Ghostbusters #1

A comic review article by: Matthew Z. Rios
FINALLY! I found a comic that I love this week! Actually, I've read tons of great books, but based on the rest of my (forthcoming) reviews this weekend, you wouldn't think so. The truth of the matter is, all of these DiCgraces happening in my comic books have kind of got me in a funk. Yes, I know that Superman and Booster Gold aren't actually real... but in a way, are they not they real to us loyal readers? Right now, I just wanna pick up a book and simply have fun with it -- to enjoy previously created characters I know and love. And just as I was about to reach a grief-stricken demise, a saving grace came to my aid in the form of Ghostbusters # 1.

Local San Diego comic publisher IDW (represent!) has been trying their hand at Ghostbusters comics for a few years now, mostly in the form of mini-series and holiday one-shots. While it was nice to see my favorite franchise seeing the light of day again, infrequent issues weren't enough for ravenous fans like me. Thankfully, a monthly series is just what we needed.

The most noticeable thing from this ongoing is the more cartoony art style that you will either like or not like. I love it. But at first I didn't. And then I did. And then I wrote some choppy sentences. Upon first look, I wasn't sold on Dan Schoening's style. I wanted something a little more detailed. Yet, after a mere four panels, I totally dug it. One of the biggest problems with licensed properties is making sure that you accurately portray classic icons as everyone remembers them. Some of the boys are easier to portray; put glasses on a white guy and it's Egon. Draw a black guy and you've got Winston. But then Peter and Ray start to blend together and Janine's hair is always changing. But whether you like them or not, caricatures are really the best way to summarize the details and attributes of someone. For figures this well known and memorable, using a more simple style is the best way to go. Now, characters truly stand out and I can finally tell who Ray is and when he's talking. Besides character recognition, Shoening's wonderful art style shines in so many ways; the great technical details, the creepy ghost textures, and visually engrossing backgrounds. The world Dan Schoening presents to us is illustrious, delectable and engrossing.

A comic isn't a comic without some words, and writer Erik Burnham's talents really shine. Through my time in nerddom, I've read some lame adaptations where the only aspect of a character that's present is their name... and nothing else. More often than not, franchise characters are treated as simple means to and end: you need a joke.. throw in this guy, or that one, or whatever -- the fans'll buy it. This first issue thankfully does not follow this lame trend. Peter is funny because he's supposed to be. Ray is kind, Egon is weird, and Winston is perfectly Winston. For the first time in a long time, I'm finally experiencing the characters I've grown accustomed to in the movies and '80s cartoons.

In order for this to happen, it's critical that the writer has a knowledge of the universe. This issue's got the good ol' fashioned nods to previous icons that you want, like Stay Puft and Slimer. The book is also in proper movie continuity, taking place some time after Ghostbusters II. Yet there is a new mythos being slowly included; new ghosts, new problems, and new stories. Hopefully the recycling of Gozer's name will make way for wonderful new situations.

Besides all this, one of the biggest factors is the inclusion of humor. No matter how you slice it, Ghostbusters is primarily a comedy (and one of the greatest at that). So you must have a good thread of laughs to keep it afloat. There are some really funny sections in the pages and panels of this comic. Maybe they don't come in a rapid machine gun style, but nonetheless, the overall tone is both mysterious and light-hearted.

In addition to the main story, there is a backup completely done by artist/writer Tristan Jones. The story follows pain-in-the-ass Walter Peck, as he begins to helm the "Paranormal Contracts Oversight Commission," which I'm sure will also become a pain in the ass in and of itself. So not only do we have a straightforward Ghostbusters story, but another fun way of looking into these lives and stories. It's a short piece, so I'll review it just as shortly: great, moody art, wonderfully ominous feel. In addition, there are several pages of artist sketches for characters and ghouls. So if you're not sold yet, these future ghoulish prospects should wrangle you in.

Well, there it is: the Ghostbusters are back and ready to believe you. Or, uh... provide you with entertaining books. This is what comics are supposed to be about: loyalty to the material while jumpstarting new energy into their meaty, yet unexplored world. Sure, nothing will ever be like the movies or like the cartoon, but isn't it great to see their lives continuing in a well-crafted new medium? I for one cannot wait for future issues. So until then, you can find me on the floor of my room, tweaking my homemade slime blower, just in time for Halloween.

Matthew Z. Rios is an intrepid horror movie fan, a constant comic book connoisseur, steampunk enthusiast and collector of toys of any type. He has been in love with comics ever since the tender age of 4, when his dad gave him a copy of the Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told on Christmas and changed his life forever.

In college, Matthew majored in English and tossed in a screenwriting minor at the last second, which became his real passion. One day he hopes to write comic books, short features, or any type of creative media. Matthew is an active member in the tiki scene, which revolves around tropical drinks (the Zombie being his favorite). His favorite fictional/unobtainable crushes include Bettie Paige and She Hulk. On occasion, after several drinks, Matthew Z. Rios talks about himself in the third person. Matthew Rios was not drunk when he wrote this bio.

Matthew is also a writer for
Tiki Magazine and can be Facebooked. His infrequent and begrudging Tweets can be found at @tikisideburns.

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