Tag Archives: Ghostbusters

Astonishing Art: Pop Culture Evolutions by Jeff Victor

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

As I’ve said before, I’m not normally into cutesy stuff. But Jeff Victor’s “Evolutions” series grabbed me.

Actually, cutesy is the wrong word. Cartoony would be a more accurate description. But the first work of Victor’s I saw was his “Pop Culture Evolutions” tribute to Leonardo of the TMNT. That one definitely has a cuteness to it, right?

It’s always fun to look back at the different variations of characters. Different looks, different incarnations over time, etc. Usually the longer they’ve been around, the more interesting it is. The Ninja Turtles are a great example, obviously. But you’ve also got characters like the Joker and Wonder Woman, movie monsters like the Xenomorphs, etc. Sometimes it’s even more fun with actors, and the wide array of personalities they’ve had to inhabit during their careers. Musicians have to evolve too. Few have evolved like Michael Jackson, of course…

Either way, Victor’s art is a lot of fun. He also does a lot beyond the Pop Culture Evolutions series. I’d definitely recommend checking out his official site, as well as his Instagram and Facebook pages.

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Dan Schoening Easter Egg Hunt: John Candy and the Rottweilers

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Before Little Shop of Horrors, Spaceballs, or Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Rick Moranis pestered Dana Barrett and became the Keymaster in Ghostbusters. After more than 30 years, his performance still makes us laugh. (“Yes, have some!”)

But the Louis Tully character could have been very different. Legend has it that Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis originally wanted Louis to be played by none other than John Candy.

In the pages of Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History, producer Joe Medjuck explains that the character was originally supposed to be more flamboyant, much like Candy’s SCTV character Johnny LaRue. But seemingly not wanting to go that route, Candy suggested something that in hindsight seems downright bizarre: Giving Louis a thick German accent and two pet rottweilers.

Decades later, Erik Burnham, Dan Schoening, Luis Delgado, and the IDW Ghostbusters crew gave us a hell of a “What if?” moment in the pages of Ghostbusters #4.

Naturally, the first arc in the series used a lot of familiar elements from the movies. Case in point, in issue #4 we once again find ourselves at 55 Central Park West, as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man stomps through the city. Ray races through the building, frantically trying to get in position to deploy the “megatrap.”

Ray kicks down the door to room 2206 (Dana’s old apartment), and who does he find but a portly German fellow with two pet rottweilers and a very familiar face.

While you can’t take anything away from Erik Burnham’s script, Luis Delgado’s colors, or anything else the IDW team brought to the table, Dan Schoening was really the star of this page. One of the things that sets his take on the Ghostbusters apart from everyone else’s is his distinct style. It’s obviously cartoony. But he incorporates enough of the actors’ likenesses to make it feel like you’re watching an extension of the movies. John Candy gets the same treatment here. It’s so plainly him, and it really warms your heart.

It’s enough to make you wonder what it would have looked like seeing John Candy become a terror dog…

For more Dan Schoening Easter Eggs, check out Martin Short and Grandma Winslow, and Eddie Murphy at Ghostbusters HQ.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Dan Schoening Easter Egg Hunt: Eddie Murphy at Ghostbusters HQ

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The Eddie Murphy/Ghostbusters connection goes back a long way. The irony there is that most people have no idea there’s a connection at all.

Legend has it that while writing early treatments for Ghostbusters, Dan Aykroyd had his eye on Murphy for a co-starring role. This would have been during Murphy’s days on Saturday Night Live. But as the film evolved, and Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman, and Bill Murray became involved, the idea of Murphy playing a role fell to the wayside.

Some believe Murphy had been pegged for the Winston Zeddemore role, i.e. the everyman who gets to asks the Ghostbusters expository questions. A quote from Harold Ramis is cited in Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History, which ultimately debunks this idea…

“Everyone thought that Winston was written for Eddie Murphy, but Eddie was really only going to costar with Danny is in his original version of the story. I never spoke to Eddie about being in the film.”

Decades later, Dan Schoening would pay a subtle tribute to Murphy in Ghostbusters #2.

