No matter how you may feel about director Paul Feig’s upcoming GHOSTBUSTERS remake, one good thing to come out of it is a renewed presence of the franchise on the pop-culture landscape, whether it’s in your video-game console, at your local toy store, or, in the case of today’s topic of discussion, on your bookshelf. Or at least it should be on your bookshelf, if you have any sense in your head and pick up GHOSTBUSTERS: THE ULTIMATE VISUAL HISTORY by Daniel Wallace this October.
This beautiful full-color hardcover looks at the Ghostbusters phenomenon from its very beginnings as an idea in Dan Aykroyd’s fevered, ghost-crazy mind, and follows the development casting and production of both GB films, as well as the animated series, video games, toylines, and comic books. The bulk of the volumes is devoted to the films, with special emphasis on the first, revealing storyboards, design sketches, costume designs, and a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes and publicity photos, many seen for the first time.
The book also includes many “removables” of the type you see in many of the other pop-culture franchise “Vault” books, but since GHOSTBUSTERS as a franchise doesn’t have the same level of merchandise saturation as, say, a STAR TREK or DC Comics, most of the removables included here were fabricated entirely for this project, like stapled-together storyboard booklets or “VFX notes.” The artwork is no doubt authentic, but I doubt they ever appeared in exactly this format.
That’s fine, though: they’re still a fun bonus feature, but the real appeal here is the book itself, an exhaustively researched and very well-written history of the franchise thanks to Daniel Wallace, who conducted new interviews with director Ivan Reitman and stars Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver. (unsurprisingly, Bill Murray did not provide an interview, but come on – did you really think he would?)
Special attention is also paid to the technology of the Ghostbusters universe, with close-up photography provided for the Proton Packs, the Ghost Traps, the PKE Meter, the Ecto-1 and much more, along with commentary from Reitman, Aykroyd and many of the propmakers and designers who crafted all of the Ghostbusters’ ghost-catching gear.
The chapters on the animated series, though smaller, are equally well written, with lots of production information I had never heard about, such as the misguided advice from a research group that led to the animated series’ dumbing down (and the resignation of then-story editor J. Michael Straczynski). There’s even a chapter on the 1990s reboot cartoon series EXTREME GHOSTBUSTERS, which, I have to admit, I’ve never even heard of before now.
All in all, GHOSTBUSTERS: THE ULTIMATE VISUAL HISTORY is a must-have for Ghostbusters fans. Highly recommended.