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Scheduled for release on March 23, 2011, "Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime" revolves around a new paranormal surge intended to resurrect a demon but ghosts are drawn to New York City from all over the world. The original Ghostbusters are overrun with work and recruit new rookies to help out. Tom Waltz, writer of the story and currently an editor at IDW Publishing Comics, has taken time out of his busy schedule to talk with Ghostbusters Wiki. (Interview Conducted by Mrmichaelt)
1. On a typical day, what does your workload entail?
TOM WALTZ: A typical day usually involves drinking coffee, answering a lot of emails, checking voicemails, reading and editing scripts, drinking more coffee, attending various editorial meetings, chasing down late artists, ballooning finished artwork for our letterers, writing copy, drinking more coffee, chasing more late artists... and that's before lunch.
2. Do you read your own work?
TOM WALTZ: I do. Usually I try to step away from it for a bit, then when I feel like I can approach it in a fresh manner, I try to read it as a fan would—with very high expectations for a good product. If, after doing so, I feel I've failed the fan in me in any way, it's rewrite time. Later, I like to re-read my comic book work when it’s matched up to the final artwork. It's always a kick to see how these talented artists translate my writing into pictures—they never fail to blow me away (and humble me in the process. I've been very lucky to work with amazing artists).
3. What does being an editor mean to you?
TOM WALTZ: I come from a sports and military background, so I always think of being an editor as synonymous to being a team captain or a squad leader... something like that. It's my responsibility to ensure everyone on the team is informed, trained, and doing what they are supposed to be doing, but also to never forget that not one of us is more important than the other, and without each teammate (or squad member) doing their very best work, we will have no hope of ultimate success.
4. When you first receive a script, how do you approach the work?
TOM WALTZ: When I receive a script from other writers, I put on my "fan hat" first, and read it for enjoyment, focusing on the story being told rather than the (more mundane) technical aspects—things like grammar, punctuation, etc. Then, after I've compiled notes (which I will share with the writer), I turn my attention to the formatting, etc., making sure the script I turn into our production staff for lettering is as close to final as possible. The less back-and-forth between the letterers and myself will ensure less opportunities for errors in the files that go to the printer and, ultimately, store shelves.
5. How would you characterize comic books' influence on society today?
TOM WALTZ: Quite simply, I like to think of comics as movies you can carry around with you. They've got story, they've got visuals, they've got movement, they've got music (well, at least the soundtrack you play in your own head. What? I do that.). I don't know if they have any significant influence on society, but I do believe they are an integral part of what's becoming a trans-media world, where video games, card games, film, comics, online content, and even music are intertwined and interdependent in ways they've never been before.
6. This is always on the minds of Ghostbusters fans but is there an ongoing comic book series in the works or are quarterly specials and mini-series the norm?
TOM WALTZ: All I can say is, stay tuned...
7. Based on previews, Erik Burnham and Kyle Hotz have done an excellent job on the two issue Ghostbusters: Infestation. Aside from the crossover aspect, in your opinion, how does this story differentiate itself from the previous Ghostbusters stories penned by IDW Publishing?
TOM WALTZ: Well, with Kyle's artwork, it’s certainly a darker and edgier story than we've told in the past. We've been very fortunate to have talented folks working on our books up to this point, and this has been no different, though I will say that Erik Burnham's feel for the Ghostbusters is uncannily natural and it shows in his scripts. If you ever meet Erik, you’ll soon learn he's like all the 'Busters combined together in one person. Oh... and Ghostbusters: Infestation had zombies. That was new (and gooey)!
8. How did IDW Publishing become involved in Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime?
TOM WALTZ: Funny story. Atari had phoned my boss at IDW, Ted Adams (IDW CEO), and let him know that they were looking for someone who had both experience with the Ghosbusters franchise, as well as experience writing for video games—they wondered if he knew of anyone with those qualifications. Ted chuckled and said, "Yep... and he sits in our editorial department." Besides my Ghostbusters editorial duties, I've worked as a writer for the upcoming Silent Hill video game, SILENT HILL: DOWNPOUR. Ted shared this info with Atari and put them in touch with me. I spoke with producer Jonathan Moses and we hit it off immediately. He then sent me the basic outline for GB: SOS and I got right to work (the deadline was extremely tight). In the end, I like to think we created some fantastic new characters while telling a fun, old-school Ghostbusters tale.
9. Chronologically, when does Sanctum of Slime take place (i.e. is it 10 years after the events of Ghostbusters: The Video Game or will there be a solid date given)?