Alright, maybe subtle isn’t the right word.

As Ecto-1 does one of its trademark zooms out of the firehouse, it nearly clips Axel Foley, Murphy’s character in Beverly Hills Cop. Foley is conspicuous by his trademark black jacket and muscle car.

Fittingly, both Ghostbusters and Beverly Hills Cop were released in 1984. Both made big bucks, and spawned franchises. *sigh* Sure makes you miss the ’80s, doesn’t it?

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Dan Schoening Easter Egg Hunt: Martin Short and…Grandma Winslow???

***Dan Schoening’s art is filled with delightful Easter Eggs and winks. Here at “Dan Schoening Easter Egg Hunt,” we shine a fresh light on things you might have missed the first time around.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This hidden gem comes to us from 2014’s Ghostbusters #14, and the wedding of Winston Zeddemore. The boys in gray are about to face the heart-wrenching wrath of Tiamat. But in the meantime, Winston has some really interesting wedding guests.

I’ve always remembered this panel because Schoening slipped in, of all people, Rosetta Lenoire. Modern audiences know her best as Grandma Winslow from Family Matters. And low and behold, there she is in her Family Matters get-up. It somehow makes sense, doesn’t it? On the show, her son was Chicago Police Officer Carl Winslow. Carl was, of course, played by Reginald VelJohnson. VelJohnson also had a small speaking role as a prison guard in Ghostbusters. If you know enough to connect the dots, that’s an epic ’80s reference.

Then it was pointed out to me that standing next to her is Frank Eggelhoffer, Martin Short’s character from Father of the Bride. Yeah, I had no idea on that one. Makes me think I need to go back and watch that movie again.

And because we needed another ’90s reference, Schoening threw Roland from Extreme Ghostbusters in as well. Happy to see the team at IDW giving that show some love. Highly underrated, in my view.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

A Ghosbusters In-Depth Review – Good Enough

Ghostbusters, 2016 posterTITLE: Ghostbusters
STARRING: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth
DIRECTOR: Paul Feig
STUDIOS: Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures, LStar Capital, Village Roadshow Pictures, The Montecito Picture Company, Pascal Pictures, Feigco Entertainment, Ghost Corps Production Company
RATED: PG-13
RUN TIME: 116 min
RELEASED: 
July 15, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The verdict from a life-long ghosthead: It’s good. Not great, and certainly not the classic it’s based on. But pretty good. After everything this movie and the people who’ve made it have been subjected to, I’d say pretty good is good enough.

Who’d have thought such a beloved movie, such a cherished brand, could prompt such hate? Just the stuff that’s been thrown at Leslie Jones (#LoveForLeslieJ) is enough to make you want to shower for five days. But the metric ton of sexism, and general brattiness shoveled in this movie’s direction has been preposterous. I love Ghostbusters as much as anybody else on the planet. The original film was a perfect storm of improv, acting, special effects (as they existed then), music, and storytelling. It touched an emotional chord, and captured the world’s imagination like few movies are privileged to do. I hold it very close to my heart.

But it’s still just a movie. A movie co-produced by Ivan Reitman, who directed the original, as well as Dan Ackroyd himself. A movie that clearly adores its source material, to the point that it stops in its tracks multiple times to have scenes with original cast members. It even goes out of its way to use Slimer, and give the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man an appearance. Let’s keep this all in perspective.

Ghostbusters, image 1, 2016While you can’t excuse all the hate that’s been thrown at this movie, when it comes to ’80s kids I think a lot of it stems from the idea that these ladies are “not my Ghostbusters.” I get that. Some of this backlash likely could have been avoided if they’d gone with a Creed style sequel set decades after the original. Same cast as this movie, same creative team, with a cameo from the Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd characters. Obviously, that leaves you with the question of what happened to Egon Spengler. But it could have worked. That’s what I’d have preferred, perhaps selfishly.

