9 Celebrities Who Have Written Comic Books

Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images
Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images

A career onscreen or in music doesn't necessarily translate to talent with a pen, but the comic book industry is a great place for celebrities to indulge their creative ideas or cut their teeth as writers. Here are just a few of the names that have graced comic covers to the surprise of everyone.

1. MARK HAMILL

Mark Hamill attends the premiere of Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' at the El Capitan Theatre on May 10, 2018 in Los Angeles, California
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

If you don't know Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, you know him as the voice of the Joker from the DC Animated Universe. And if you don't know him from that, then you know him as the proprietor of one of the greatest Twitter feeds known to man. But if you don't know him from any of those place, you probably remember him as the guy who wrote The Black Pearl for Dark Horse.

2. RASHIDA JONES

Rashida Jones is a student of the Carrie Fisher school of being beloved onscreen, but doing far more behind the scenes than anyone realizes. The former Parks and Recreation star is a prolific screenwriter and editor who made her comic book debut with Frenemy of the State under the independent Oni Press label.

The story, which follows a CIA agent who uses the guise of a tabloid celebrity to complete her missions, was optioned for a movie deal by Universal in 2009. While Jones is on board to write the script, there's been no real development news on the project in the last decade.

3. AND 4. BILL HADER AND SETH MEYERS

Executive producer/actors Bill Hader and Seth Meyers speak onstage during the 'Documentary Now!' panel discussion at the AMC/IFC Networks portion of the 2015 Summer TCA Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

This Saturday Night Live dream team may have parted ways on television back in 2013, but they're remained good friends and regular collaborators. In 2009, the pair teamed up to make a Marvel one-shot, Spider-Man: The Short Halloween.

A riff on Batman: The Long Halloween, the story they wrote involved Spider-man being knocked out of commission in a Greenwich Village costume parade, leaving a drunk reveler in a Spider-man costume to take his place.

5. WILLIAM SHATNER

Even since Star Trek star ​William Shatner wrote the TekWar novels, he has made it a hobby to personally expand the franchise and universe through more books, television movies, a trading card game, and, yes, a comic book tie-in series that Shatner himself penned. It's about as crazy as a comic written by William Shatner sounds.

6. JOHN CLEESE

John Cleese attends the 55th Rose d'Or Award at Axica-Kongress- und Tagungszentrum on September 13, 2016 in Berlin, Germany
Clemens Bilan, Getty Images

If there's one thing that Brits do better than any other culture, it's cultural self-deprecation. The entire style of British comedy is based squarely on disillusionment with their own environment and an inability to take any of it all too seriously—an attitude that was clearly evident in the rambunctious lads from Monty Python.

John Cleese, a core member of the group, brought this style and sense of humor to Superman: True Brit, a comic that pondered what Superman might be like if his rocket had landed in the British countryside instead of rural Kansas. The result: Superman rarely uses his powers because "What would the neighbors think?"

7. KEVIN SMITH

Clerks creator Kevin ​Smith has never made a secret of his love of the comic world, which is part of what has helped him become a geek culture icon. Using both his celebrity status and legitimate writing talents, Smith has had a prolific career in comics both as a regular and guest writer.

The Fatman on Batman host's biggest accolades include Batman: The Widening Gyre, Batman '66 Meets the Green Hornet, and a slew of titles tying into his View Askewniverse including the fabled Bluntman and Chronic series.

8. GERARD WAY

Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance performs at Roseland Ballroom on December 3, 2010 in New York City
Cory Schwartz, Getty Images

Gerard Way, former lead singer for My Chemical Romance, has had his hands in the comic book industry since 1993, when he was credited with the creation and writing of the short-lived On Raven's Wings. He wouldn't try his hand at the medium again until 2007, when he released the critically-acclaimed The Umbrella Academy series.

After his big break in the industry wheelhouse, Way has been courted by DC and Vertigo and, in 2014, began writing for Marvel's Edge of the Spider-Verse.

9. PHIL "CM PUNK" BROOKS

Phil "CM Punk" Brooks may have burned all his bridges with the WWE, but he's still one of the most accomplished and experienced wrestlers in the world. With professional wrestling essentially being live-action comics, it makes sense that he'd be able to translate his in-ring mic skills to a side job writing comics.

He penned 2015's Thor Annual #1, where Loki makes the God of Thunder wrestle Hulk in a luchador mask, and has continued to periodically partner with Marvel since.

How Did Casper the Friendly Ghost Die?

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

The star of dozens of animated shorts and specials, hundreds of comics, and one big-screen feature (which spawned a couple of straight-to-video follow-ups), Casper the Friendly Ghost has enjoyed a great deal of spooky success since he debuted in 1945. An affable spirit, the seemingly pre-adolescent blob of ectoplasm only wants to make friends. Unfortunately, people are consistently wary of his ethereal qualities. In the earliest shorts, he preferred to hang out by himself near a tombstone.

