Out with the old and in with the new: That's the attitude writer Erik Burnham is taking as he re-launches IDW Publishing's "Ghostbusters" series this February. The new ongoing kicks off with a story-arc titled "The New Ghostbusters," featuring an all-new line-up of blue-collar exorcists taking over the reigns from Peter Venkman and company.
Launched in 2011 by Burnham and artist Dan Schoening, IDW's first "Ghostbusters" ongoing followed the adventures of the original paranormal exterminators from the popular '80s movies and cartoon series. The new "Ghostbusters" ongoing picks up right where the first left off, with Burnham likening his approach to seasons of a TV show.
Burnham spoke with Comic Book Resources about "Ghostbusters" #1, going into detail about who the "New Ghostbusters" are, how they relate to their predecessors, where the original crew has disappeared to, what to expect in the "Real Ghostbusters" back-up strips and more.
CBR News: Erik, what do you have in store for readers, both old and new, with your re-launched "Ghostbusters?"
Erik Burnham: Here's the basics: the Ghostbusters are captured and spirited away to an inter-dimensional limbo. The New Ghostbusters come together to both search for the originals and continue keeping the city as ghost-free as possible. Why we chose these specific four people is explained right off in issue #1!
So are the original Ghostbusters gone forever?
Not even from the pages of the book! The originals are trapped, and their first question will be, "Can we get out of this mess we're in?" Of course Ray and Egon have already theorized that something like this could happen (What else are they gonna do on Thursday night?), so when we check in with them, they'll be looking to make a jailbreak. And when they do get out (Hey, they're competent), we'll have a whole host of personal complications for the guys to deal with going forward.
Why re-launch "Ghostbusters" rather than simply run this as a new story arc?
We had a hiatus in January due to the "Mars Attacks the Real Ghostbusters" one-shot and decided to come back with a new number one, partly since there is a clear break between #16 of the first volume and this. (If this was a TV show, it'd be a perfect season break, and I say that even though I typically dislike comparing comics to TV seasons.)
Obviously, Janine has been a central part of "Ghostbusters" lore since the '80s. Have any of the other New Ghostbusters previously appeared?
All of them have shown up in the first volume! Kylie Griffin (our version of the "Extreme Ghostbusters" character) first appeared in issue #5. We've used her a couple of times since, as a researcher -- she's the manager for Ray's Occult bookstore, so she has access to all of those books. Melanie Ortiz was the FBI agent the Ghostbusters met in #11, which was set in New Mexico. She's visiting New York in #1 and witnesses Peter's abduction. She's determined to help find him, if she can. Ron Alexander has been popping up in the book since issue #3, in 2011. He had a rival team of "ghost-smashers" we last saw in issue #15.
How are the New Ghostbusters similar to their original Ghostbusters counterparts, and in what ways do they differ?
They're a group of conflicting personalities; that's for sure.
Mel is very Winston-like; she's from law enforcement and is the most on-point of the group.
Janine is as unflappable as Venkman ever was -- she's compassionate, and worries about the people she cares for, but beyond that, she's a rock.
Kylie is a fount of supernatural information -- she's a mix of both Egon and Ray, studying and recalling so much of the oddities of the world.
And Ron Alexander, he's a mix of the technical sides of Egon and Ray -- very clever with mechanical things, but he is a jerk. Not a loveable rascal, like Venkman. In fact, I expect the readers will want to punch him more than once in issue #2. That's been fun to write -- he's more of a love-to-hate character than Walter Peck!
The big way that they're different is that this group doesn't have the same humorous shorthand and charisma as the originals. How can they? The first group, Winston aside, worked together for years before they even became Ghostbusters.
After this initial arc, can readers expect to see the New Ghostbusters stick around?
I can say that if the fans like the New Ghostbusters, there are always ways to put this group back together for more adventures, and I'd be happy to do so. But for now, the originals will return.
Why should fans of the "old" Ghostbusters check out the New Ghostbusters?
To get a fun Ghostbusting story that is still full of humor, but with a slightly different dynamic. We've done an arc of 'busting in other cities; this is an arc of the City with different 'Busters! And, of course, it touches on Aykroyd's original Ghostbusters concept some, with extra-dimensional adventures. Not to the extent of his first draft script, but it's a fun nod to that unrealized past!
"Ghostbusters" #1 will also feature "The Real Ghostbusters" back-up strips based on the '80s animated show. What brought about these back-ups and what types of stories can fans expect from them?
Tristan Jones, a part of the team since we started, just had too much on his plate to continue doing the backups. At that time, Tom was already thinking about replacing "PCOC" [Paranormal Contracts Oversight Commission] with "Real Ghostbusters" (still with Tristan in the driver's seat.) When Jones declined, I thought it might be fun to try drawing a story myself.
For now, the backups will be eight page shorts broken up into two pages each month -- nothing too complicated, due to that format. I'll be shooting for stories that can both fit into the eight pages and ,em>not be something that could be better done in the main feature with Dan and ten times the page count. Our first story follows a recently trapped ghost into the containment unit, and seeing what happens to him.
Do you have any projects coming up outside of your "Ghostbusters" work?
I wish there was something I could talk about! Frustratingly, as I write this, most of the stuff I'm working on is in either the "just pitched" phase or the "definitely happening but I can't talk about it yet" phase.
Right now, "Secret History of the Foot Clan" (which I co-scripted with artist Mateus Santolouco) is underway, and I hope folks are enjoying it. I definitely hope to do more work in the TMNT corner of IDW in the future. There are a couple of creator-owned things I'm scratching aside time for, too, but that's no chore. Like I've always said, I'm a workaholic, and I love working on comics.
"Ghostbusters" #1, featuring the adventures of the New Ghostbusters by Erik Burnham with art by Dan Schoening and Luis Antonio Delgado, is available February 27 from IDW Publishing.