Erik Burnham, co-writer for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters mini-series, writer of the Ghostbusters Get Real mini-series, writer of the Ghostbusters Annual 2015, and writer of the upcoming Ghostbusters ongoing series Volume 3 from IDW Publishing Comics and the upcoming Ghostbusters: Tobin's Spirit Guide from Insight Editions, has spoken with the Ghostbusters Wiki about the two 4 issue miniseries, the annual and provides some hints about what to expect from the upcoming third volume of the ongoing series and Tobin's Spirit Guide out next year. Check out "Ghostbusters International Issue #1" scheduled to release on January 27, 2016. (Interview Conducted by Mrmichaelt)
1. With the first issue, what was the biggest concern in the writing phase? Was it agreeing on how many pages to spend explaining what was going on in TMNT to Ghostbusters readers and what was going on in Ghostbusters to TMNT readers? Was it coordinating with your co-writer, Tom Waltz?
ERIK BURNHAM: A major concern, yes, was in making sure that the crossover mattered to both franchises. That it "counted" -- this was something that was important to Tom and I to include, but it also made it harder to have some of the fun and games, the stuff Tom & I most love; characters just sitting around and talking. Coordination wasn't a problem; we're very much on the same page from years of working together, and editor Bobby Curnow knew how to make magic happen if and when we needed another perspective.
2. Michelangelo and Peter in particular really shined as the mini-series progressed. Were there any specific characters you expected to sort of take the reigns and naturally drive the story but as the writing went on, it was someone else?
ERIK BURNHAM: We initially cooked up the skeleton of the crossover in 2012; at that time, it was going to be much more of an Egon and Donatello story… but a couple of years of stories changed the character dynamics.
ERIK BURNHAM: Enveloped the young man inside of an adaptable ectoplasmic casing that allowed for finely tuned manipulation of the corporeal form.
4. For the Ghostbusters' narrative, one of the end results was they ended up with a functioning Interspatial Teleportation Unit. A potentially dangerous thing as Winston later pointed out in Get Real. But just because they don't use it, the teleporter is still a two way street. Is it possible really powerful demons or gods could crossover by homing in on the teleporter from the other side?
ERIK BURNHAM: At best, capable entities would notice a rift in the multiverse -- but they can't really enter in if the channel isn't already open. Could an evil something use the door if it was open? Yes. Could they force it open if their particular dimension wasn't already dialed in? No.
5. Obviously, The Real Ghostbusters encompassed a LOT of episodes. Did you immediately choose to utilize "Janine Melnitz, Ghostbuster" or was it a lengthy process to figure out how to expand the RGB's interdimensional trip from a 48 page annual pitch into a 84 page mini series (i.e. was it expanded by the addition of the sections with the Extreme Ghostbusters and team from Sanctum of Slime)?
ERIK BURNHAM: We picked that one because it had a story wherein the guys were shunted away. That was a perfect point of divergence, and allowed for a different avenue to the IDWverse than the way the TMNT used.
And yeah, the XGB and SOS sections were purely there to give a longer story count, though we surely loved being able to play with those toys for a couple of pages and the fans of those specific iterations of the property… it wasn't a lengthy process though. When we had the space and the existence of multiple dimensions, those appearances were practically a foregone conclusion.
ERIK BURNHAM: As fun as it might have been, I think it would've clashed with Peter hating Peter.
7. RGB Egon speculates about occasional transference of P.K.E. from their Containment Unit to the IDW verse. Was this in part a tongue in cheek explanation in-universe for all of Dan Schoening's easter eggs?
ERIK BURNHAM: Yes. It had to be done!
8. The Ghostbusters have been through the wringer but it's also fair to say the Firehouse has taken a lot of hits, too. From Gozer and Tiamat at the end of the Mass Hysteria! arc to Chi-You and the Thralls of Chi-You in the TMNT/GB crossover and once again, Proteus and his Cerberus Manifestation wrecked the Firehouse really hard. Is PCOC eating the repair bills at this point?
