By Leroy Douresseaux
Oct 14, 2008 - 14:02
Comedy, Rated “T” for “Teen-Age 13+"
In 1984, Colombia Pictures released what would become, at the time, the most successful comedy in terms of box office gross, Ghost Busters. Grossing over $200 million in North American box office, Ghost Busters would spawn a sequel (Ghostbusters II), merchandise, and eventually comic book adaptations. First, there were two comics book series, one produced by defunct publisher, NOW Comics, and another produced by Marvel UK. A few years ago, a Canadian publisher, 88MPH, released Ghostbusters: Legion, a four-issue miniseries that was apparently a follow up to and update of the original film.
Ghostbusters: Ghost Busted brings the franchise to comics again as an OEL manga (original English language) from TOKYOPOP. Six stories – four of them connected – bring readers up to date on the Ghostbusters since they last saved New York in the 1980s heyday. Raymond “Ray” Stanz (played by Dan Aykroyd in the films), Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) have remained busy in a city filled with restless ghosts and evil spirits.
Their cases include a Broadway production troubled by spiritual sabotage. Ray learns that ghost busting is sometimes tedious, sometimes a boring job. Egon has a touching reunion with the professor who failed him. Winston finds himself alone and fighting for everything for which the Ghost Busters stand. Any maybe the boys finally have an archnemesis.
THE LOWDOWN: The one thing that really stood out to me about this licensing project is how amateur the art is. Hell, there are a few pages in which the art is even deplorable. Some of the art in Ghostbusters: Ghost Busted is the kind of material that would be just fine in amateur publications, photocopied mini-comics, and self-published efforts. Sometimes, I wonder if publishers think that OEL manga means semi-skilled illustrators drawing in a cartoony style. Looking at this, I can see why some people are so sensitive about calling an American produced-comic book “manga,” because so much of American manga art doesn’t come anywhere close to the kind of work produced by Japanese manga-ka and their staffs. Here, it’s not so much the storytelling, as it is the poor draftsmanship and composition.
On the other hand, Ghostbusters: Ghost Busted’s two writers, Nathan Johnson and Matt Yamashita, seem to have a firm grasp on Ghostbusters’ comic sensibilities, setting, concepts, and characters. Their stories come across as if the two writers have been playing in Ghostbusters’ mythology for quite a while. I had a good time reading this story; in fact, once I got into what Johnson and Yamashita were doing, I didn’t stop until I was finished this entire book. Matt Yamashita’s “The Devil Wears Nada” captures the spirit of the original films, and just happens to be the best drawn tale here by far (with art by Chrissy Delk).
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Since Ghostbusters: Ghost Busted is a mixed bag – fun stories with mediocre art – only the hardcore Ghostbusters fans will want this volume.