Do you know what’s happening this week?!? Ghostbusters is coming back to the big screen (in select cinemas of course). Since our local theatre is one of the lucky ones, you can bet I’ll be there – seeing it as many times as possible. Woo hoo!!! Given the fact that Ghostbusters is one of the greatest movies of all time and has continued on in an incredibly fun (and faithful) IDW comic series, I figured it was time to talk a little ghosts and ghostbusting. Call it fate. Call it luck. Call it karma…I believe I was destined to write this post.
The Ghostbusters and I go way back. One of the things that I’ve really enjoyed about my return to comic books is the ability to reconnect with all these characters I loved as a kid. I’ve found Spidey, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and so much more all over again. As a kid, I loved the Ghostbusters! My brother and I watched all of their cartoons. We ran around the house carrying our Proton Packs, PKE meters, and traps. And, one magical day, my Uncle Joe gave us a once-blank VHS tape on which he had recorded the original Ghostbusters from a television broadcast for us. It was a revelation! Here were Egon, Ray, Winston, and Peter in real life! Slimer was there too! And the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man! It became one of those movies that played on a seemingly endless loop through my childhood.
I would meet the Ghostbusters again as an adult about fifteen years ago. Before I was a Theology teacher I was a Youth Minister. Ahh, they were good times – so many theological hijinks. Anyway, once we were taking some Youth Group students on a ski trip and were looking for movies for the bus. The other chaperon and I both loved Ghostbusters as kids and thought it would be the perfect choice. For a religious group bus trip. With middle schoolers. And a few parents too. You may’ve already guessed where this is going. That was the day I learned just how much sexual innuendo is in Ghostbusters. I had no idea! It went right over my head as a kid! But it was awkwardly obvious as we drove. I realized “Gate Keeper” and “Key Master” had a whole other meaning.
It didn’t sully my opinion of the film. In fact, it gave me a whole new dimension to appreciate as an adult! I might love Ghostbusters even more as an adult than I did as a kid – or at least I love it as much but in a brand new way. For me, it’s one of those perfect films. Every dimension of the film is perfect. It never stops begin funny, thrilling, and enjoyable, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. And I’ve seen the movie a lot. It’s in the illustrious group of films I can quote line for line AND (with the exception of Dumb & Dumber) there’s no movie I quote more often than Ghostbusters. It even ranks as one of my five desert island movies. You know the situation; you’re trapped on a desert island (that has electricity and a means of projecting films albeit no feasible means of escape) for the rest of your life and can only choose five films to take with you. No question – Ghostbusters is on the list.
The Ghostbusters have even helped me in my romantic life! When I started dating Kalie I discovered she was a horror movie enthusiast. I was not. At all. Before we started dating the number of horror films I’d seen was zero. But since (apparently) you share each other’s interests in a relationship I’ve braced myself, tried to find inner bravery, and dived into the genre. Over time I’ve come to appreciate horror in its own way…but it was a long time coming. So when we’d watch horror movies I’d often play a game I called “When would I call the Ghostbusters?”
It’s an easy game. You begin by watching a horror movie. You enjoy the start of the film where everyone’s alive and part of a happy family. As things start to get weird and go south you put yourself in the character’s shoes. If you’re imagining it’s real and imagining it’s happening to you it’s not a far stretch to imagine that the Ghostbusters are also real. Then you just say, “If this was happening to my family/house/child/significant other/self/etc., when would I call the Ghostbusters?” From that point on you watch a different movie in your head, the one where the Ghostbusters arrive and save the day. They’re always ready to believe you when you call and the ghost never has a chance. Those versions of the films tend to be happier and are always funnier too.
