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November 10, 2008

Ghostbusters: Ghost Busted

Technically released the same day as IDW's Ghostbusters: The Other Side #1, TokyoPop's graphic novel didn't turn up in my area until a little later. Well, here it is.

I was interested in seeing what would come of this; TokyoPop got it's start (and still does the vast majority of it's business) as a translater of Japanese manga. They released an English version of the Sailor Moon manga back when they were know as Mixx, and back around 2003 or so even released Digimon manga adapting the first three seasons.


The book is a little bigger than the standard manga size, but that's no problem.

The cover: I admit, I liked the "not final art" version that leaked out, featuring Egon with blond hair and Ray with red hair. Ray still very much looks like the animated version. On the other hand...Venkman looks awful. He could be just about anybody.

The book is really divided into three stories.

"Theatre of Pain" is the first story, and it features some nice, surreal moments worthy of the Ghostbusters name. Egon trying to dance. A stage play that includes an F-14 Tomcat. And Venkman chewing the scenery during his stint as "The Di-Rector!!!" The art's a bit loose and messy, but that fits the screwball atmosphere. There's some nice mocking of both Blintzy Jones' very Micheal Bay-esque approach to storytelling ("More explosions!") and the more artsy-fartsy pretentions of the ghost of Francis Frum.

The second part is divided into chapters by different artists, and features the return of Jack Hardemeyer, the mayoral aide from GB2. As is typical, Hardemeyer looks only vaguely like Kurt Fuller, and at times I see perhaps a bit of the RGB version of Hardemeyer from the Now Comics GB2 adaptation.

The enemy pulls the classic "divide and conquer"--Ray is snagged while on a series of wild goose chases and "false alarms". Egon is nabbed just after (apparently) resolving the situation of his old physics professor, Harold Teplitz. And Venkman is nabbed by a ghost posing as a coed wearing nothing but a towel.

Winston gets to save the day here, using some mundane weapondry to fight ghosts who have developed their own version of the proton packs, these designed to hold and trap humans. This is kind of ironic--the title of the book, Ghost Busted, is the same as an RGB episode: "Ghost Busted" featured the brief career of the Crimebusters, who used proton packs designed to trap and hold humans. I wonder if that was a coincidence?

Anyway, it turns out Hardemeyer has an accomplice, but I won't spoil every surprise.

Artistically, the best stuff in this section is Micheal Shelfer, who draws an awesome Janine. Janine, by the way, hits on Egon, and there's no mention of Louis Tully at all in this book.

The last chapter is unrelated to the rest of the book, save for one cameo of Hardemeyer in a soup line at the end. The main story is about a Sumerian fashion nightmare who looks like a glam boot before becoming, as Venkman phrases it in the story, a "fussy tranny". I admit I thought the line about "concubine of Gozer" was a bit gratuitous, though, a bit of "connecting it to something from the movies just to do it even though it adds absolutely nothing".

Like the first story, there's a wonderful screwball sense to the proceedings (it's by the same writer) and some satire of the fashion industry, leading to a surreal climax involving all four Ghostbusters in drag. The art is, in my opinion, the best in the book--Chrissy Delk does the best versions of the characters by not trying as hard as the others to make them resemble the actors. They're not the RGB versions either, but I see their spirits in them; her Janine is also excellant.

I admit, I enjoyed this a lot more than I enjoyed the first issue of The Other Side

--Fritz V. Baugh

October 20, 2008

Ghostbusters: The Other Side #1

Last week, IDW released Ghostbusters: The Other Side #1, first of a mini-series bringing the Ghostbusters back to the comic racks after a three year absence. There's also a new graphic novel by TokyoPop, Ghost Busted, but my shop didn't have that one on release day (October 15)

Well, the good news, it's a new Ghostbusters story, by a company that has a track record for actually putting stuff out. Compare that to the previous licensee, 88MPH Studios, who took an entire year to release the four issues of Ghostbusters: Legion and never did deliver the hardcover compilation that fans ordered and paid for three years ago.

(Oh, heck, rather than repeat some bitter rants here, I will direct you to a post on the Ectozone Message Board)

The art is solid, and the colors are vibrant. But I gotta admit, the dual problems of "likeness rights" and "most fans want them to look like the movie actors" lead to some weird results. The cover, for example (which is not by the interior artist) feature characters that could, to some extent, be just about anybody. Heck, ironically, on the cover Winston looks like no one more than Arsenio Hall.

The interior art delivers a bit more characterization. Venkman looks pretty decent, with a nice unruliness to his hair that helps distinguish him (of course, he spends most of the issue posessed). Winston didn't do much for me. Ray was pretty good, suitably goofball. Egon? I gotta admit, I really don't like the spiked haircut. It just doesn't fit him. It looks like something Janine drug him out to do under protest to try and "make him more hip" or something.

