Over the years, there have been several comic series based on the Ghostbusters
franchise, mostly based on the Real Ghostbusters
cartoon. In 2008, IDW Publishing
acquired the comic book rights to the franchise.
After some miniseries and one-shots with different creative teams, a full series began in 2011 which picks up a few years after the second Ghostbusters
movie, sometime after Ghostbusters: The Video Game
. The first issue opens with Dr. Raymond Stantz having a nightmare that may prove prophetic...
This series ran from September 2011 through December 2012 for 16 issues. It returned as The New Ghostbusters
for a 20-issue run from February 2013 through September 2014. Currently there is no ongoing series, but IDW's take on the Ghostbusters are currently in a crossover with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
in a miniseries that began in 2014.
Written by Erik Burnham, and illustrated by Dan Schoening, the series are littered with plenty of callbacks for long-time fans of the franchise to spot. The comics and their volume collections often feature supplementary material, such as the P.C.O.C. pages by Tristan Jones. Some issues of the comic also have backup stories set in the continuity of The Real Ghostbusters
The series provide examples of:
- Actor Allusion: All over the damn place. In the first issue alone we have Ray being visited by the ghost of Joliet Jake and Peter talking about golf.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Inverted by Winston in the first issue of "The New Ghostbusters":
Winston: Y'all invented a whole new technology, outsmarted Sumerian deities, and managed to never once try to seriously kill Pete here... Those are some big achievements, and it's time to top yourselves, guys.
- Art Shift: In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters, the two teams live on alternate Earths and are illustrated by their respective artists from their series. When one team crosses over to the other's world, they're drawn in that world's style.
- Bears Are Bad News: The boys have to deal with a possessed bear (specifically, the Wall Street bear statue in NYC) that's running through Times Square.
- Berserk Button: Don't deprive Egon of junk food. "I told you not to eat the rest of his twinkies. If he blows something up, it's on you."
- Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts: During the "Haunted America" arc, there's a multi-issue side story where Peter picks up a young woman named Laura whose car was totaled by a haunted 18-wheeler that's been terrorizing a certain non-New York local road. He captures the ghost trucker and drops Laura off at her house, though she disappears without getting out of the car. And when he goes to her house, her elderly mother says that Laura was killed in an accident on that road twenty years earlier. Then again, the ending was essentially spoiled already by the story's title, "Who Killed Laura Parr?".
- Big Applesauce: Like the movies.
- Bittersweet Ending: The world is safe at the end of the Series Finale...only because Winston kills himself as a sacrifice to Tiamat. Then Tiamat decides that's "too easy," brings him back to life, almost kills his wife Tiyah, but then gets an even better (to her) idea. She makes Tiyah, and the entire world - except Winston, forget they were ever married!
- Broad Strokes: While the movies are the main basis of this continuity, the events of the 2009 video game which had different versions for different consoles and some stuff from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon are also part of the backstory.
- Canon Welding:
- The different versions of the Rookie from the different versions of the 2009 video game are all acknowledged as existing in the comics, though the realistic version's Rookie (given the name Bryan Welsh) is the only one who gets more than a passing mention.
- Kylie Griffin from Extreme Ghostbusters is employed at Ray's Occult Books and later becomes part of the "New Ghostbusters" team.
- Child Hater: Ron Alexander, who throws chairs at elementary school kids when a school appearance goes poorly.
- Crossover: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters, running from October 2014 to January 2015.
- Cross Through: 2011's Infestation was one between Covert Vampiric Operations, Zombies vs. Robots, Transformers, G.I. Joe, the Star Trek Expanded Universe (specifically, the Original Series), Ghostbusters, and Pocket Dog Comics. The CVO team was hunting the zombies through various universes, where they were attempting to gain the powers of each universe via assimilation. IDW used this as the introduction to their Ghostbusters comics.
- Cryptic Conversation: The ghost that speaks to Ray in his dreams, but only when he's warning Ray that something bad is about to happen. "The Third is coming."
- Deadpan Snarker: Drs. Peter Venkman and Egon Spengler, as usual.