To its credit, the remake tells its own story, albeit hitting some of the original’s bullet points. Erin Gilbert (Wiig) is fired from her university position when her belief in the paranormal is brought to light. She teams with childhood friend Abby Yates (McCarthy) and her associate Jilian Holtzman (McKinnon) to research the ghostly and the unknown. Their first case takes them to the New York City subway, where they meet MTA worker Patty Tolan (Jones). From there, a mystery unravels as to how and why the city is infested with ghosts. Like the original, the movie’s climax ends with a fight against a giant, pasty white monster.

While the ghosts and spooky stuff was important, the success of the 1984 film had more with the Ghostbusters themselves. The characters were fun, their interplay was strong (not to mention hysterical), and you were rooting for them. In making a new Ghostbusters movie, remake or not, half your battle is in the creation of new characters. On that front, the movie starts off shakily. But by the second act, we’ve got a good team on our hands. I can’t give enough credit to Feig, his co-writer Katie Dippold, and these ladies for creating characters that are new, yet with a dynamic that feels familiar.

Ghostbusters, McKinnon, WiigMcCarthy essentially fills the Dan Aykroyd role in this movie, becoming the chirpy heart of the team. She plays off the skeptical Wiig, whose more reserved role keep things grounded in the first act, and adds weight to the ghostly stuff once it takes off. I’ve always preferred Wiig in more dramatic roles, and she earns her keep here. Leslie Jones is, frankly, the sassy one. But her character has enough heart to round her out.

Here’s something that won’t earn me any friends: Kate McKinnon’s performance as Holtzman was grating at first. They were pushing her too hard as “the zany one,” which made me nervous for her. IIf Holtzman had been too flippant for too long, we’d have had…*gulp*…the Jar Jar Binks of Ghostbusters.

Thankfully, the character finds her groove. She becomes an intriguing balance of misfit and super genius. Critics have called this a breakout performance for McKinnon. I’m with them. But yeesh, don’t scare me like that…

Chris Hemsworth surprises with his comedic chops. He could have strictly been a hottie for Wiig to drool over. But he adds real value as yet another misfit, this one comedically out of touch with reality. Based on his role in the climactic sequence, had the Kevin character been tweaked a bit, he might have been okay as the villain.

Ghostbusters, 2016, us against themThere’s a syrupy “rise above ridicule” vibe to the movie that I didn’t expect. The ladies are all outcasts who must overcome the city’s perception of them and save the day. We’re reminded that these four aren’t just coworkers. They’re friends. We get little sentimental moments between Erin and Abby. Patty yells: “Get outta my friend, ghost!” Holtzman gives a little speech about how she finally has a family. You almost expect someone to shout “Friends Forever!” Even our villain is a former bullying victim striking back at society. This idea was present in the original. But they didn’t point right at it like this movie does, and it didn’t seem as personal in nature. How ironic. A movie trying to talk to kids about bullying gets bullied online by adults, many of whom were likely bullied as children.

You know what I’m sick of? “Spontaneous banter.” It’s present in a lot of modern comedies, Ghostbusters included. Characters will be proceeding in a scene. Suddenly, someone will either go off on an unrelated tangent or say something embarrassingly personal. A certain vulnerability or humanity will peek through. Then, as suddenly as they stopped, they’ll pick up where they left off. Sometimes it works. But often it’s inorganic, and kills tension in a scene.

For instance, about midway through the movie a ghost throws a character out a window at Ghostbusters HQ. The ladies end up talking to a cop about the incident, and he cracks: “You saw a ghost? Like the movie with Patrick Swayze?” Melissa McCarthy’s character has a comeback, then suddenly she and Wiig go on a tangent about Patrick Swayze movies. They’re in trouble with the cops because someone was thrown out their window. But the stakes suddenly disappear, then reappear, so we can have banter. StopDoingThat. Not every movie can afford to snip holes in the fabric of its reality so we can have pop culture references.