It’s an interesting thing about horror movies, they always try to give you a deep and disturbing look at the darkness but they rarely offer a balanced force on the light side (no Star Wars pun intended) to counter or challenge the dark. All mythologies, all theologies, that present some vision of Evil offer some vision of Truth or the Good to oppose (and ultimately triumph over) it. But that’s rarely the case in horror films where the good, God, the Light, or whatever you want to call it is comically impotent at best or completely absent at worst. I get it though; that’s how those films have to function. If you have an angelic force of equal or greater power Bughuul isn’t as scary anymore. It is certainly a more accurate (not to mention healthy) theology but Sinister isn’t looking to offer a balanced theology/mythology. It’s looking to scare the shit out of me. And it did! That’s why I had to call in the Ghostbusters…at least in my head.
As big of a baby as I am in real life, I still (not so) secretly think being a Ghostbuster would be my dream job. I can’t envision myself doing anything other than/loving something more than teaching…except maybe being a Ghostbuster. How cool would that be?!? No job would be too big; no fee would be too big. I’m not talking a lame, “real life” paranormal investigator with infrared cameras and a ghost reality show on TLC or something like that. I’m not even talking the Insidious-esque movie versions of those crews that get to face off against real ghosts. I’m talking a real, live scientist with a real, live unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back. I seriously think I could do it! Right?? I’d have the tools…and I’d have the talent! ALSO ghostbusting is essentially nonviolent so I wouldn’t even have to forsake my pacifistic nature to do the job!!! This wasn’t something I understood (or even noticed) as a child, but it’s something I love as an adult. The Ghostbusters aren’t out to destroy the ghosts. They don’t even really hurt them. They contain them. If the spirits are just chillin’ and doing their thing, they leave them unmolested. The ones who are being violent or scary however, they hold with their proton streams, suck into their trap, and then deposit in their state of the art containment unit. The Ghostbusters are nonviolent superheroes. It is the greatest thing ever!
When I was a kid, Egon was my favorite. He still is actually. I would always pretend to be him when we were little. (David, loved (and still loves) Winston.) I loved that he was the brains behind the outfit. I loved that he was the one who’d build and maintain everything. I loved that he could always rationalize his way out of whatever problem they faced. I even loved the big, blonde…whatever it was on his head in the cartoon version. There was nothing he couldn’t do with his mind. Egon was my man! However, after a lengthy discussion at work with my friend Hannah (we were putting ourselves and some of our coworkers into Ghostbuster roles based on our personalities) I’ve had to accept that perhaps, in real life, I couldn’t cut it as Egon. Without hesitation (and backed by a surprisingly in-depth character analysis) she made the convincing case that I’m actually Peter. Among many other points, I was “more like a game show host” than the rest of us. Sigh. But even if Pete is more my spirit animal than Egon, I’ll take it. I’m still a Ghostbuster right?!?
However, I can’t be a Ghostbuster in real life (at least not yet!). That means I’ll have to just stick with letting people know, as best I can as a Theology teacher, that no one steps on a church in my town. That also means I have to leave ghosts and ghostbusting to Egon, Winston, Ray, and Peter. At least the job’s in capable hands! Believe me, I know how skilled they are.
I can’t even begin to guess how many times I’ve seen Ghostbusters. But if I had to guess I’d put it around…nowhere near enough. I can say how many times I’ve seen Ghostbusters 2 though. I’ve seen it two and a half times. The first, in the theatre, when I was seven. It scared the hell out of me! The ooze…Viggo…poor Oscar…ugh. But that’s the story for another post. I watched about ten minutes of it on Comedy Central (the courtroom scene) a few years ago and thought it wasn’t so bad…but I remained hesitant.
But Kalie, with her love of chasing fear and frights, encouraged me to watch it with her. She reasoned after Sinister, Insidious, The Shining, and the like it couldn’t still scare me. Do you know what happened? She was right!!! I actually thought it was a really fun movie and had a great message too. Of course NOTHING can compare to the original Ghostbusters but I still liked it.
