Ghosts in popular culture are always a dramatic affair. They’ve either got some terrible crime that needs avenging, have a child that needs looking after, or a house that needs haunting poltergeist-style. Sometimes they even turn out to be a man in a suit trying to scare people away from buying a piece of property so he can get on it on the cheap and sell it for huge profits only to be foiled by a bunch of kids with nothing better to do than solve “mysteries”.

Rarely do ghosts take the whole “unfinished business” thing literally. Odds are pretty good that if even 1% of the population were capable of becoming a ghost, there’d be at least a few trying to get the Johnson Report in to the main office by Friday.

Put that in a movie, M. Night Shyamalan!

It’s strange that ghosts haven’t really made an appearance in the strip up until now considering the nature of this whole affair. There was that one strip that mentioned the ghost of Hitler’s ghost (a concept I still want to explore further), but that probably doesn’t count.

The idea that a person can die and come back again in some alternative and less physical form is one that has been seen in cultures all across the globe and spanning the history of human existence, largely due to animist belief systems and ancestor worship. Unlike a proper afterlife, wherein the soul or spirit of a person ascends to some other place (sometimes a paradise, sometimes an alternate world not unlike our own), ghosts are thought to hang around and haunt this earth for any number of reasons from the mundane to the totally awesome. Whether the spirit requires retribution, answers the prayers of ancestors, or has simply lost its way on the trip to the afterlife (it’s confusing, they don’t have GPS) is a question of culture and the particular circumstances of the life and death of the individual in question. There are, apparently, some ghosts that also don’t recognize that they are dead, continuing the life they lead in death and, generally, being pretty boring.

There has, in recent years, been a growing field of paranormal investigation surrounding the idea of ghosts and spirits that has sought to find legitimate evidence of the existence of such things. Like the search for extraterrestrial evidence, however, there hasn’t been a great deal that’s been very compelling. And by “hasn’t been a great deal” I mean, really nothing that would stand up in a scientific journal.

As interesting as it would be for us to find evidence of some kind of spirit world or the continuation of human consciousness existing after death, it would also be sort of depressing. I mean, you’re finally free from your earthly body, you can do anything, go anywhere, and you choose to hover around and moan and wail and sometimes make a glass of water move mysteriously? Yawn. Dullsville. Why not uncover the secrets of the universe? Why not learn everything you can about the life cycle of strange creatures living at the bottom of the ocean?

Why not watch people get naked?

You can tell that all these things were thought up by the living, by people that have never experienced death or the disconnection of the soul if there is one, because it is remarkably centered on the living. Ghosts, to many people, exist to comfort them and help them, not to move on to experience some amazing truth the living could never fathom.

If I ever become a ghost, I’m sure as hell not hanging around this place to listen to my grandkids complain about money being a little tight.

They can take care of themselves. I’ll be too busy doing some ghost-surfing.