- Development Gag: A guide who helps Ray through his dreams bears a resemblance to John Belushi (specifically, in The Blues Brothers), who would have been in the films, had it not been for his untimely death.
- The rival ghost removal team is called the "Ghost Smashers", the original name for the film.
- Dope Slap: Peter gives one to Ray in the third issue of the "Haunted America" arc:
Peter: And how did you know telling the aliens they weren't aliens would work, Ray?
Ray: That? Oh, I didn't. I just guessed.
- And Egon gives a rather ironic one to Peter in the first issue of "The New Ghostbusters" after all four of them have been kidnapped and sent into limbo:
Peter: And the first person to make a "Peoplebuster" comment gets a whack to the back of the—
- In issue 4 of "Mass Hysteria", Peter gives one to Ron after he says "Get her!" twice while the Ghostbusters are blasting Tiamat and she knocks them back with ease.
Peter: There's a reason we never say "Get her!"
- Dream Sequence: The opening of the first issue. It may not seem too suspicious that the Ghostbusters are on a talk show hosted by Janine, but the minute Gozer stands up in the middle of the audience (in the form "he" was first seen in) and raises her hand, it's far too surreal to be believed.
- Fantastic Racism: Averted when Egon tries using a gris-gris bag from New Orleans to save Janine's soul from Viking ghosts and one of said ghosts accuses Egon of using magic against them.
Egon: I didn't use magic, I was merely concerned that an evil spirit may have bewitched the woman and brought forth a protective talisman as a precaution.
Viking Ghost: Do we look like evil spirits to you, Sorcerer?
Egon: That would be profiling.
- Foreshadowing: While researching the park case in issue 6, Kylie gets a fortune cookie fortune that reads, "Much happens to the west." Three issues later, the "Haunted America" arc begins, where the Ghostbusters travel westward across America to deal with urgent out-of-state cases.
- Friend to All Children: Winston. He does free investigations and captures for them frequently, which exasperates Venkman.
- Hoist by His Own Petard:
- Ron Alexander competes with the Ghostbusters by claiming his Ghostsmashers will destroy ghosts, thus removing the need to spend time and money on containment equipment. He honestly believes he's improved on the Ghostbusters' tech to do this, but it's the end of the Ghostsmashers, as well as the start of Ron's jail sentence, when it not only doesn't work but leads to a major catastrophe.
- Bryan Welsh finds his "Rookie" name tag is a great way of handling angry clients. Ron later finds that Bryan's "Rookie" nametag is a great excuse to pretend he's the boss in front of clients.
- Later loops around to bite Ron back when Bryan, tired of Ron's attitude, goes on a rant about it during a bust... comically unaware that Ron has been swallowed whole by the ghost.
- Idulnas eventually possesses Janoz Poha and uses him as a means of summoning the demonic Collectors to send the Ghostbusters into limbo. Much later, Kylie eventually drives a wedge between the two and Janoz changes the painted spell so that the Collectors abduct Idulnas instead.
- Hulk Speak: Egon, in response to Venkman's request to use small words:
Egon: Energy big. Make ghosts on steroids. Me and Ray am have to adjust packs.
Thank you, Professor Tarzan
- Ink-Suit Actor: The characters' likenesses are patterned after their actors from the original movies, unlike in The Real Ghostbusters, with the exception of Janine who takes more after her cartoon design. Dana Barrett and Louis Tully also appear in the second series with the likenesses of Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis. This is also exploited for new characters who are modeled after actors associated with the Ghostbusters cast:
- Ron Alexander is modeled after Chevy Chase, specifically his appearance in Caddyshack, which also starred Bill Murray. Chase was part of the original Saturday Night Live cast together with Dan Aykroyd and when he left he was replaced by Murray. The series presents Ron and Peter as rivals.
- When Ron starts the rival Ghost Smashers, two of the members are modeled after Donna Dixon and Vanessa Angel who appeared alongside Chase and Aykroyd in Spies Like Us. (The fourth member is based on Halle Berry.)
- Ray is visited by John Belushi's ghost by way of The Blues Brothers, which starred Aykroyd and Belushi.