Slimer

Like a a certain section of moviegoers, I’ve got CGI fatigue. In the ’80s, the Ghostbusters franchise was heralded for its special effects. So to see modern CGI in a Ghostbusters movie feels awkward. I’d wager part of this can be chalked up to the “not my Ghostbusters” factor. But there’s some legitimacy to it. You almost can’t look at these ghosts without being reminded of the live action Scooby Doo movie. But they should be fine for kids and the average moviegoer. Admittedly, our climactic monster looks pretty good. I also like that they added a little glisten to Slimer. He is made of slime, isn’t he?

To its credit, and my great surprise, this movie has one of the best credits sequences I’ve ever seen. They cut in and out of a dance scene, set to “Get Ghost” by Mark Ronson, Passion Pit, and A$AP Ferg. It’s infectiously catchy.

So in the end, was it all that bad? No, not really. It’s not the movie I wanted. But I’m okay with that. After all these years, we finally got a new Ghostbusters movie. And people in my theater were laughing and having fun. It’s tough not to like that.

Kristen Wiig, Ghostbusters premiereThen you have this picture. I absolutely adore this. Look at the faces on those kids! This captures what the new movie can mean to young girls around the world. For that matter, it captures what the old movie meant to so many of us. If you’re a child of the ’80s, swap in a childhood version of yourself and put Bill Murray in Kristen Wiig’s place. Different era, same scene.

Maybe, like the original Ghostbusters, we were meant to pass it on to a new generation.

Maybe we did get the right movie after all…

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A Ghostbusters International #6 Review – The Legend of La Llorona

Ghostbusters International #6, 2016TITLE: Ghostbusters International #6
AUTHOR: Erik Burnham
PENCILLER: Rachael Stott
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: June 29, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

If you’ll permit me, I’d like to gush about Dan Schoening some more.

I’ll never discount the work of Erik Burnham, Luis Delgado, or anyone else who has contributed to these IDW Ghostbusters books. As a lifelong fan, they’ve been an absolute joy to read. But what truly sets them apart is Dan Schoening’s stripped down, animated take on the world. That’s been the case from the start. So when a guest artist steps in to try and fill his shoes, they’ve practically been set up to fail.

Rachael Stott, for my money, is the first artist to buck that trend. The issue misses Schoening, but Stott fills his shoes better than any artist ever has.

This issue takes Egon, Kylie, and Melanie Ortiz to Puerto Rico to face the legendary La Llorona. What follows is pretty standard Ghostbusters fare. Exposition, search, discover, battle, capture. It’s not great, but it’s fine. I’ve never been enamored with the Melanie character. She’s always struck me as a very bland Dana Scully wannabe.

Ghostbusters International #6, 2016, Rachael StottThat being said, Melanie does have the best line in the issue. When a hospitalized teenager says “I thought [the Ghostbusters] were all guys,” she replies with a sigh and an eye roll. I think that’s a tip of the hat to the cast of the new Ghostbusters movie.

Stott’s characters look more like real people than Schoening’s ever do. It’s an interesting deviation from the norm. Her Kylie Griffin is particularly strong. But what really endeared her to me was her take on Egon. You can easily see Harold Ramis on these pages. Oddly enough, that doesn’t seem to be the case with the rest of the team. Though we only see them in a brief interlude.

I’m consistently impressed by how much research Erik Burnham puts into these stories. I had never heard the story of La Llorona prior to this issue. But its a significant piece of Mexican folklore. Though as Egon points out, similar legends exist in other parts of the world. Incidentally, I wouldn’t recommend Googling La Lorona if you’re by yourself at night…just saying.

There’s been so much unrest lately about the Ghostbusters remake, with people being upset that it’s not what they remember. As sexist as many of those complaints have been, I wish I could direct all those people to these IDW books. In a lot of ways, these are the sequels we never got. They have their flaws. But as a whole, I really can’t say enough good things about them.

Interior Image from comicsasylum.com.

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The Ghostbusters Trailer: Reinventing the Wheel

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’ve been waiting for the right time to talk about this new Ghostbusters movie. I’m a life-long “Ghosthead,” and naturally I’ve got a lot of…feelings, about this reboot. A great many of us do. Ghostbusters, and the world that movie created, means a lot. It touched our culture, and those of us who grew up with it, in a very special way.

