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Cult Cartoon Essentials: Space Ghost

Space Ghost is a fictional character created by Hanna-Barbera Productions and designed by Alex Toth for CBS in the 1960s.[1] In his original incarnation, he was a superhero who, with his sidekick teen helpers Jan, Jace, and Blip the monkey, fought supervillains in outer space.

In the 1990s, the character was brought back as a host for his own fictional late-night talk show, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, on Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. In the 2000s, he was revamped as a serious superhero once again in a mini-series by DC Comics.

The original series debuted in 1966, in which the “Space Ghost” segments shared time with an unrelated segment called Dino Boy in the Lost Valley. Space Ghost was voiced by Gary Owens, Tim Matheson voiced Jace (Matheson was the voice of “Jonny” in Jonny Quest, another Hanna-Barbera adventure cartoon series) and Ginny Tyler voiced Jan. Don Messick provided vocalizations for Blip. Space Ghost and his helpers fought such recurring supervillains as Moltar (voiced by Don Messick), Zorak (voiced by Don Messick), Black Widow (voiced by Ginny Tyler; the character was named the Spider Woman in seven episodes), Metallus (voiced by Ted Cassidy), Brak (voiced by Keye Luke), and Creature King (voiced by Vic Perrin). The original series comprised 42 Space Ghost and 18 Dino Boy episodes, and ended in 1968.

Twenty-two new Space Ghost segments appeared on Space Stars in 1981. The episodes introduced a new assortment of villains including an evil version of Space Ghost named Space Spectre (voiced by John Stephenson) who came from an alternate universe. His spaceship, the Phantom Cruiser, was also given a sleeker and more modernized look. As in 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. Gary Owens reprised his role as Space Ghost, but Tim Matheson was replaced by Steve J. Spears as the voice of Jace, Ginny Tyler was replaced by Alexandra Stewart as the voice of Jan, and Don Messick was replaced by Frank Welker as the vocal effects for Blip.

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 or Locust, depending on the particular episode) 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, Joel Hodgson, Carrot Top, Jim Carrey, Jon Benjamin, Conan O’Brien, Thurston Moore, Pavement, Adam West, Björk, Thom Yorke, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Goldie Hawn, Timothy Leary, and Mark Hamill. In this series, he is played by George Lowe.

The show relied heavily on absurd, surreal, or even dadaist humour. Space Ghost Coast to Coast continued to 2004 as the oldest 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. After approximately eight 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 another popular “would-be spin-off” Aqua Teen Hunger Force. After that show proved successful, Baffler Meal was animated and aired in 2003.

New episodes of Space Ghost Coast to Coast appeared on the “Animation” channel of the GameTap service, beginning on May 30, 2006. Most guests were either gaming celebrities or musicians. On May 31, 2008, the show ended when the TV section of GameTap shut down.

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Founded Cult Faction in 2014; previously crawled out of the Black Lodge in 1976, only to find himself in the Village.

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