- Loophole Abuse: How the Chicago franchise finally gets another pair of hands - Bryan can't hire locally, so he's sent Ron, who is employed by the main office in New York.
- The Men in Black: FBI Agent Melanie Ortiz and her partner play this role when the Ghostbusters investigate alien ghosts in Roswell. To everyone's disbelief, she hits it off with Peter. Later she becomes a member of the "New Ghostbusters".
- Mythology Gag: When Bryan and Ron, the Chicago branch, do a school visit, the kids are not impressed; they were expecting the real Ghostbusters.
- Janine briefly dates a man who looks exactly like Egon's cartoon counterpart (specifically the older version from Extreme Ghostbusters). Egon calls her out on picking men who resemble him to make him jealous.
- The fourth issue of "The New Ghostbusters" has a subtle nod to Louis Tully from the movies (who eventually appears in person) combined with a Shout-Out to Scooby-Doo when Egon says the group has to split up:
Ron Alexander: Do you guys also have a talking dog?
Ray: Not since our accountant left New York.
- The comic also contains numerous references to Dan Aykroyd's original script and other cut content, including:
- The man with the dogs whose room Ray bursts into as he tries to trap Stay Puft is the original version of Louis Tully as played by John Candy.
- The name of rival ghost hunting company, Ghost Smashers, was originally a working title for the first film.
- The ghost in Ray's dreams is based on John Belushi, who was supposed to play Peter Venkman before he died.
- Despite the fact that The Real Ghostbusters takes place in a separate continuity, Dan Schoening sneaks in a lot of these:
- Ray's prophetic dream features Buster the Ex-Tooth Fairy (Episode 206: "Buster The Ghost") and Shanna O' Callahan (Episode 233: "Banshee Bake A Cherry Pie") in the audience.
- Ray sleeps with a dog plushie (Episode 106: "The Boogieman Cometh").
- The toilet ghost in Jim Silver's bathroom was from the official toyline, although it never actually appeared in the show.
- When the Ecto-1 needs to have its tire changed on the bridge, there's a troll on one of the wires in the background (Episode 105: "Troll Bridge").
- When the bear statue is rampaging through Times Square, there's another picture of Shanna, an ad for a Brand X version of Hi-C Ecto-Cooler, an ad promoting a performance of "Ride of The Valkyries" (Episode 231: "A Fright At The Opera"), and two advertisements for Jim Venkman's various scams, including the unmeltable black ice with Hob Anagarak inside (Episode 232: "Cold Cash and Hot Water").
- The ghost containment unit is the same design as in the cartoon, although Ray's new mega-trap has the design from the sequel series, Extreme Ghostbusters.
- Noodle Incident: "C'mon, Eeg. Pop caught me up. He told me what you do for a living now. . . you tryin' to tell me this is the weirdest thing you ever came across?" "No, that involved an emu."
- Obstructive Bureaucrat:
- Walter "Dickless" Peck is still this. The kicker: he finally acknowledges that the Ghostbusters are not frauds, and outright states that he simply can't stand them. One of his conditions for not confiscating all the equipment and shutting down the business after the Ghostbusters go missing is that Janine and her replacement team can't take "time off" to search for them, they have to keep the business running as normal while trying to figure out what happened, which is already enough of a challenge for amateurs trying to fill the Ghostbusters' shoes. Another condition is that they have to comply with a marketing consultant he soon hires to make their image easily sellable, so the city can make money off of merchandising, special events, etc.
- The Chicago franchise has to deal with one that would make Peck proud: the franchise, in fact, consists solely of Bryan Welsh for awhile because he's deliberately waylaid with absurd regulations preventing him from hiring anyone. He has to improvise whenever he gets a job he can't do solo. This also means he's way too busy to leave Chicago and help Janine when the Ghostbusters go missing.
Bryan: I'm not allowed to hire locally until there's a training program, which I'm not allowed to start. [...] I got a couple temps out of Minnesota, for when something big comes up. And I hire some schmucks to sit around as bait every once in a while when I need that, so I make do.