Of course, I'm the person who thinks current Ghostbuster licensees are missing the boat by not dumping the "make them look like the movie actors, but not enough to force us to pay them" bullshit game and just use the far more dynamic character designs from the cartoons, so take what I say on the matter with a grain of salt, I guess.

Story wise, I found myself in a very "1989 after GB2" state of mind, maybe because not one but two RGB episodes ("Partners In Slime" and "The Ghostbusters Live From Al Capone's Tomb") and two issues of the Now RGB comic (Vol.1#4, #7) from 1989 involved ghost gangsters. None of the familiar supporting and secondary characters appear here, or are even mentioned: no Janine. No Slimer. No Louis or Dana. It's just the four Ghostbusters and a bunch of ghost gangsters.

I admit there's a few holes in the continuity, even knowing that (sigh) they're not paying attention to anything from the cartoons. We know Venkman has been kicked out of his body, but there's no reason for Ray and Egon to realize that until after they knock out the posessing entity and Venkman doesn't wake up--over the course of the two movies, Dana, Louis, and even, briefly, Ray himself were posessed, and their spirits didn't depart for the "dark void of dispair".

A few good zingers, though. I laughed out loud when the entity posessing Venkman claimed he was "screamin' like a little girl" and Venkman's ghost retorts "That's a total lie! Everybody knows I sound like a big girl when I scream"

Points for a shocker of an ending, though: Venkman's posessed and his spirit's in Purgatory. And Ray, Winston, and Egon have been shot with more holes than John McCain's economic plan.

Final assessment: Frankly, I didn't get nearly as much of an "Oh, Yeah!" zing out of this one as I did with Legion #1. I think the writers and artists of the earlier project had a much greater sense of familiarity with the property and characters at the outset. But I think The Other Side is still not a bad start, and plan to stick around and see where it goes.

--Fritz V. Baugh

July 28, 2008

It's Coming!

Sorry...couldn't resist...

The Big Announcement at Comic Con is that the rumored released of one of the best cartoons of all time in a proper format is not a rumor anymore: Time-Life will be releasing The Real Ghostbusters in it's entirety in a 28 disk set this fall!

The price is $179.99, but can be pre-ordered from GB Fans for only $161.99. So far this release is for the United States only.

Pretty steep when you don't have an income, but dammit...this is the only thing that has come down the pike in the last year that has me genuinely excited. I feel so-so so far about the Tokyopop manga. I get headaches when I read about Aykroyd and Ramis's Marty Stu factory video game. But this has me pumped

--Fritz V. Baugh

July 7, 2008
Way back in the early days of 2004, Jeremy Hicks of the Ghostbusters West Coast came up with an idea: his last name, Hicks, derives from "Hyksos"--the ancient people who once conquered Egypt and, in the Ghostbusters Universe, are mentioned as worshippers of Gozer. So what would happen if Jeremy Hicks was posessessed by Vinz Clortho?

With the movie's twentieth anniversary looming, it snowballed into the inspiration for a massive event crossing over the original Ghostbusters, the Extreme Ghostbusters, the Ghostbusters West Coast, the Ghostbusters UK, Ghostbusters Nightsquad, and Ghostbusters: Arcane Divisio; a crisis large enough to justify that big a roster and celebrate the movie's twentieth anniversary.

Chronicles of Gozer

Despite a strong start, the development started to plod along; it took a year to release five chapters, and the sixth was missing in action for much longer.

Well, today, the wait is over.

It may not be worth the three years it took, but on the other hand, I think it's worth a read. It's a story we took our time to make sure it was right instead of crapping it out just to get it done.

Today, I announce the one hundredth story in the Ectozone fan fiction saga.

Ghostbusters: Chronicles of Gozer Book Five: Exaltation
By Various Authors; Edited by Vincent Belmont
June 2004--Timeline Year Twenty Two
The epic conclusion. Ghostbusters International, the Order of Hermes, and the Garou nation stand united against the impending return of Gozer. An alliance the likes of which the world has not seen in untold ages. Secrets are revealed, enemies become allies, and desperate plans are made as science, magic, primal might, and faith march against the ancient horror of the Shapeless Destructor. But is it enough?

One of those "secrets", by the way, is one mystery that has been lingering since the release of "Future Shocks" five years ago: the identity of Eric Stantz's mother, the woman that Ray Stantz married. Now you will know...

And that's not the only thing.

But you'll have to read it for yourself.