TOM WALTZ: . Early events in the game flow directly out of the second movie. Janosz Poha is being admitted into a mental institution for a bit of post-Vigo "therapy." It is there where Janosz runs into the game's antagonist, Ismael, and our mystery really begins to unfold. Eventually, the game transitions to an ambiguous "present day," where the four original 'Busters are being overrun with paranormal business and realize they need to bring in rookies to help them out.
TOM WALTZ: I can't speak for the developers, but I was never in contact with Mr. Aykroyd or Mr. Ramis, though I certainly hope they get a chance to check out the game when it's done—I'm confident they'll like what they see (fingers crossed). If anything, you could say the entire original GB crew was with me in spirit when I was writing the script. (Heh... I just made a ghost joke.)
11. What role does this story have on the continuity of the franchise or will it be something for fans to debate for the next 20 years?
TOM WALTZ: Well, Ghostbuster fans wouldn't be Ghostbusters fans without a bit of good ol' passionate debate, so I suppose that goes without saying. What I truly hope, more than anything else, is that our four new Ghostbusters—Alan, Bridget, Samuel, Gabriel—are welcomed into the greater Ghostbuster family and therefore overall Ghostbuster canon. I really fell in love with the characters when I was writing them and would like to see them stick around moving forward.
12. Who did the artwork for the comic cutscenes?
TOM WALTZ: The artwork was handled by the developers. Neither I nor IDW was involved with any artwork responsibilities—ours was strictly story for Sanctum of Slime.
TOM WALTZ: The names were given to me (and the genders) and from there I was given plenty of leeway in creating their personalities, quirks, etc. In many ways, these rookies are my babies and I'm very appreciative to both Atari and Behaviour for allowing me the opportunity to take such and active role in the creation of the new 'Busters.
14. What went into the writing of the new characters?
TOM WALTZ: Well, I always believe that coming from a foundation of familiarity is best so that the change isn't too jarring for fans. So, I took aspects of the four original 'Busters and injected them into our new characters, but in ways I hope are unexpected, and not so completely that they just end up being clones of the originals. You'll see a bit of Egon, Peter, Ray, and (my favorite) Winston in our new team, but you're also going to get to know them all as individuals, too, with their own personalities.
TOM WALTZ: In short, no. Not at all.
16. Out of the new Ghostbusters in this game, which one did you enjoy writing for the most?
TOM WALTZ: Oh, man, I love Bridget! She's tough, spunky, sarcastic, and she looks good in a 'Busters jump suit. I especially love her interaction with Alan, who is the most tightly-wound of the four new characters. Bridget's a button-pusher, and Alan's got more than his fair share to push, no doubt about. Another fun character to write was Geoff, the Ecto-4WD driver.
17. So far it was revealed that Janosz Poha will be in this game. What brought this about?
TOM WALTZ: This is actually one of the things Atari and the developers had indicated they wanted to happen from the very start. It was a great choice, and he was fun to write—his cadence and accent are so oddly amusing.
18. It has been revealed the main antagonist is named Dumazu the Destroyer. A quick search through a book on mythology shows an obscure Sumerian god with the same name. Is it an intentional adaptation or a new character created for the game and it is just a coincidence?
TOM WALTZ: Again, Dumazu already existed before I came into the picture, but after I did get the gig, I checked out any references to Dumazu and found the Sumerian version. My Dumazu is loosely based upon the research I did, but I also endeavored to create some new mythology as well. So, again, a bit of familiarity with an original twist... and a little paper umbrella to make the cocktail mix presentable!
19. Are there any plans to continue the storyline and characters in any future IDW comics?
TOM WALTZ: Currently, no, but I've told both Atari and IDW that I'd love a chance to write more adventures with the new 'Busters should the opportunity (and fan demand) arise. I believe the rookies have some great stories in 'em yet!
20. On February 16, 2011, Creative Director David Williams, of the game developer Behaviour Santiago, revealed part of Egon's story has been designing new equipment over the past decade. Do you think this was influenced by Ghostbusters: The Video Game and/or Extreme Ghostbusters and what's your opinion on adding new equipment?
TOM WALTZ: I think it would be absolutely disrespectful to Egon (and Ray) to think that they wouldn't constantly be updating and upgrading their equipment. These guys are visionary geniuses—as fast as technology moves these days, it would be crazy to think that Egon and Ray wouldn't be moving just as fast (or faster) with their own technological discoveries and inventions. I'm all for tradition, but I'm also a realist—as such, I’m fully supportive of the idea that the Ghostbusters tech will always be cutting edge, albeit unorthodox (and probably never truly safety tested).
21. Have you had a chance to play the game and what's your opinion of it so far?
TOM WALTZ: As of this interview, no, but it comes out tomorrow, and I’m stoked like crazy to get my hands on it!!!
Thank you for your support and interest!
Interview Conducted by User:Mrmichaelt