BCP Interview – Burnham and Schoening talk GHOSTBUSTERS: INTERNATIONAL!
It’s no real secret that we’re huge fans of IDW’s Ghostbusters series here at the Big Comic Page, and after the truly impressive “Get Real” miniseries which saw the IDW ‘Busters coming face to face with their “Real” counterparts, we were excited to see where the acclaimed creative team of writer Erik Burnham and artist Dan Schoening would take the franchise next.
Enter GHOSTBUSTERS: INTERNATIONAL, a brand new globe-trotting ongoing series which is set to kick off next week. We were thrilled to be able to sit down and have a chat with Erik and Dan about the series, and about all things Ghostbusters.
BIG COMIC PAGE: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us, guys, we know how busy your schedules must be. Firstly, for any of our readers who may not be fully aware, can you tell us a little about the idea behind GHOSTBUSTERS: INTERNATIONAL?
ERIK BURNHAM: Back in volume one, we did the Haunted America arc, sending the Ghostbusters on a cross-country trip in the USA. We thought a sequel would be fun at some point – sending them to another country. But it was our editor Tom Waltz who decided to make that the focus of volume 3… there are a lot of haunted places in the wider world, after all. (And we found a way to tie some of them together…!)
But really, the assumption is the Ghostbusters have taken cases outside of New York City before, we’re just focusing on some of them for a bit.
BCP: How long has the idea for GHOSTBUSTERS: INTERNATIONAL been percolating for?
EB: Tom, Dan, Luis, and I have been kicking it around for a while — the idea was always to go back, especially given the response to the crossovers with the TMNT and Real Ghostbusters. I think I wrote up and submitted notes and ideas in April or May of 2015.
DAN SCHOENING: Like Erik mentioned, back to early mid 2015, the interest of sending the Ghostbusters came to the surface again. I am sure we tossed around the idea of how much fun it would be to have them explore different areas and cultures of the world back when we were creating the Haunted America arc.
BCP: How did you decide which countries each character would visit?
EB: We have a list of places it’d be fun to play around with — places (or local mythology) that Dan would enjoy drawing or I’d enjoy writing. Italy and France made it into the book first… but we have plenty of others on the list. Germany, Japan, Russia… the UK and Ireland, Iceland, Chile! Plenty of places on the list.
DS: I feel the stories will gravitate towards places that are rich in folklore and mystery, and our first few haunts in Europe are brimming with opportunities.
BCP: Was there anywhere you wanted to go but couldn’t?
EB: Nothing’s come up yet.
DS: As long as there are ghosts, there isn’t any place the Ghostbusters can’t go! Well, as long as the payment for services rendered meets Peter’s approval.
BCP: One of the things I feel makes the series so special is the balance the pair of you continually manage to strike between new material and fan service. How do you manage to juggle these competing priorities so well?
DS: First and foremost, we want to tell a new and exciting story. The extra things we add from the Ghostbusters history hopefully adds to the experience for the reader, and perhaps they’ll want to read the story a few times to catch all the fun additions. I love adding in elements from the Ghostbusters mythos, while keeping it subtle so it doesn’t take away from the story itself.
EB: Dan’s often the throttle on that. If he thinks I’m not throwing in enough fan service, he’ll sprinkle more into the art. Really though, it’s been pretty organic. The new (or absorbed characters, like Kylie) just find their niche.
BCP: So far we’ve seen the IDW Ghostbusters stop the second coming of Gozer, stop Tiamat (Gozer’s sister), be paid visits by both the TMNT and the Real GB, and are now going International. The whole series just feels so natural and fluid to this point. Do you have any ideas of where to go next that you might be able to share with us?
EB: We were just talking about this recently, so I do… but I can’t share! As a hypothetical, Tom and I have talked about how it would fun to do a TMNT/Ghostbusters sequel. That may never happen, but it’s on our minds, at least.
BCP: If rights and permissions weren’t a factor, what would your dream Ghostbusters crossover series be?
EB: Fantastic Four or Doctor Who would be fun. (They’re the least plausible! I have a few plausible ideas, but I don’t want to jinx them!)
DS: I’m still looking for the Men in Black to team up with the Ghostbusters. It could even lead to having adventures in Outer Space and time travel, similar to Dan Aykroyd’s original story premise for the film.
BCP: In Get Real, we saw glimpses of other universes (I was absolutely stunned when I saw the XGB). Will we be seeing more of these universes in the future, with or without the IDW Ghostbusters?
DS: There’s nothing on deck right now, but you never know!
EB: There are no current, definite plans to revisit, but there aren’t any plans to avoid them, either. We’ll see what comes up naturally. Things like that can turn on a dime
BCP: Your work in both story and art has been accepted by the Ghosthead community with pretty much unanimous critical acclaim. Personally, I can’t think of anything negative I’ve seen about your work. With that said, have Sony’s Ghostcorps ever come to you for advice or had any input into the work you do?
DS: To my knowledge, no one from the team has been contacted directly, but I do know they are aware of the comic. I’d be honored to offer any input or receive ideas and thoughts. Comics are a team effort, and having more people that are passionate about Ghostbusters in the mix can only lead to great things.
EB: They haven’t. Ever the Minnesotan, I always thought the comics were a little bit under the radar (it turns out that that is not the case. They’re very aware of all the things we’ve been doing and adding.) But right now, they’ve yet to reach out — either for our input or to offer their own.
BCP: Comics aside, there are other GB projects that you’re also both a part of, such as Tobin’s Spirit Guide (which I’ve excitedly pre-ordered!), and the Cryptozoic board game and trading cards. How did you get involved with these projects? Are they pet projects brought to life, or did people simply say “those guys, we NEED them on this!”
EB: Tobin’s… was something Insight Editions came to me about, pretty straightforward, and it’s been a lot of fun, I get to work with artist Kyle Hotz again, and editor Chris Prince is terrific to work with. As for Cryptozoic, Dan was involved with the game first (and I’ll let him tell it!) but the folks over there liked our book and were kind enough to bring me in to participate, too. So I guess… they did need us on these!
DS: Erik and Kyle are doing an amazing job on the Spirit Guide, and I guarantee it’s a must have for any Ghostbusters Fan. I just recently saw some work from Kyle, and needless to say, I’m jealous! It’s so good. With the Ghostbusters Board Game, I was first contacted in mid to late 2014.They originally inquired about vinyl figures, which then evolved into what is now the Board Game. The folks at Cryptozoic really know their design and how to make a game seriously fun while staying true to the IP. To have the IDW Ghostbusters made as figures was an absolute joy to be a part of and see come to fruition. I still am very humbled and honored to have been a part of the project, and it was equally cool to have Erik and Luis join me on the adventure as well.
BCP: And finally, given the wide variety of material already under your umbrella, are there any other Ghostbuster-related projects you’d like to tackle in the future?
DS: An animated series with the IDW designs. Oh, and action figures of all the comic book characters and ghosts. That would be awesome :)
EB: I’d love it for Dan and I to establish the designs and tone for a TV show or video game. Because it’d be a hoot! But even if nothing else but more comics happened, I’m content. I’ve had more fun with this property – and working with Dan, Luis, and Tom – than any other job I’ve ever had. I’m profoundly grateful.
GHOSTBUSTERS: INTERNATIONAL #1 goes on sale January 27th from IDW Publishing, and you can expect to see a review on the site shortly.
Interview by: David Gladman
David Tweets from @the_gladrags
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