Comics & Stories is an homage to the best in kids’ comics of the 40’s and 50’s with a vocabulary and sense of humor that’s perhaps a little more sophisticated. The 3 main stories are: “The Case of the Renegade Refrigerator,” featuring Virtual Man and Zeldoid the Cyberdog; “Invasion of the Bozobots,” describing a parallel-earth overrun with bizarre humanoid robots; and “Conversation with a Chimera,” from the case files of Asteroid Stu, the Asteroid Zone’s stellar (and probably only) private eye. This is a zany science-fiction fantasy romp which eschews the usual superhero power plays and violence even as our heroes thwart 2 alien invasions. A wild assortment of supporting characters include Mojo Cat; Norbert the Weiner, another Cyberdog; Eyesaur the Dinosaur; the Discombobulator; Rocket-Powered Robot Buzz-Saws; Edzl the Nebboid; the xenophobic Rhombulans; Big Boye, godlike being from another universe; Frank Serious, WSIT News Anchor; Astral Aura, Sorceress Supreme; Dr. Dudley Wiser, resident eccentric genius; SuperFrog, amphibian from another Galaxy; Quakor, agent with the Galactic Bureau of Investigation; Betsy-the-Brain-Who-Wouldn’t-Die; Iris, managing artificial intelligence of the Simulated Ivory Tower; and SORT, the Semi-Omnipotent Repair Technician. Winged bunnies and flying bananas also have cameo appearances. There is even a brief nod to a certain inexplicable POTUS. Enjoy!

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