--Fritz V. Baugh

May 13, 2008
It was five years ago today that I took the step of opening the very first version of the Ectozone ("Ectozone 1.0") to put online the Ghostbusters Omnibus Timeline.

I'm not going to get as nostalgic as my February 3rd posts, but out of that tiny, crude html acorn has grown...well, maybe a steady twig or two. A second timeline, almost a hundred fan fictions, it's very own message board, and more.

I started at Angelfire, and moved to GoDaddy in August of 2007, mostly to make some more options available. I guess it's only appropriate that today we take another small step. You probably noticed the green, and the new banner at the top of the page, and maybe even some of the new title logos on the fan's all part of what I perhaps inevitably call "Ectozone 4.0"

Just like Ectozone 2.0 was brought about by tables in html, and Ectozone 3.0 was brought about by stylesheets. Ectozone 4.0 continues the process begun when I switched servers. The main pages now end in the .php extension to allow the use of server side scripting such as includes statements--this news item, for example, actually exists as a brief .html file in the /news/ menu; both the main page (index.php) and the new news page (/news/index.php) just simply call it up with an includes statement. It mean I only have to have it on the server once, and the pages that need it both call up the same text.

(And don't worry much if you have the old .html pages bookmarked. One other thing I can use now is .htaccess pages, which should redirect the old .html urls to the new .php pages.)

Back in March, for St. Patrick's Day, I uploaded a green stylesheet to the Ectozone message board, intending it to be a one-day nod to that particular holiday. The move proved so popular that when I floated the possibility of moving to a new "Ecto Green" look as a new default for the site, the idea was strongly embraced by the posters on that board.

Furthermore, as I've gained some knowledge of the PhpBB3 software, I realized I would be able to moadify the Subsilver2 pages to create a modified look to the board that makes it and the main site look more alike than ever. I uploaded some of this revision to "Ecto Red" a month or so back, but...again, I'm really pleased with the results.

And perhaps, take the time to check out, the home page of the Ghostbusters West Coast. It has also been upgraded to "Ectozone 4.0", and features a new banner designed by Mjollnir.

It's been a great five years--but I ain't done yet!

--Fritz V. Baugh

March 21, 2008
If you're reading this, you're seeing the news item created for the Beta of Ectozone 4.0. This page might not look terribly different--sure, it's green, and there's a new logo at the top of every page, but the real trick is "under the hood" as it will.

Just like Ectozone 2.0 was brought about by tables in html, and Ectozone 3.0 was brought about by stylesheets. Ectozone 4.0 will be the culmination of the potential brought about by the hosting plan I switched it to in July 2007. The main pages will end in the .php extension to allow the use of server side scripting such as includes statements--this news item, for example, actually exists as a brief .html file in the /news/ menu; both the main page (index.php) and the new news page (/news/index.php) just simply call it up with an includes statement. It mean I only have to have it on the server once, and the pages that need it both call up the same text.

It will really be special once the fan fic pages are recoded: instead of having two huge pages listing identical blocks of text in different orders...they'll just be a couple of .php pages listing includes statements in different order.

I'm also working on some hacks to the message board software--the end result will be that the board and the main site will look more alike than they ever have.

--Fritz V. Baugh

January 1, 2008
Happy New Year

Well, I hope, anyway. It's go a lot of potential going for it--chief among them the election of George Bush's successor (assuming Vice President Darth Haliburton doesn't fake up some excuse to declare martial law and cancel the election...but I'm trying to be hopeful here).


On tap for 2008:

Chronicles of Gozer. I know I said this last year, but this time I mean it--I will write no other Ghostbusters stories until I get this sent to Vincent. I've released ninety nine fan fictions thus far; this would be a great candidate for #100.

Artwork: Up in the Art section is a redesigned page depicting the children of the Ghostbusters, including updated depictions of most of them and the debut of present day versions of future Ghostbusters TJ Anderson and Marie Lupin. Check it out. I hope to add to it later.

The Fact List. I actually uploaded some updates a few weeks ago, but didn't say anything to see if anyone noticed. They didn't. Anyway, I picked through the 88MPH comics and iBooks novel and added some stuff from those--appropriate pages have been updated with seperate sections for those facts, as the don't always blend into the GBOT continuity.

The Video Game I'm still not excited about this. I had a much longer rant I almost put up (and possibly still will in the Video Game forum ). Having friends I've known for years saying they'll "gloat" if characterization clusterf***s from the retread movie sequel are continued and the snotty attitude from many of "Well, it's about time we found out what really happened" like there hadn't been a single Ghostbusters story written by anyone anywhere since 1989 don't help.

Anyway, enough about that--like I said, I'm trying to be hopeful.

Here's to a good 2008.

--Fritz V. Baugh

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