- The One Guy: Ron Alexander is the only guy in both the Ghost Smashers and New Ghostbusters.
- OOC is Serious Business: In the third issue of "Mass Hysteria", Peter takes a phone call for help while discussing the current problem with Walter Peck and immediately leaves via motorcycle without a word, much to Peck's surprise. Considering the caller was Dana Barrett, it's understandable.
Walter Peck: Ms. Melnitz, after taking that phone call, Peter Venkman ran out of here without a single smart-assed remark. That kind of character inconsistency is, in my experience, the reddest of red flags.
- Perky Goth: The comic's version of Kylie.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Jim Silver of F.Z. Foods, pre-possession.
- Sassy Secretary: As always, Janine Melnitz.
- Shout-Out: Among others:
- After a possessed giant monkey statue is blasted in half and both halves get back up:
That's not an indian curse - it's the friggin' Black Knight
Peter: (to the phantom of the park) We come loaded for bear.
Ray: And monkeys.
Egon: And horses.
Peter: Oh, my.
- After Egon uses a boson dart to finish off a possessed bear statue, Peter says, "Well, I think we found that kaboom."
- The same bear statue appears to flip K.I.T.T. in a news broadcast after it is first animated.
- A clown at a haunted amusement park is identical to Pennywise.
- The A-Team pass the 'Busters on the bridge, and B.A. Barracus yells "You suck!" at them.
- Egon notes that a paranormal phenomenon that can make buildings Bigger on the Inside is referred to as "the TARDIS effect".
- Two of Nick Runge's covers for Volume 1 are homages to Abbey Road and Bohemian Rhapsody.
- One of Tristan Jones' covers for Volume 1 is an homage to the poster for Army of Darkness, with Egon as Ash, and Janine clinging to his leg.
- One of Erik Burnham's covers for Volume 1 is a reference to the opening credits for The Brady Bunch, with the boys, Janine, Slimer, Walter, Idulnas, and the Logo Ghost.
- In September 2013, several of IDW's comics used "animation" as a cover theme, so Dan Schoening drew The Real Ghostbusters in a pose from the opening credits of ''Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!"
- In May 2014, the boys, Janine, Slimer, and Stay-Puft were drawn as characters from Angry Birds on the cover of that month's comic, to celebrate the release of IDW's first issue of the licensed Angry Birds comic.
- Start My Own: Ron Alexander starts his own "Ghost Smashers" team solely for financial gain, building his own gear from stolen specs. When a mission goes wrong, he's put in jail, but later he's employed by New York as part of the "New Ghostbusters" team when the originals go missing.
- Stripperiffic: Invoked, but downplayed. The marketing consultant doesn't deny that the new (mandated) outfit for the female Ghostbusters is to make then "look better," but the actual outfits are basically the coverall tops with really short shorts. Janine initially assumes they're costumes for photo shoots... and then it turns out the consultant has had the coveralls sent to storage so they have to wear the short shorts as uniforms. Naturally, Janine pointedly makes a good "argument" on why such a design for her, FBI Special Agent Melanie Ortiz, and Ray's assistant/employee Kyle Griffith is impractical for their line of work after coming back from an unexpected bust.
- Technobabble: Named by Venkman, although Egon was using jargon with actual meaning at the time.
- The Bad Guy Wins: How the series ends. Luckily for the world, Tiamat was only interested in thoroughly kicking her brother Gozer's ass (she does), and checking out/screwing with the humans that did it themselves once before (does she ever - see the Bittersweet Ending entry above). When all is said and done, she just...leaves, satisfied with her work.
- Unsatisfiable Customer: Bryan gets enough of these to warrant a mention; he deals with them by never replacing his "Rookie" nametag; irate customers see it and stop yelling at him so they can call and yell at his non-existent supervisor.
- We Help the Helpless: Janosz's nephew can't pay the fee for a de-ghosting, so the kid's mother sends along an entire box of her delicious baklava instead. Winston gratefully accepts.
- Yanks with Tanks: Winston used to be in the military, which was Dan Aykroyd's original plan before the first movie emphasized his "Average Joe"-ness.