ERIK BURNHAM: PCOC isn't responsible for those repairs, no. Tough luck, guys, it's out of pocket! But at least they can remodel a little bit.
Maybe they could improve the foundations on the southeast corner, I don't know.
9. I know a lot of fans give the game itself a lot of grief but I loved the life Tom Waltz breathed into its main cast. Thank you for the guest appearance of the junior team from Sanctum of Slime and further suggesting them as the 'near future.'
ERIK BURNHAM: Well sure. And as we all know, the future is always near.
10. When Proteus is caught in the Proton Streams, you took the chance to seed the Annual and Ghostbusters International. But how far along were you in both when you wrote this issue? Or did you simply have to tell Dan something to the effect of 'just draw the Louvre in this panel, it'll make sense later.'
ERIK BURNHAM: Pretty much. I hadn't actually started scripting anything by that point, so I was just throwing things I expected to use on out there.
11. It's bad enough Janine and Kylie got stuck in Tokyo but the last page introduces what looks like a Grudge-style Yurei in the mirror; who knew throwing a paperweight at a god would have such ramifications... is this just a gag that gets solved between issues or will we see this development with the ghost play out into Ghostbusters International?
ERIK BURNHAM: That one was, honestly, just a fun gag to end the comic. So no follow-ups (in the near term, anyway!)
12. We've been given a peek at the state of affairs at the Firehouse after the events of Get Real. Egon's assessment seems rather daunting but I can't imagine Ghostbusters without their Firehouse. As interesting as the notion of 'other properties' the Ghostbusters own beside what we've seen, the situation presents some interesting scenarios. The City and PCOC could come in and help, thus exerting greater control over our heroes... we will be see more of this subplot with the Firehouse or will there be a big enough time jump going into Ghostbusters International that everything will be back to 'normal'?
ERIK BURNHAM: Egon's not immune to hyperbolic statements. The Firehouse isn't going to go anywhere -- but this gives Dan license to redesign the interiors some, if he wants, and it also addresses the point that it isn't logical to keep all their eggs in one basket, as it were, if they don't have to. It just opens up some additional possibilities.
But yeah, like I said, the Firehouse isn't going anywhere.
13. Similar to how he stepped in and gave Ray last minute guidelines atop the Shandor building in the first arc of the ongoing, the spirit guide steps in and helps Ray in his dream reality. Obviously, his agenda goes beyond being a guide despite what he said... is he simply a force for good and recognizes the need for the Ghostbusters or will we continue to learn a little more about him occasionally?
ERIK BURNHAM: Right now I kind of like him just being a mysterious helper. There's no origin or explanation that would satisfy everyone -- but at one time, we did have an idea for a story wherein the spirit guide was helping as an act of good faith to get the Ghostbusters' trust, and then, eventually, their help. We may do that story one day yet.
14. The Sandman was an idea you had for Volume 3 at one point. Was the story born out of a desire to put your own artistic spin on a fan favorite character from The Real Ghostbusters or did the character fit the bill for the type of the story you were developing?
ERIK BURNHAM: In this case, it was a simple matter of IDW deciding to do an annual very close to the wire of the deadline for Diamond Catalog listings. Tom called me up and said "I need an idea today." So… the Sandman. He seemed like a great choice for an expanded story -- and even so I wish Dans schedule had allowed for us to do a longer story!
I went through several iterations of the story, rewrote it in full three times. Initially, as the solicit stated, it was going to be more straight up reminiscing and then the Ghostbusters would eventually realize they were in a dream world. But when Dan and I started researching, other ideas occurred -- like what became the opening scene.
We also came up with a great "casting" for The Sandman. I wanted to make him more talkative because of the actor's voice… but still. Maybe we'll see him again. (:
15. Do the back up stories all take place in the IDW canon and chronologically do they happen right after the Sandman story?
ERIK BURNHAM: Heh. I'll leave it vague. Winston is taking a smartphone selfie in the Sean Galloway story, after all. Haha. As for the timing, they were meant to be windows into ANY time. World of the Psychic is obviously occurring around the events of GBII, so it wouldn't take place after the Sandman story, chronologically. And the Slimer story could be decades before the formation of the Ghostbusters, or ten minutes before Janine got the call. There's a lot of leeway in these -- they're just meant to be bits of fun.