But with just two movies (and no natural talent for and/or interest in video games) the story of the cinematic versions of Ray, Peter, Winston, and Egon stopped there…until I discovered IDW’s Ghostbusters comic series. I met their comic incarnations at the same time I met IDW’s version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in what literary scholars will undoubtedly end up declaring the GREATEST COMPOSITION IN HUMAN HISTORY. Did you know the Ghostbusters and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have actually teamed up????? If you didn’t know that, let me help you. Go to Amazon now and buy the trade paperback of the four issue miniseries. How good was this comic? Well I now own every Ghostbusters comic IDW’s published and I’ve collected their complete Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series as well. The quality that I found in this team-up volume was consistent across all the titles, only growing in complexity, depth, and entertainment the more I knew the characters.
IDW’s Ghostbusters title has run inconsistently since 2011 – with two regular monthly series as well as several miniseries over the course of the last five years. Currently Ray, Peter, Egon, and Winston are starring in their third monthly series – Ghostbusters International – where they travel the globe to help with paranormal problems. Erik Burnham, author of the Ghostbusters titles, manages to not only perfectly capture the characters in the films (while also expanding their stories in an organic way) but anchor the ghosts they face in all manner of authentic history, mythology, fables, and folk tales.
In so doing, the Ghostbusters have faced some dark and twisted demons. Drawing from Russian folklore for example, they encounter a being who can’t die…but continues to age. They also do Krampus in a way that’s creepier than the 2015 film (which you can read about here). Their trademark humor remains intact and they good guys are there to win (unlike the traditional exploits of those who live in horror films) but there is an edge to many of their exploits. In addition to evolving the characters, Burnham also builds on the original stories of the films and then expands the mythology there as well, all while keeping with the characters’ history and personality.
One of the most exciting ways they have expanded the Ghostbusters’ story is with their expanded cast. Peter, Egon, Ray, Winston, Janine, Slimer, Dana Barrett, Louis Tully, and even Walter Peck are there. But we also meet FBI Special Agent Melanie Ortiz, occasional bureau liaison to and partner with the Ghostbusters. Then there’s Kylie Griffin, the assistant at Ray’s Occult Bookstore who proves an invaluable research assistant (and also occasional Ghostbuster). The rookie character from the video game is around too, leading a Ghostbusters branch in Chicago. And then there’s ubber douche Ron Alexander who began by creating a rival team called the Ghost Smashers (with stolen tech) before becoming an unlikely (and unlikable) ally. He often works out of the Chicago branch too. Jenny Moran, one-time Ghost Smasher and long-time Ghostbuster admirer, works as the municipal liaison to the office as well through the Paranormal Contracts Oversight Commission. There’s also the seeds of romance brewing between her and a certain “heart of the Ghostbusters”… The cast is so rich and I want to learn more about them!
From the characters to the challenges to the witty dialogue, IDW’s Ghostbusters does right by the films. It’s not just the films that are represented though. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the most postmodern crossovers ever as the Ghostbusters meet…their cartoon selves. I kid you not. It was wild! Given how much I loved the cartoons though, the miniseries did not disappoint! Shortly after I first finished the Ghostbusters/Turtles crossover, I ordered the two massive volumes from Amazon that collect all of the IDW Ghostbuster comics up to the crossover with themselves. I devoured the volumes (each over 400 pages) in a week. They were so good! If you like the Ghostbusters, do yourself a favor and check out these titles at some point in time. You…you’ve earned it.
If nothing else, we all need more Ghostbusters in our lives for the sage wisdom they provide. Speaking both as wishful would-be Ghostbuster and a seasoned Theology teacher I can tell you…if someone asks if you’re a god, you say yes. Trust me, it’s just good advice.
Now, it feels like I’ve fulfilled my destiny. It feels good. I wanted to prove myself to you. You’re probably saying, “That Michael Miller is a guy who can get things done. I wonder what makes him tick? I wonder if he’d be interested in knowing what makes me tick?” I bet you’ll be thinking about me, after I’m gone. But don’t worry, another post is coming soon.
8 thoughts on “I ALWAYS Know Who I’m Gonna Call!”
