Thrift Store Finds Hallo-Weekends: Ghostbusters comic books!

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It’s three for the price of one on this second week of October. We’ll be looking three different Ghostbusters comic books published in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s.

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These comics were purchased for me by my father last year in New Paltz, New York. Thanks Dad!

First up, The Real Ghostbusters #26, published by NOW Comics in 1990.

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This was an adaptation of the popular animated series based on the hit 1984 film. Consider that for a moment, if you will. Can you even remember any movies that came out last summer? Probably not; the media landscape today doesn’t allow for much longevity… but Ghostbusters was still a pretty huge deal in ’90.

RGB #26 features what is probably my favorite “ghost” character from the animated series: The Boogeyman. The Boogeyman’s design is fantastically creepy; He’s almost 80% head, with small little cloven hooves for feet and (in the cartoons at least) a really crazy, heavily synthesized voice.

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The story in this comic is (hilariously) titled “Closet Case” and deals with the return of The Boogeyman. It’s pretty much a retread of everything the animated series did with the character, which is fine I suppose. The pencils from Neil Grahame capably mimic the style of the animated series although they’re fairly loose. The coloring on the book is pretty atrocious. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a comic book colored worse than this one.

I’m being fairly critical but honestly, this is an OK comic book considering who it was aimed at, and NOW did fill it up with lots of stuff beyond the main story that would interest kids. There’s a pull-out poster of the cover (even if the cover kind of stinks) a letter page, and a section where kids could send in pictures of themselves dressed as The Ghostbusters.

Next up, Slimer #19, also published by NOW Comics in 1990.

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This comic is a spin-off series starring the Ghostbusters’ slimy mascot. The cartoon spin-off was done in a far more cartoony style than The Real Ghostbusters and the main story in Slimer #19 (written by Larry Parr, art by Mark Braun) is in the same Tex Avery like style.

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The art is… pretty bad, honestly. I don’t remember much about the Slimer cartoons, but it looks as though a lot of the action takes place in The Sedgwick Hotel, where Slimer was discovered in the first Ghostbusters film. That’s kind of neat in terms of continuity but not really neat enough to overcome how amateurish the art for this story is.

The back-up story fares much better, with art from Andy Lanning and David Hine, two comic creators who would go off and do some notable work in the field, both as freelancers (both gentlemen on various Marvel titles) and independently (Hine’s Bulletproof Coffin was a comic I very much liked when it came out years ago). It helps that the hook of the story (The Ghostbusters battle the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) is rather exciting. I wonder why they used it as a back-up.

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Like RGB #26, Slimer #19 had a lot of kid-centric extras including the aformentioned pull-out poster of the cover, a “Draw Slimer” contest, some word puzzles, and finger puppets (complete with stage!)

Finally on our list (and most Halloween appropriate) is Filmation’s Ghostbusters #1, published by First Comics in 1986. Briefly explained: Because of a contractual loophole concerning a live-action Saturday morning series staring Larry Stortch from the Seventies, the animation studio responsible for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe were allowed to make their own Ghostbusters animated series, wholly unconnected to the blockbuster film. This comic is an adaptation of that series.

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The art in this comic by Howard Bender is by far the best out of these three comics – it’s polished and nicely colored by Wendy Fiore. The script by Hilarie Staton is rather smart in the way it weaves the kiddie-centered activity pages (including mazes, word puzzles, and more) into the main story. For example, the Ghostbusters leave their headquarters in the souped-up Ghost Buggy… and the next page is a maze that leads to the next part of the comic.

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About the best part of Filmation’s Ghostbusters (both the animated series and the comic book) are the looks of all the characters. The main villain of the series, Prime Evil, is a creepy looking character and most of the rest of the baddies had similarly cool designs.

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The animation on Filmation series may have been incredibly limited, but they sure could design some cool characters… which is probably why the last few pages of this comic are “How to Draw” demonstrations of everyone in the comic!

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I always kind of hated these tutorials. They made it look so easy when, in point of fact, whenever I’d borrow a Lee Ames book from the library and try to ape his style, I ended up with a jumbled mess.

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