So it’s natural that opinions would be heated at times. But it’s gotten to the point where it was just absurd. Like a bunch of bratty fans flaming the Facebook page for Tufts Medical Center in Boston after the cast visited some sick kids. There was no way I wanted to lump myself in with that crowd.

And yes, there’s a sexist element to it. These Ghostbusters are women, and that rubs certain people the wrong way.

But now that the trailer is here, the time has come. Let’s talk some Ghostbusters. 

In the end, there’s a bunch of stuff here that I don’t mind, and one thing that I do.

For the record, here are three things I do not mind about this movie…

1. The Ghostbusters are women.
2. The costumes are different.
3. The equipment and the car are different.

Making the Ghostbusters women is a fine way to freshen up the franchise. There have been female team members in the cartoons and comics, and it’s never been a rule that girls can’t shoot lasers at ghosts. Male fans that gripe about this are the equivalent of the Little Rascals, i.e. a bunch of little boys trying to keep girls out of their club house. It’s 2016, guys. Get over it. And yes, the toys look different. Again, it’s 2016. Ghostbusters came out in 1984. Concepts evolve with time.

Ghostbusters 2016, the girls in grayWhile I can’t say it was hilarious, from a conceptual standpoint I’m fine with most of what I see here. I’m I’m not too familiar with Leslie Jones or Kate McKinnon. But they look like they’ll be funny, as does Melissa McCarthy. I’m not a big Kristen Wiig fan, at least in terms of her comedy. I actually prefer her in more serious roles. And it looks like we’ll get some of that in this movie, with her being the “straight man,” if you will. As far as this trailer is concerned, the two big complaints I have are that the ghosts aren’t very convincing (which I suppose could change between now and July), and the bit with McCarthy’s head turning around Exorcist-style is pretty dumb.

In the end, most of the uproar about this movie has been overreaction. That being said, this is what bothers me as a life-long Ghostbusters geek…

They are remaking Ghostbusters.

It’s not like Rocky Balboa, or the litany of other sequels released decades later. Director Paul Feig and the gang are trying to reinvent the wheel here, when that’s not necessary.

Paul FeigIn terms of this point, I’ve always gone back to an interview Feig did with Entertainment Weekly shortly after he was announced as the film’s director. He talked about being intimidated by the prospect of taking on something so beloved, and what his thought process was. This is the passage that literally hurts me to read…

“And then I thought, well, what if we just make it new? It’s not coming into the world that existed before. It’s always hard if the world has gone through this big ghost attack, how do you do it again? I wanted to come into our world where there’s talk of ghosts but they’re not really credible, and so what would happen in our world if this happened today?”

Dude, no. You can’t make Ghostbusters new. You can add to it, but you can’t just start over. Why would you want to? Most people already know what a Ghostbuster is, anyway. Why fight that uphill battle? To an extent, it’s like what George Lucas did with the original versions of the Star Wars trilogy. If you take away or change something your audience has loved for so long, they turn on you. So you wind up facing backlash for trying to update something that didn’t need updating.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting a Ghostbusters movie can’t work in the modern era. But why disconnect it from so much of what people remember? Hell, they even try to make up for it in the trailer with that “30 years ago four scientists saved New York” stuff. (Incidentally, Winston wasn’t a scientist. Oops.) It’s like they realized their mistake after the fact and tried to make up for it with the marketing.

Ghostbusters, 1984, original castIn any event, there’s not much of a point to complaining about it now. The movie is made, and it’s coming out. Dan Aykroyd, who has been pushing for a new Ghostbusters movie for decades, apparently likes it. We can take some solace in that, I suppose.

We can also take solace in the fact that, whether this new movie is good or bad, the originals will always be there. There’s a lot of comfort to be found in that, I think. The movies we love never change (unless they’re made by George Lucas). A part of them is forever incorruptible.

Good luck, ladies.

Image 1 from decider.com. Image 2 from dailymail.co.uk. Image 3 from comicbookresources.com.

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