Why does bustin' make me feel good?

A love letter to Ghostbusters, plus news of a new High Republic comic and Swamp Thing questions in Black Adam: The Heart of Rot.

Why does bustin' make me feel good?

Hello, hello, hello!

I spent last weekend at one of my favourite UK events, Portsmouth Comic Con. It was great to be there with some of my best pals and collaborators, including Lucasfilm Publishing Creative Director Michael Siglain, Lucasfilm Art Director Troy Alders, George Mann, Dead Seas co-creator Nick Brokenshire and longtime collaborator Rachael Stott, who I'm currently working with on Star Wars: The High Republic - Saber For Hire.

We had a fab High Republic panel (more on that later) and I took part in a fascinating discussion about creating comics with Catwoman writer Tini Howard, Vampire: The Masquerade's Blake Howard, Roger Langridge and Gateway City's Russel Mark Olson.

There was one panel, however, that I was OVERJOYED to be a part of: a discussion of the lasting legacy of Ghostbusters.

There were a lot of brilliant Ghostbuster displays and cosplays at Portsmouth Comic Con this year!

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love that spook-tastic franchise. I was eleven when I first saw the film and over 40-years later, it's still the movie I reach for when I need a comfort watch. And if I stumble upon it on the telly then nine-times-out-of-ten, I end up watching it to the end!

And, to lay this out from the start, I also adore Ghostbusters II which – and I'm going to say it – has some moments that are better than the original. Back in Business haters can move right along!

I can still remember coming out of the cinema on cloud nine after my first encounter with Peter, Ray, Egon and Winston back in 1984. Driving home a police car screamed past us, sirens blaring. In my mind it was Ecto-1!

It was the perfect movie for a nervous coward-of-a-kid who loved monsters but who scared easily. I'd already seen the Library Ghost on a panini collectable and had to watch that entire scene through my fingers in the cinema. Ironic when you consider what I watch and write these days, but the battle against Gozer was one of my gateways into horror. It was scary, but it was also funny and the laughs won out against the fear.

Before to long I was diving into much scarier fare, although my love of the movies was only cemented by The Real Ghostbusters cartoon and its accompanying comic from Marvel UK, which is why I completely fan-boyed when I discovered that one of the original artists from the fortnightly publication, Ant Williams, was also on the Portsmouth panel. Man alive did I love that comic, with its entries from the Tobin Spirit Guide and Blimey, It's Slimer!

My own small addition to the Ghostbusting world - the 35th Anniversary Real Ghostbusters one-shot that I wrote back in 2019 and crammed with as many Easter Eggs as I could!

There were so many great questions from the audience, including 'which Ghostbuster scene would you like to be a part of?' My answer: vibing with the punks and the rabbis at the bottom of Spook Central at the end of the first movie. Imagine seeing the Marshmellow Man from below as he climbed the Shandor Building towards our hapless heroes!

But it was moderator Lincoln Geraghty's question that made me think: why did we think these movies have endured? Yes, there are the unique ghost designs, many of which inspired Nick when he was designing the spooks for Dead Seas, the one-liners (of which there are many) and the theme song, but for me, the reason I think that Ghostbusters has made such an impact, especially in geek culture, is because the Ghostbusters themselves are nerds. They are scientists. They are enthusiasts. They regularly go down rabbit holes and they aren't embarrassed about it. In short, they are us. We get them, because we're like them.

Growing up, I don't think I realised how important it was that four of my heroes weren't square-jawed, macho gunslingers. They were goofs. They were socially awkward. They often looked a mess. And yes, I realise in many ways Peter Venkman is and was a little problematic at points, but didn't we all love his 'I don't give a flying slime' attitude? As I mentioned in the panel, in a lot of ways, it's odd that a family movie like Ghostbusters doesn't have any children in it, but of course, it does. The child is just a balding parapsychologist who should know better! Kids always find adults behaving like children hilarious.

Best of all, the Ghostbusters were friends. They teased each other, sometimes mercilessly, but they also cared deeply for their oddball mates. It's what sold the relationship breakdown in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. We knew how much they meant to each other, so seeing them estranged was heartbreaking.

And now, all these years later, we have a family at the heart of the franchise. I can't think of anything better for a series that has been enjoyed by generations. Friends, families and free-roaming vapours. What's not to love?

Dispatches from the Occlusion Zone

I promised to get back to the High Republic panel so here's the lowdown about some of the news that came out of Portsmouth Comic con. Star Wars: The High Republic - Dispatches from the Occlusion Zone is a four-issue miniseries coming this autumn from Dark Horse comics with issues written by Daniel José Older, Alyssa Wong and yours truly. Here's the cover for issue one by the wonderful Jake Bartok:

I'm writing the fourth issue and can't reveal too much just yet, although I can repeat what I teased on the panel...

My issue features monster-hunter Ty Yorrick after the events of Saber-For-Hire and, as Jake's cover suggests, also features Keeve Trennis, who, by this point in the story, no longer goes by the title of Jedi Master.

Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming news!

New interview

I popped up on the latest episode of the Star Bros Podcast taking about the High Republic, my writing process and all the nerdy-stuff on the shelves behind me.

Ask Me Anything

Walton D. Stowell contacted me via my website:

Hello! I like your writing for Black Adam's Heart of Decay and would like to know if you meant the rot monsters to look like Swamp Thing and their pentacle symbol to be an anti-nature theme.

Thanks Walton. I'm glad you enjoyed Heart of Decay which was an original comic given away with a range of McFarlane DC Comics action figures.

Here are the Rot Monsters you're talking about, as seen in the inks for the issue by Tyler Kirkham:

This is how I first described them in the script a few pages before:

So they're not anti-nature, but more the enemy of nature, living walking decay. The pentagram was actually a choice of the artist. Here's how I described it in the script for the third panel of the above page.

Have you a question you'd like to ask me? Then pop it into the comments or use my Ask Me Anything form!

That's all folks

I'm going to wrap up there, but don't forget to leave your comments and questions below (including your own thoughts on Ghostbusters, of course!)

Until next time, look after yourself and each other!