Does the tombstone belong to him? By virtue of being a ghost, doesn’t that mean Casper was once a real, live boy who suffered a tragic fate at a young age?

The Ghost With No Name

When Casper was created back in 1940 by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo, the question apparently didn’t come up. Reit and Oriolo planned to have Casper—who did not yet have a name—be the star of an illustrated children’s book, with Reit writing and Oriolo illustrating it. They never got the chance. The two, who worked at Fleischer Studios on animated shorts, were both drafted to serve in World War II. When they returned, Fleischer Studios had been purchased by Paramount, renamed Famous Studios, and wanted complete control over the intellectual property of work created by employees. The two sold Casper and other characters for a total of $200 to Paramount.

When Casper made his animated debut in the 1945 Famous Studios short “The Friendly Ghost,” he finally got a name, but no mention was made of his origins. The short references his “brothers and sisters” who enjoy scaring people but offers no other details of his private life.

A second short, 1948’s “There’s Good Boos To-Night,” shows Casper leaning on a tombstone while reading a book, with a “Love Thy Neighbor” sign hanging nearby. The ghosts in the cemetery are referred to as his “neighbors” and appear to rise from their respective resting places when it’s time to go haunting. This would imply Casper is relaxing at his own gravesite, though his name doesn’t appear on the tombstone. If so, it would support the idea he once occupied the land of the living.

As Casper moved into another medium, however, a case began to be made for his existence as something other than human. In 1949, St. John Publishing produced five Casper comics. In 1952, Harvey Comics took over the license. In an effort to expand Casper’s world, Harvey gave him a ghost family, including a mom and three uncles. None of them were named until 1955, when the uncles were dubbed Fatso, Fusso, and Lazo. What wasn’t clear, however, was whether Casper’s relatives were all deceased as well or whether the Casper mythology implies ghosts are simply "born" ghosts.

The Pneumonia Theory

When the Casper feature film starring Christina Ricci was released in 1995, producers apparently thought moviegoers would be confused by a lack of explanation, and so the Casper of that film was portrayed as a boy named Casper McFadden. He was said to have died of pneumonia at the age of 12 after staying out in cold weather for too long playing with a sled he had just received as a gift.

There is one alternative, and slightly darker, theory that was purportedly first floated by The Simpsons. In the 1991 episode “Three Men and a Comic Book,” Bart and Lisa speculate that Casper is the ghost of Richie Rich, another Harvey Comics icon. (The two bear a resemblance.) Lisa believes that his realization of “how hollow the pursuit of money really is” caused Richie to take his own life. Other observers have speculated that perhaps Richie’s parents killed their son for the insurance money.

This is, of course, virtually impossible, as Richie Rich wasn’t created until 1953, 13 years after Reit and Oriolo conceived of Casper.

So what is Casper—former boy or forever ghost? Given his comfort hanging around a tombstone and his pleasant nature preventing him from besmirching the grave of another, it seems likely he was once human. To date, only the 1995 feature has attempted to detail what led him to the afterlife. Considering Casper's appeal as a children's property, that's probably for the best.

The Far Side Is Officially Online—And New Art Is Coming

Courtesy of FarWorks
Courtesy of FarWorks

In September, a cryptic update to cartoonist Gary Larson’s The Far Side website hinted that something new might be in store for fans of the popular single-panel comic strip. This week, Larson and his syndicate, Andrews McMeel Universal, made it official. The irreverent cartoon, which originally ran from 1980 to 1995 and explored the perils of anthropomorphic cows and science run amok, will now be available online for the first time. But it won’t be strictly archival material: Larson plans to periodically revisit his bizarre world with new art.

In an open letter posted to the site, Larson explained that he was initially taken aback by fans using scanners and posting his work on the web without permission. According to Larson, part of his reluctance to share his catalog of work was due to the questionable resolution of older computer screens, which might miss some nuances of his artwork. With new displays making that concern obsolete, the artist decided to enable readers to enjoy the strip without having to go looking for illicit files.

In a interview with The New York Times, Larson also addressed his plans to supplement his collection with new panels, though readers shouldn’t expect anything resembling a schedule. “I’m not ‘back,’ at least in the sense I think you’re asking,” he said via email. “Returning to the world of deadlines isn’t exactly on my to-do list.”

Fresh artwork will likely be seen in 2020. But for the moment, The Far Side site will be home to a revolving library of content, from random daily posts to curated and themed collections. Larson will also post sketches and other ancillary material.

Larson is not the only iconic cartoonist to make a return. In 2014, Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes fame ended a near-20 year sabbatical from the comics pages to ghost-pencil cartoonist Stephan Pastis’s Pearls Before Swine. And in 2015, Berkeley Breathed resurrected his Bloom County for Facebook.

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