16. There's so much talent in the comic industry and a lot of them contribute to various IDW Publishing titles. For the annual, how was the line up of artists chosen -- internal decisions by IDW, word of mouth, people you and Tom wanted to work with?
ERIK BURNHAM: The bulk of them were chosen by me (and/or Dan) seeing them at SDCC this year and asking if they wanted in. I also emailed Matthew Dow Smith and Evan Shaner (who was initially in, before his busy schedule sadly made it impossible to take part -- these things happen. We'll work together again, unless his meteoric rise to success prevents it!) Dan was behind Sean Galloway and Tom Bancroft. (Tom wanted to write his own, and I had thought he was doing a Mel story -- or I would've!) Everyone else just picked the character they wanted to do a story for and I wrote accordingly.
17. "A Fall Wind in Summer" appears to fall in to what the solicitation was hinting at, setting up future stories. And it appears an IDW version of Samhain will be showing up next year unless it's the same Samhain and he got displaced from the RGB Containment Unit like that poltergeist in Get Real #2?
ERIK BURNHAM: We only used Samhain because Alex Deligiannis REALLY wanted to draw him! But yeah, I was seeding a future threat. We'll get to him eventually. And whether it's a version from the RGB universe or a native-to-IDWverse version, I want to make sure he's a nice, big threat.
18. Volume 3 of the ongoing series, Ghostbusters International, starts in January. Let's talk a little about this. What can we expect for the format of stories going forward? For a given issue, it could be a few pages of New York, some of whatever country, and then Melanie's Haunted America report OR an issue could be all in a foreign country OR an issue could still be all New York?
ERIK BURNHAM: It'll bounce around. Issue 1 is purely NYC. #2 is split between NYC and Venice. We'll bounce back and forth between places… there are things to see to in New York, too. As for the backups, here's what happened: Corin Howell is doing variant covers. Tom wanted a theme, and after a few suggestions, we landed on shots of places Mel has investigated (as per the tag in Vol.2 #20.)
The first cover was so much fun I thought it'd be neat to explore, but we're a 20 page book, and that's all Dan. So I mocked up an FBI Incident Report form for Mel to fill out that goes along with the cover, and we'll put both of those in the back. As we go on, I hope to evolve them a little bit, and make them better… and Mel will return in the main book proper, so this won't really shortchange her too much.
19. There have been hints of new Ghostbusters being hired, well granted PCOC doesn't bury Janine in red tape, is there anything further you can tease about them? Background? Personality? How many there will be?
ERIK BURNHAM: Jenny and Janine will talk about red tape in #1. As for the rest -- there's nothing I can really tease. I have one in mind; any more than that will have to happen organically. So I don't know how many. At least one! And he or she will likely be an original character, not someone plucked from the cartoons or games.
20. Last but not least, could you tease a little of what you have in store for fans in 2016 such as the Tobin's Spirit Guide and your other projects in the works that have been announced?
ERIK BURNHAM: Well, as far as it goes… I'm just wrapping up my involvement on Back to the Future, and blazing forward on the ongoing Ghostbusters International…. the Spirit Guide is, as we speak, waiting to go through its next round of revisions, but it's looking GREAT! Kyle's art is exactly what you'd expect it to be -- wonderfully atmospheric, and very creepy.
I can't say too much more about it... but I will say that we have a great cross-section of ghosts from the movies, the cartoons (Real and Extreme), both modern video games, and the IDW comics… and again, Kyle's artwork is gonna be worth the price of admission all by its lonesome. I can't wait to have a copy in my hands to flip through! (And I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much editor Chris Prince has brought to the process -- he's the heart of this book!)
Other projects… still working on some creator owned stuff. I'm also going to be starting a Patreon (in January, knock wood, but later if need be) to help relaunch a comic strip. We'll see. And you never know when a new project will come knocking!
Interview Conducted by User:Mrmichaelt