This post was wonderful. I’ve got the same attraction to the fact that the Ghostbusters have an action/adventure job which doesn’t kill anyone. (They might do a ton of property damage, but that is very different.)
And I LOVE the IDW comic. Definitely excited to see the Ghostbusters International finale late this November.
I *do* suggest you try out Ghostbusters: The Video Game. I have never been a girl with much talent at gaming, but even I managed to play through the PlayStation3 version at the ordinary level of difficulty. As the Rookie you bust ghosts while the other Ghostbusters help you out and constantly quibble, snark, and generally act and sound like they do in the films. In other words, great fun.
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YAY!!!! I love, love, looooove when I find someone else who not only shares my love of the Ghostbusters but knows the IDW comic too. Woo hoo!!!
I also really appreciate your endorsement of the game too. I’ve (obviously) wanted to play it since I heard about it, but not being a gamer, was scared it was waaay beyond me. But you’ve inspired me to give it a try!
Also, should we ever figure out how the equipment would work, I think we BOTH need to become real-life Ghostbusters. I already feel like we’d be a natural team and do a pretty good job :).
Hope you enjoy the game!
And I’ll happily become a professional Ghostbuster in a team with you, we seem to have similar interests and probably compatible personalities–from your blog you seem like a person who could handle being friends with someone with my eccentricities.
If you don’t mind, I would like to ask you a question: If you have a Ghostbusters persona, would you be willing to tell me about it? By which I mean, if you were a character in the IDW comics, what would you do? Where would you work? (Which branch? Or maybe with Ortiz?) What do you think of the other Ghostbusters (all of them, if you have thought it out that clearly, not just the original four guys,) and what do they think of YOU? Feel free to throw in any other details you think are interesting. I’ve been asking several people this scenario, it’s becoming a habit, and the answers are usually interesting and entertaining.
And now, encouraged by the fact you bothered to reply to my initial comment, I’m going to ramble on about myself and how I got into the franchise.
It’s actually because of IDW that I’m into Ghostbusters! I saw the first movie probably 7 years ago, and the timing was all wrong for me. I couldn’t figure out how to process all of the innuendo in the film; it was literally the most sexually charged thing I’d ever seen. I was old enough to comprehend the insinuations, but not old enough to have any idea how to process them. (I lead a very innocent childhood and adolescence. And I think I may be, to use the modern term, asexual, so even now there’s no draw for me in such content, I’m just better at seeing value in stories with those components of human existence.)
Anyway, I was in the comic book store to pick up the newest issue of Back to the Future, when I saw the Ghostbusters Deviations little one shot on the shelf, the cover art attracted my attention–how could I ignore the sad-looking but gigantic Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man sitting dejectedly on a building? So next thing I knew I was buying a comic based off of a movie I had only seen once 7 years ago and didn’t even exactly have lots of fond memories of, and then I was at home reading it and being surprised by how much I liked it. Naturally, this lead to me buying the two movies on Vudu, which I watched back to back one night. And this time, the franchise clicked. I could see past the overly sexual components clearly to get to all the awesomeness. The building of awesome tech outside of laboratory conditions, friends working together, a headquarters with a freakin’ firepole to slide down, adventure without killing, fabulous dialog, a cello player, a super cute baby, backpack atom smashers that shot wavy-laser-looking streams of protons, etc. And also, (I’m guessing you don’t agree on this point based on what you’ve written,) the psychomagnotheric slime was a huge draw, I just fell in love with the concept of the stuff right away and wanted a batch in real life to experiment on and learn about.
Pretty soon Ebay was getting a bunch of my money as I bought up books of all the Ghostbusters comics to come out before Ghostbusters International. And I couldn’t get enough of the comics, they were everything I loved about the franchise. And I watched the cartoons, and read the reprints of the comics based on The Real Ghostbusters, and played the video game, and started right in on making a cosplay, and saw the original movie in the theater, and then later went to see Answer the Call four times, and generally gobbled it all up gleefully. It’s not too often I sort of, magically connect with something, but when it happens, it just goes full force and somehow never seems to stop. (As shown by me and my continuing history with The Hardy Boys, Star Wars, Star Trek, Back to the Future, and Doctor Who.)
