Casper, the Friendly Ghost had a long history in animation and comics. Originally created for a children's book by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo, he instead found life (pun intended) in Paramount/Famous Studios cartoons beginning in 1945. While the theatrical cartoons ran until 1959, Casper became a staple of early television, with new cartoons soon created for television. Casper first starred in his own comic book at St. John in 1949, moving to Harvey comics in 1952. In 1959 Harvey purchased the rights to the character.
(Special thanks to Mark Arnold for providing story and possible author info)
ABC also used the opportunity to advertise its prime time fall programs in full page ads.
Off To See The Wizard was a showcase for recent MGM family movies such as Clarence the Cross Eyed Lion and Flipper, highlighted by wraparound animation segments and music from the Wizard of Oz. Chuck Jones was executive producer, Abe Levitow, producer and director, and voices were provided by Daws Butler, June Foray and Mel Blanc. You can view an animated segment here:
On a personal note, I recall an air of excitement that Saturday morning in September 1967 when the new cartoons premiered. At seven years old I was already hooked on comics, having been weaned by my older brother John and was particularly thrilled that two of my favorites - FF and Spidey - were being translated to TV. A year earlier I enjoyed the syndicated Marvel Super Heroes, shown in New York on WOR-TV channel 9. ABC's affiliate in New York was Channel 7, and after Casper (yes, I watched that too!) the FF debuted. I enjoying seeing the Lee-Kirby characters come to life (assisted by Alex Toth, an exceptional comic book artist who worked for Hanna-Barbera on storyboards on all their shows in this period), along with the jazzy theme song and incidental music. I later learned that Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic was voiced by Gerald Mohr, a radio star (notably on "The Adventures of Philip Marlow") and character actor who was featured in many western-themed TV shows in the 1950s and 60s.
The 1967 Spider-Man cartoon often utilized Steve Ditko images on the show, as they had done earlier with The Incredible Hulk segment of Marvel Super-Heroes in 1966,reworking many of his drawings from Tales to Astonish.
Spider-Man followed (with the words IN COLOR flashing on my black and white TV. I didn't quite understand why there was no color on MY set!). It was a thrill to see my favorite hero brought to life, although I couldn't quite understand who The Green Goblin was so different from the comic book version, and why they didn't adapt the unmasking story! Grantray-Lawrence obviously didn't understand their target audience!
Bullwinkle # 1, November 1987, part of Marvel's Star Comics Children's line. Ernie Colon pencils and possible inks. image from the Grand Comic Book Database.