Welcome to So You Want to Read, a new series about where to start reading franchise comics, either from the beginning or by my own recommendations. Whenever possible I’m going off of the Trade Paperback/Collected Editions. This is not a recap series, but there will be short descriptions for some of the books if deemed necessary to the rest of the franchise.
We’re starting with Ghostbusters as the eve of the new movie approaches.
1. The Source Material
The Movies-Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II-Classics, both of them, albeit of different quality. Make sure you have seen these before you plunge into the comics. If you haven’t seen them, shame on you. Why are you even here? Go watch them and come back.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game (2009)-Written by Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis and starring the cast of the movies, this game happens before the comic series. It’s very good. The events of the game are referenced and the player character, The Rookie, shows up in the comic. May be hard to find nowadays and is by no means essential to enjoying the comics.
2. The IDW Ongoing Comics by Erick Burnham and Dan Shoeing
Erik Burnham and Dan Shoeing have collaborated on almost every issue of publisher IDW’s Ghostbusters ongoing series and the related spinoff and miniseries. Together they are a creative team to be reckoned with. Burnham has a distinctive writing voice, is able to synthesize the actors perfectly. Shoeing has a cartoony, expressive style well fit to the world of the Ghostbusters and is able to remind you of the actors without ever just drawing them. He’s also adaptable and during scenes in other worlds, changes to fit their art style. Cool stuff. Other artists including Tristan Jones also contribute.
The easiest place to start with the main IDW Ghostbusters comics is Volume One. Could’ve figured that one out right? The paperbacks are pretty linear from Volumes One to Nine. Those Volumes are also available in two hardcovers; Total Containment (Vols 1-4) and Mass Hysteria (5-9). The series starts up a few years after the movies and more directly after the game, The ‘Busters face Gozer once more, battle a new rival ghost hunting group, go on a road trip, get replaced and face the return of some old friends.
After that is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters crossover (co-written by Tom Waltz), available in paperback. Actually part of the ongoing Ghostbusters series and a lot of fun, 100% would suggest.
Next up is Ghostbusters: Get Real, wherein the Real Ghostbusters from the cartoon of the same name meet the “Real Ghostbusters” of the movies/comics.
Get Real is followed by a single issue, Ghostbusters Annual 2015. The annual sees the team facing off against the Sandman as well as some short stories. This is not available in paperback, but your local comic shop may have a copy. Also available digitally on Comixology.
The next series, Ghostbusters International, picks up after Get Real and the Annual and as the name implies, the Ghostbusters go international. The first paperback comes out this month. It’s very fun.
3.Other IDW Comics
Before publishing the current ongoing series IDW published a few miniseries. These are The Other Side by Keith Champagne and Tom Nguyen (A), Displaced Aggression by Scott Lobdell and Ilias Kyriazis (A), and Haunted Holidays by Various. I have not read any of these so I can’t suggest any of them. I can say I’m not a fan of Lobdell, but that’s neither here nor there. Also Available is Ghostbusters Omnibus that collects all three of the series.
There are also two other Ghostbusters comics by Burnham; Ghostbusters: Infestation with Kyle Hotz on art. Taking place before volume one, this was a company-wide crossover without any crossover where zombies invade the dimensions of IDW’s different published properties including Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe, Star Trek, and Transformers. The franchises never actually meet or crossover, only the zombies do, but it’s a ton of fun. The Ghostbusters story is available in the paperback Infestation Volume Two or the Hardcover collecting the entire crossover. Very briefly mentioned in Ghostbusters Volume One with no real effect on the plot.
Also by Burnham is The X-Files Conspirary: Ghostbusters with art by Salvador Navrro, in which shadowy organization The Lone Gunmen investigate the paranormal instigators…The ones in New York. I haven’t actually read this; It’s just sitting there waiting for me to… Anyway, it’s available in the X-Files Conspiracy Paperback. Another company-wide not-crossover, except they do crossover, but only with X-Files.
Finally, there’s the alternate universe tale, Ghostbusters Deviations, a one shot comic which asks ‘What if the Ghostbusters didn’t cross the streams?” It is a stupendous single issue written by Kelly Thompson with art by Nelson Daniel. It is amazing, I can’t recommend this enough. Available at your local comic shop or digitally through Comixology.
4. Real Ghostbusters and Misc. Reading
There are a couple of other Ghostbusters comics out there. There is an American Manga Ghostbusters: Ghostbusted by Tokyopop. I’ve read it. It’s all right. That’s all that’s worth saying.
While the cartoon The Real Ghostbusters was airing, there was a companion comic book published by NOW Comics, now defunct (finally. The history of NOW is really interesting and worth reading up on, especially if you’re a fan of Speed Racer). IDW has reprinted the series in two volumes, appropriately named The Real Ghostbusters Omnibus Volumes One and Two. Have not read, but I’ve heard good things.
Finally, not a comic book, but super cool is Tobin’s Spirit Guide: Ghostbusters Edition. This is an abridged version of the paranormal reference guide from the movie and comics, it’s written by Burnham with gorgeous illustrations by Kyle Hotz. Tobin’s is really cool, and there’s tons of ghosts from across the franchise covered. It’s filled with fun easter eggs and references to the comics, so if you’ve read those you’re in for some extra fun.
That’s all the currently available (in-print) Ghostbusters comics, broken down into a rough reading order. I hope you have as much fun reading them as I did!
As always, feedback is welcome.
Image copyright IDW and Sony Pictures