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I think it is AMAZING that you actually became a fan of the Ghostbusters because of the comics!!! I mean, I’m not surprised. Obviously I love the comics. They are some of the best books being published right now and remain on my “indispensable” list when I look at what makes my monthly file. But, as a comic fan, I think it’s such a wonderful statement to the power of a good book – that it can pull you into the rest of the characters’ world. Also (and this is super nerdy) but I love, love, looooove your passion for the characters across all mediums!! I’m with you 100% and share your enthusiasm. There’s just something SPECIAL about the Ghostbusters and – as you pointed out – they work in so many different venues while retaining the magic of what makes them so special to begin with.
As to where I’d fit in inside the Ghostbusters world…I’ve literally been thinking about your question all day. I saw your comment this morning but I couldn’t even begin to reply until I gave this the thought it required :). And, after I realized where I’d be, it was so obvious I was surprised I didn’t think of it sooner!! I would totally be working in Ray’s Occult with Kylie. I don’t have the science chops to do the work Egon and Ray do (even though I wish I did). And I don’t think I’m quite brave/badass enough to be in the field all the time like Mel and the guys (both New York and Chicago branches (even though I wish I was)). Nor do I have the mind for organization and paperwork like Janine and Jennie (and I’m okay with that!). I’d make a mess of those sorts of things! But, as a teacher who also loves being a student, I love to read and I love to learn. I’m one of those people who is always reading something, whether for work or for pleasure. And there’s no place I like to hang out more than a book store! I was in Borders so much I bought two of their chairs, one of their benches, and I took the “Religion” signs that hung over the Theology department when they closed! Now I stroll through Barnes and Noble as often as I can. I love going into Books Galore (the comic shop and used book store where I get all my comics) and even the little Books-A-Million in our local mall. I’m a brick and mortar guy, through and through. And there’s something MAGICAL about a book store. So the idea of working in Ray’s Occult with Kylie sounds AMAZING. I’d love just working at a book store period! But the chance to study all the stuff she does for the Ghostbusters, trying to puzzle out the different sort of ghost sounds really, really fun too. And then, of course, she also gets to go into the field when they need her!! So that would fill my life with ghostbusting, reading, learning, and hanging-out-in-a-book store-all-day.
As to my relationships with the cast of characters, I like to think I’m a pretty laid back guy. I’m also very extroverted by nature. I tend not to have trouble getting along with most people. So I think I’d click with pretty much all of them and hopefully form some good relationships. As I’ve always loved Egon the most, I wish, wish, wish, WISH that I’d have the hardcore science chops to hang with him and Ray. But I don’t. I would probably fit in well trading sarcastic (and at times inappropriate) comments with Pete and Winston. As I alluded to above above, I think I’d click with Kylie really well. And, while I may be poorly suited to the task, I’d really like the chance to do some FBI-ish stuff with Mel. She is one of my absolute favorite characters in the whole series!! So I’d have to find out a way to get to hang out with her as much as I could. She’s so great!
Also, on the Ghostbusters note, you clearly love them in all of their incarnations and your passion is fantastic. Do you ever do any blogging? Your comments are both well-written and infectiously exciting. Would you be willing to ever write something about your journey with them, how/why you love them, or whatever for my blog?? It’s a bit presumptuous to ask I grant but I like to have guest writers from time to time and I’d LOVE to have someone else telling the world how great the Ghostbusters are :). There’s no rush to decide or to write if you want to, but know the offer’s always on the table!
And thanks again for the wonderfully introspective Ghostbusters question! It’s kept me thinking of ghostbusting all day.
