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Interview: Erik Burnham Discusses GHOSTBUSTERS

The writer dishes out the details on the upcoming event, "Mass Hysteria," and reveals who would be on his Ghostbusters dream team!

IDW's latest GHOSTBUSTERS run by Erik Burnham and Dan Schoening has been massively entertaining and to make matters even better, they're going to celebrate the franchise's 30th anniversary in a big way. This February, the 8-part story called Mass Hysteria will kick-off and we had the chance to chat with Burnham about the upcoming event. What's the basic premise? What inspired him to write it? Who's his favorite Ghostbuster? Read on to see the answers to those questions and much, much more.

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COMIC VINE: First and foremost, how does it feel to work on such an iconic franchise?

ERIK BURNHAM: It’s been incredibly… fun. Just a blast. Ghostbusters has been something I’ve loved since I first saw it on video in 1986. That movie and others like it probably shaped my personality far more than my mother would have liked, but at least it’s all paying off now.

I prefer to think of it that way – if I go the other way, where I’m guiding the lives of characters I’ve known for almost my entire life, well, that could make me nervous.

CV: Dan Schoening's art... wow, just wow. What's it like seeing him bring your scripts to life with such a fun and energetic vibe?

EB: Working with Dan is a privilege and a pleasure. We’ve been in sync on this title, and if I don’t get exactly what I’ve been expecting, I get something better. This extends to colorist Luis Antonio Delgado, as well. These guys both bring their A-Game and plenty of ideas to build on what I’ve written and make the book better.

Seeing those pages come in is always a high point.

CV: How long have you idea the idea for "Mass Hysteria" floating around in your head?

EB: I’ve had pieces of it popping up in my brain over the last year or so – ideas that didn’t fit other stories so much, but gelled together to become their own thing.

I also felt the gauntlet was thrown when [GB Editor] Tom Waltz told me about his plans for the 8 part epic City Fall over in TMNT. It’s like he was daring me, which, to be fair, he does a lot anyway.

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CV: Why is it a story that Ghostbusters fans -- be it casual or die-hard -- need to read?

EB: It’s the same type of fun that Dan, Luis, and I strive to deliver every month, but moreso than ever, this is a love letter to the Ghostbusters in honor of the 30th anniversary. It will bring in characters we haven’t seen in the book before, a few nods to the past, every character who has worn a proton pack during our run, and to top it all off, a major change to the life of one of the boys.

We’re delivering an enemy that won’t be beaten by concentrating crossed proton streams in a single location, and we’re bringing everyone who has ever worn a proton pack into the story to help.

If Ghostbusters: The Series has been played like a TV show up until this point, then Mass Hysteria is closer to a movie.

But at the end of the day, it’s going to be a fun ride with highs, lows, and humor -- and who doesn’t need more fun in their life?

CV: What do you believe sets your run apart from the previous Ghostbusters material?

EB: I’m probably too close to the work to make that kind of analysis. I’m just trying to have fun while I write and hope that translates to the audience experience. If I come anywhere near to living up to the potential of the franchise, I’m happy.

(I’d love it if I could come up with a long, flowery, and possibly pretentious answer for this… but I’m from Minnesota! Sorry, folks!)

CV: I assume it'll be a good jumping-on spot for new readers?

EB: We do our best to make things as accessible as possible anyway, and the story will be straightforward… but we’re still building on a few stories that folks might have missed. That said, Tom and I have a plan to make sure new readers are up to speed, but longtime fans aren’t stung by repetition of what they already know: we’re going to include a new reader cheat sheet in the back of each issue, introducing all the new characters and filling folks in on the changes to the familiar faces… so anyone who wonders why the Ghostbusters are taking orders from Walter Peck, for example, or who Mel Ortiz is, well, they’ll have their questions answered and can just hop right back into the story.

We’ve got you covered, folks.

…It occurs to me now that I could’ve gone with “yes, absolutely” to answer this. Well, live and learn!

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CV: If you had to promote the story in 5 words or less, what would you say?

EB: “Buy it, I love paychecks.” No, wait, I can do better… “Pick it up for fun!” Maybe “Hey, kids! Who likes slime?” I could do this all day…

CV: Who's your favorite Ghostbuster? And to make things interesting, it can't be Peter.

EB: Peter’s definitely got the voice closest to my own, but I’m going with Egon. You just can’t get weirder than Egon, and I love that.

CV: If you had to create a team of 4 Ghosbusters from other characters in IDW books, who would you pick and why? I've heard Samurai Jack and Judge Dredd ain't afraid of no ghost.

EB: Oh. Ohhh, can this be the crossover for 2015? I’m calling dibs now.

I’ll take Donatello of the TMNT, GI Joe’s Scarlett, Samurai Jack, and the FBI’s Fox Mulder.

And let’s retrofit the Transformer Ratchet as Ecto-1!

As for Dredd – I wonder if the Ecto Containment Unit could keep hold of Judge Death? Hmmm...

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CV: At IDW you've tackled Ghostbusters AND The Ninja Turtles. Are there any other franchises you'd love to dive into?

EB: Those two quartets were nearest and dearest to my heart, and I hope I’m not done with either yet. But as for others... you know what? I’m up for anything. From The Crow to My Little Pony to Star Trek to GI Joe, and I can hear a whole mess of the Cartoon Network properties calling my name, too.

Man, way to hit me with option paralysis! I just realized how much I want to play with *all* the toys!

CV: Most important question of all: did you ever dress as a Ghostbuster on Halloween?

EB: To my eternal shame, no. The only costume I can remember wearing as a kid was the devil. Make of that what you will.

CV: Thanks, Erik!

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GHOSTBUSTERS #13 will go on sale this February. You can follow Erik Burnham on Twitter @erikburnham.