When East Meets Ghost - More on Tokyopop's Ghostbusters
by Benjamin Ong Pang Kean
Date: 06 August 2008 Time: 06:37 PM ET
Tpop Brings Ghostbusters to Manga
So yeah, who ya really gonna call?Last weekend at the Comic-Con International in San Diego, IDW Publishing unveiled a new Ghostbusters comic book series and we spoke with writer Keith Champagne about it. This follows TokyoPop’s announcement at Anime Expo early this month that they are producing a manga version of the Ghostbusters.
Today, we caught up with the one of the two writers and three of the four artists as well as the cover artist about their version of Peter, Ray, Egon, Winston and the gang. Newsarama: Why does the Ghostbusters appeal to you? Matt Yamashita: It's a classic story (classic franchise?) and, for my generation, a pop culture icon. One of those movies that defined "funny" for our generation. Also, really memorable characters with distinct voices. They were nerdy characters, but they were also very funny, warm guys who had a kind of genuine bond - that's something that I think we relate to. Hanzo Steinbach: Comedy and giant Marshmallow Men. Really it's the whole comedy aspect of it that got to me. They make busting ghosts, which in itself can be terrifying, fun! And the theme song, which is legendary. Maximo V. Lorenzo: Probably the same way it appeals to a lot of other people, Ghostbusters takes a somewhat realistic setting, a world we all live in, and add the exciting twist of the paranormal. Then the balance of the characters with their own unique personalities and watching them function as one is really cool. Not to mention all the gadgets, ghosts, slime, and everything else that makes Ghostbusters so memorable. I grew up on Ghostbusters! Chrissy Delk: I've always loved the Ghostbusters. It's full of great characters, humor, and the supernatural. What's not to love? Michael Shelfer: I grew up on Ghostbusters so this project is a real treat for me. It's nice to be a part of something that gave you such happiness as a child. We all wanted to be Ghostbusters growing up. Oh, to have a proton pack! I would have accidentally burnt my house down. Newsarama: Matt, can you give a brief description of some of the stories you have written for this book? MY: Well, the stories all focus on life in New York. So, we've got the team battling the ghost of a dead theater critic. There's also a story about a possessed fashion designer and her line of hunted haute couture. You've got a great mix of old and new. We've tried to capture the characters and the essence of the story, but the ideas are funny and fresh. Same with the artwork. And it's a great fit for manga because you have these supernatural forces and entities but you also need clever characterization and dialogue. TokyoPop has experience blending these elements effectively because many of our titles have that same mix of the unreal and the everyday. I guess TokyoPop is trying to capture the essence by hiring me and Nate [Johnson], who have the same kind of Second City sketch comedy background as Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis. NRAMA: For the rest of you, why do you think that Ghostbusters in manga form would appeal to today's readers? HS: Most of the younger generations of readers are into manga, it's just a simpler format to read through a story, slow or fast. Unfortunately for me, I couldn't find the time to work on the Ghostbusters manga, but the artists working on the book are doing a great job at capturing the essence of Ghostbusters, which is the Ghostbusters Team. The characters are true to their movie counter parts, which is really cool. I had the privilege to draw the cover though. MVL: I'd like to meet the person Ghostbusters doesn't appeal to! I mean everyone loves them, then manga style comics is just a different medium, it has its own value just like American comics, cartoons, and toys have theirs. Manga style comics have a little more ferocity and habit of making you feel like you're in the story, with the characters, instead of watching the characters... I think it'll be an exciting new way to look at the Ghostbusters. CD: I think the mix of action, comedy, the characters and ghosts is a fantastic one, and it should really appeal to today's readers. The script by Matt Yamashita is amazing. It makes me laugh on a daily basis. In the middle of inking, I'm prone to giggling. It's not a good mix for getting anything done, but I suspect it'll make for a good read. MS: I would hope that Ghostbusters in any form would appeal to fans of the franchise. The OEL factor should appeal to manga fans. There's a lot of good OEL manga out there and this gives us a great chance to show what we're made of as domestic manga-ka. I'm hoping that Ghostbusters will help people see that there's a vareiety of good manga being produced right here in America. NRAMA: And how are you planning to capture the essence of the Ghostbusters in the manga? MVL: Well, gestures and expressions are what I'm concentrating on... As the brains of the group, I've tried to keep Egon a little stiffer and more reserved than the others, Peter is out going and his mouth is almost always open as the mouth of the Ghostbusters, Ray always looks excited and innocent as the heart of the group, and Winston looks observant and eagle eyed, as the eyes of the Ghostbusters... Of course we can't make them look like the comic, cartoon, or movie versions, so I was inspired by all of them but the defining factor of how I drew them all in my style was their personalities. I feel like I've conveyed them to the best of my ability. CD: There's great source material, so I started there, watching the movies and just drawing up a storm. Of course, we can't actually use the likenesses of the actors, but I still want to effectively represent the characters. I did a stack of quick sketches from the movies, just trying to visually get down everything I could. After that, I set that work aside, and I went with my instincts. That's been the way I've handled the entire project. Just diving straight in and having as much fun as possible. MS: Since we don't have likeness rights for the actors we, as artists have to convey the attitudes and mannerisms of the individual characters. It's a challenge to be sure but all of the artists on this project are pretty big fans of the Ghostbusters and we're trying to be true to the property. I hope our stories convey that.