I must say, I was definitely blown away by the quality of your response to my question. This is a characteristic of my geeky friends I enjoy, the complete willingness to devote lots of thinking towards completely fictional scenarios. I’m the same way myself, and it’s always a pleasure to meet someone else interested in crafting somewhat realistic fictional versions of themselves.
I don’t know what it is like to work in an occult book store. I DO work in the local comic book shop. (Admittedly, I haven’t worked there long, I only got the job 3 weeks ago.) It is great! The work often plays to some of my strengths ignored by my previous job at Chick-fil-A, attention to detail, good handwriting, data entry, gentle hands, the desire to do something quite right rather than mostly right and fast, quick induction of information into readily available short term memory… And the perks aren’t bad either: lots to learn, discounts, small staff to work with, opportunity to recommend merchandise for the shop to buy, special access to the items the distributor is discontinuing and selling off cheap, always knowing when a particular title comes in, co-workers to lend me their comics and make recommendations, and a whole host of odd jobs I never thought about needing to be done–such as changing the sign outside, watering the plants, cleaning leaves out of the gutters, painting furniture, and dusting. There IS a certain amount of organisation involved, mostly alphabetizing, but the back room and office are comfortably messy and customized, with lots of weird little in-jokes I’m still figuring out.
I think it’s interesting that although you love Egon as a character, you can admit you may not get along particularly well if you really knew him. You are the second person to say this about yourself when asked this question, and you and the other person to say this both though you WOULD get along well with Venkman and Winston. I wonder if this is a pattern I will find many times if I keep asking this question.
If you over time gained a lot of knowledge, then I’m sure you would eventually get to work with Mel as she tries to deal with weird ghost problems all over the place.
Hey, you know who else works at Ray’s Occult? My Younger Sister’s favorite, Eduardo. Does your Ghostbusters Persona like working with him? (Does he ship him with Kylie?…)
Do you have any thoughts on the Chicago branch people? Peck? Jenny? (Answers are always optional, I understand people on the internet have Real Lives, with more important things than silly hypothetical questions.) 🙂
You surprised me quite a bit by offering to let me write a guest post on your blog. Wanting to give this idea some thought, I’ve waited till now to comment back. The answer is yes, I would be honored to write a post for you about the Ghostbusters. Do you have any parameters I should be aware of, such as length, number if pictures, formatting, etc?
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Yay! You just made my day :). I’ll be so happy to feature a post of yours here! You can email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk about all the specifics there. But feel free to write whatever you’d like. Length/pictures/etc. is entirely up to you. Let your creativity dictate all of that.
In regard to the other characters, I adore Jenny. I love what they’ve done with her character post-Ghost smashers. And I think her little budding romance with Ray is the best! I think those two kids make a cute couple. Perhaps oddly, I hadn’t really thought of Eduardo and Kylie together but it makes sense. If ‘The Office’ taught us anything it’s that work relationships can be great!
Walter Peck though is one of the most intriguing characters to me. In the movie, of course, he was just this vile, annoying, tool. Gah! I hated him there. But, while he’s still frustrating at times, the comics have added more dimensions to his personality. We see his better side (if only in glimpses!) from time to time. The Ireland story arc in ‘Ghostbusters International’ was a good example. Also we see his appreciation for the Ghostbusters and their talent…even if he hates the Ghostbusters :). He seems to look at the Ghostbusters with this weird combination of begrudging respect and disdain. So I am always intrigued when Peck shows up to see how he’ll unfold in the story.
Also…YOU WORK IN A COMIC STORE?? That sounds amazing! WOW. Aaaahhh! I’m all excited and a little jealous too. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. As you describe it, it has to be a pretty unique job. I hope you keep having fun!
I’ve always enjoyed this movie, and have, like you been a fan since I was a kid. It was a boring Sunday afternoon go to for me!
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Absolutely! I think ‘Ghostbusters’ is the perfect cure-all for any day/situation. Life’s always a little better when you’re watching the Ghostbusters.