The Ghostbusters are turning 30 this year and IDW's current volume is celebrating in a very fun way. The current story, Mass Hysteria!, is one big dose of fan service and an organic follow-up to the two unforgettable movies. We had a chance to chat with with comic book's creative team -- writer Erik Burnham and artist Dan Schoening -- about the current adventure and why the franchise has survived the test of time.
COMIC VINE: What makes Ghostbusters so special to you?
ERIK BURNHAM: There’s a lot. It was an early example to me (along with Spider-Man) on how to combat fear and discomfort with humor, which is a powerful lesson for me. And at its core is an inherently optimistic nature; they don’t discuss giving up at any point, or with any problem. They move on and confront whatever problem they have with the tools at their disposal.
DAN SCHOENING: I first saw Ghostbusters in the theaters when I was around 7, and I was hooked. I remember acting out scenes with friends, one in particular was the scene when the guys meet the librarian ghost (I was always Ray of course). I honesty dreamed of owning a Unlicensed Nuclear Accelerator (maybe I still do?). The cartoon aired in 1986, which only added to the enthusiasm of Ghostbusters. It was different, but equally as good. Don't get me started about the toys! I never did get the firehouse though. When Ghostbusters 2 came out, I was there opening night with my friends. It's really such a big part of my younger years, yet it's just as fun and exciting now to watch the films and show. The idea of capturing ghosts is just pure fun and excitement, it appeals to the child in us all.
CV: What do you hope to bring to the franchise with the latest volume?
EB: The same thing we’ve tried with the prior volumes: a little bit more of the fun people expect from the property, and to touch base with some of the fun things from the movies that we haven’t yet.
DS: Exploring more of the characters personalities. Each one is unique and brings so much to the pages. The films created such great and delineated characters, it would be a shame not to explore them in more depth. It's fun to see how certain pairs of characters work together. I also hope to bring a few scares, too. Upping the anti with a few spookier ghouls.
CV: What is your collaboration process like?
EB: Smooth, that’s what it’s like! I do and have asked Dan what he’d like to draw and try to work those things in (unless he’s too busy to answer me!) Beyond that, I write a story leaving as much leeway for him as possible so that he can add what he likes to the story. After the script is done, it goes off to Tom, Dan, and colorist Luis Delgado for comments. Everybody’s spoken up with ideas, and I’ll change things at the drop of a hat when there’s a new idea that someone is excited about. Makes for a better book. If Dan or Luis need changes in dialogue after they’ve made any changes, I’ll do that then. Then it’s off for approval.
DS: First we start with Erik's great scripts. After I have read it once or twice, I'll being to look for reference material. That material ranges from props to locations. When I have gathered all that information, I'll being thumbnailing the story out. That process can take me up to three days, depending on the story. When I'm finished thumbnails, I send them to the rest of the team for any feedback. Crits and comments are very important in this stage, as fixing things now is much quicker than after pencils. When I'm finished the pencils I send them to Luis for colors. We occasionally bounce color ideas off each other as we want to make every page sing.
CV: What's it like creating an all-new chapter for these classic characters?
EB: It’s literally a dream job. It all boils down to that. Every page is fun to write.
DS: Humbling to be a part of something I've loved for so long. It's a dream come true to illustrate these characters, their world, and to work with an amazing team of talent.
CV: How many easter eggs have you two packed into the series? Can you perhaps give us a hint or two about some of the upcoming ones?
EB: I’ve only planted a couple dozen in the script; I wouldn’t even want to GUESS how many Dan has placed in there. Hundreds of nods to the franchise, at least. And here’s a hint: we put in a nod to one of the original notions for a form of Gozer (before the one ultimately chosen on film.)
DS: More than the easter bunny could count, lol. Hmmm, I guess as an upcoming egg hint, I could say that it's always good to dust away the cob-webs.
CV: Do you have a favorite scene or line from Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II?
EB: If I had to – HAD to – pick... my favorite sequence in GB1 is the initial library encounter, while “leading the witness” in GB2 was my favorite there. Asking to pick a favorite line in films littered with good ones is nigh impossible.
DS: There are so many favorites. Off the top of my head; Ghostbusters, when the guys come out of the ballroom after capturing Slimer. The subtle hand gestures Egon gives to Peter about the costs for proton charging and storage of the beast is hilarious. Ghostbusters 2, I think the scene when Peter first meets Janosz is one of my favorites. The slimy hand shake between the two always gets me.
CV: What are your thoughts on a potential 3rd movie?
EB: I’m available to write it. It may never get made, but I am willing to cash the check.
Seriously, the concept is strong enough to support a reboot or a baton-tossing; I don’t know if it’ll be good, if it is good, I don’t know that it’ll be timeless… but it will be used again someday. I’m sure I’ll be first in line either way. If it blows, I have the good stuff at home on disc to make me feel better. If it’s great, cool! The more the merrier.
DS: I'd love to see another Ghostbusters film. There is so much potential with the technology and concept. I personally feel Erik should write it, he knows these character's voices so well.
CV: Do you own any Ghostbusters collectibles?
EB: Not as many as I’d like! I have a Stay Puft bank gifted to me by a friend after it was announced I’d be writing the Infestation mini-series back in 2010… and my brother and sister grabbed me all of the Funko figures that were available (not Winston and Ecto yet, but the rest.) I think that may be it!
DS: And how! I collect Stay Pufts, so I have quite a few of those.I just got the Funko one, he's awesome. I have the Real Ghostbusters board game, original action figures and the Ecto-1. I could go on... there is a fair amount.
CV: Why should people check out Mass Hysteria?
EB: Hopefully to join in the fun! That’s the best reason to read the series at all – to have some fun with this very unique group of nuts. And also because Dan’s upped the already high bar with his art.
DS: The Mass Hysteria Arc is the biggest arc we've done to date, and we are throwing everything in that we as fans love. You'll see familiar faces like Dana Barrett and Louis Tully, while introducing a new Godly threat. I hope readers will find that it feels like a continuation of the films. You couldn't get a higher compliment than that!
CV: Can you tease anything about the upcoming issue (#17)?
EB: He is WIGO. And he is dropping by.
DS: Water, two electrically terrifying convicted murderers, Peter complaining, Ray excited, Winston cautious, Egon curious, and Vigo the Butch.
CV: It's also the TMNT's 30th anniversary and both properties happen to be at IDW. So, when are we going to see a Ghostbusters and Ninja Turtles crossover?! What do you think that would be like?
EB: It’d be awesome to see two of my favorite sets of characters come together, and I know I’m not alone in thinking so. In fact, this has come up a lot from fans of both franchises in the past; it’s even made its way into the TMNT Ninja Notes letter column! At the end of the day, I’d just plain love to see it happen.
DS: That idea would blow my mind, as I also loved the Ninja Turtles growing up. I think both teams in the same book would be a wild ride. I can only imagine the conversations between Donatello (my favorite turtle) and Egon. They'd get along great. Peter and Raph, probably not so much...
Here's a preview of GHOSTBUSTERS #17. The issue goes on sale June 25.