Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ghost Busters vs Ghostbusters

Dracula vs Frankenstein, Addams vs Munster, Freddy vs Jason, there have been many head to head horror match-ups. Today I wanna take a quick look at one some people may not be as familiar with...GhostBusters vs Ghostbusters!

In 1986, Saturday morning TV saw the debut of "The Real Ghostbusters", an animated series based on the hit film "Ghostbusters" produced by Columbia Pictures and DIC Animation. That same year another team of spook hunters appeared in syndication called "Filmation's GhostBusters". A lot of kids in my neighborhood thought this was some kind of ripoff...but luckily I knew the truth! I'd been checking out books from the public library about Saturday morning TV. I could tell you all about cartoons, which ones were produced by which animation studio, voice actors, and had decorated my school books with doodles of all kinds of characters! So I knew that this toon was actually based on an older TV that was around long before the film!* But that's not why we're here today...we're here today to take a quick look at the debut issues of First Comics "Filmation's GhostBusters" and Now Comics "The Real Ghostbusters"

"First" things first, lol. "Filmation's GhostBusters" hit the shelves in October of 1986 (cover dated February of 1987), just in time for Halloween. That probably explains why the cover announced it as a "Special Halloween Edition", and the story is entitled "A Halloween Haunting". Jake, Eddie and Tracy the gorilla (aka the GhostBusters) are gettig ready for a Halloween party with their friends Jessica, Futura and Bellfrey the bat.


They get a call on their skelephone from Morton the wizard asking them to come back in time and help him fight Prime Evil (the main villain from the cartoon) who is plotting an attack on Lockheed Castle. 

Jake and Eddie's fathers, the original Ghost Busters, knew Morton so the boys jump in their Ghost Buggy ready to fight some ghouls...but not before we complete an activity page featuring a maze through the ages. 

Maze complete and our heroes arrive in medieval times! A few pages later there's another them make it through the forest by finding witches, ghosts and goblins. Yes, this is clearly a book intended for kids...and it's fun! Prime Evil, aware of the GhostBusters arrival, thanks to a magic vid screen, rallies his minions for an all out assault on Lockheed Castle. Luckily the GhostBusters and Morton (with the help of Jessica and YOU via another activity page) have decoded a powerful spell and are ready for the sinister spooks! As a reward, the heroes get a Halloween party and you, the reader, gets a word search and some tutorials on how to draw the main characters. 

Writer Hilarie Staton and artists Howard Bender and Sal Trapani really nail the tone and look of the Filmation cartoon, and silly as they may seem, the activity pages bring a level of interaction to the story that would make any reader (especially kids) feel like they were part of the adventure.

"Now" lets move on to 1988's "The Real Ghostbusters". A group of time travelers arrive in New York City just in time to see the Ghostbusters (Egon, Ray, Peter and Winston) speed by in Ecto-1. It seems the ghost of Captain Nemo has taken issue with the unauthorized use of his name by "Captain Nemo's Submarina", a sandwich shop.

Nemo's not alone though, he has a a couple ectoplasmic sea-monsters around to do his bidding...but the Ghostbusters have no problem making short order of the terrible trio. The time travelers, watching from a nearby portal, grab the trap the 'busters have just put Nemo in and thank them before disappearing. 

Apparently they need Nemo's ghost to take on someone, or something, called the "Slug". Then, deciding to test just how good the Ghostbusters are place devices in the firehouse, locking each of the boys into their own nightmares. Winston finds himself face to face with a clown and a room full of classic monsters. Peter ends up in a classroom full of werewolves. Ray is surrounded by humanoid, tentacled, aliens, and Egon finds himself alone in an apocalyptic world. Winston manages to wake from his nightmare first, only to find himself staring into the eyes of...the Slug! 

This one was written by James Van Hise, with art by John Tobias and Brian Thomas. The story matches the tone of the cartoon, but the art, while based on the animated series...well, it's not perfect match.

So...two teams of ghost busters, two first issues, and both involving a time travel element. Interesting, huh? They're both fun reads, each pretty true to their source material. First Comics "Filmation's GhostBusters" ended up only running for 4 issues, like the cartoon, quickly eclipsed by the wildly popular series based on the films. Now Comics "The Real Ghostbusters" ran 28 issues, spawned a 3D special, annuals, and a spin-off starring Slimer! That's a lot of ghosts! I like them both, but truth be told...I did prefer "The Real Ghostbusters" cartoon.

*Yup, "Filmation's GhostBusters" was based on a live action TV show from 1975 starring "F-Troop's" Larry Storch and Forrest Tucker called "The Ghost Busters". 

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