"Ghostbusters" Turns 30 in Style With Burnham's "Mass Hysteria"

Early next year, IDW Publishing brings a spotlight to everyone's favorite supernatural exterminators with a double dose of "Ghostbusters" goodness from writer Erik Burnham. In January, Burnham and artist Salvador Navarro bring the Lone Gunmen to New York City for "X-Files: Conspiracy: Ghostbusters" as part of Paul Crilley's "X-Files" crossover event. Then in February's "Ghostbusters" #13, Burnham and artist Dan Schoening kick off the team's 30th anniversary with the 8-part story "Mass Hysteria."

Burnham spoke with CBR News about both "Mass Hysteria" and "Conspiracy: Ghostbusters," revealing which goddess of chaos is replacing Gozer on the food chain, what classic character makes his IDW debut and what's bringing the Lone Gunmen to the Big Apple.

CBR News: Erik, your next big story, "Mass Hysteria," kicks off in "Ghostbusters" #13. What's special about this new arc?

Erik Burnham: "Mass Hysteria" is a love letter to the Ghostbusters on behalf of the 30th anniversary in 2014; a bigger story, spreading out over the course of 8 issues. And yes, I say that knowing full well that the series itself has already been an extended love letter to the franchise. We're just gonna be going a little larger this time, with some big moments for a few members of the cast.

We're also finally going to let Winston and Tiyah Clarke -- who have been engaged for a while now -- walk down the aisle. The wedding happens right off, in issue #13.

Since this is the 30th anniversary story, what kind of steps have you taken to mark the occasion in an extra-epic way?

[We're] gonna be bringing back everything we can -- even if it's just for a quick peek -- so that as many fans as possible get their favorite something. We've even done two preludes (in issues #11 and #12) featuring a couple other highly requested characters (just to make sure I could get them in.) And like I said, there are some big moments for some members of the cast. Right off in #13, we'll be seeing one of these moments.

Do you get a lot of requests for classic characters to make appearances?

Name it, I get it. I'm asked for characters, ghosts, vehicles and equipment from across the cartoon canon, "Real Ghostbusters" and Extreme Ghostbusters. Heck, I've been asked about the post-Mayoral career of Lenny (the mayor in the films.)

I also get fans who want Janine and Egon together in a passionate relationship, and fans who absolutely do not want that. Some group of fans is going to be disappointed no matter what I do when it comes to things like that!

The biggest debut [in "Mass Hysteria"] is Louis Tully. Fans have asked about him, some because they wanted to see what Dan and I would do with him, some because they wanted to see how the threads of "Ghostbusters 2" were sewn off -- but he's been one of the most requested movie characters, all the more because we haven't been able to use him before now. But now, for the 30th, we have permission. It's not like we're going to turn it into the Louis show, but it is nice to be able to use something we've been asked about so much over the last couple of years.

I'm going to do my best to keep Louis in line with the characterization Rick Moranis created -- so, affable nerd. As to where he's been? Out of New York. The details of that will be shown in issue #15!

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What about the big God himself: Gozer? He's mentioned in the solicits for this issue, so could we see him returning as well?

Actually, Gozer has been defeated. Between the movie, the games, and the comics, the Ghostbusters have beaten this god (and his minions) already. But lowly humans beating a god -- that's the kind of thing that could attract interest. That's what we're going to be dealing with in "Mass Hysteria:" another god. Well, a goddess.

Who is this other goddess?

I can tell you that the activities of the Ghostbusters have caught the attention of Tiamat, a Sumerian goddess of chaos -- and she is going to bring the chaos when she comes, in all senses, big and small. She'll mess with the laws of physics, she'll mess with emotions, and she'll raise the dead to cause a ruckus -- because this is still "Ghostbusters!"

Could we see any spin-offs or re-numberings as a result of "Mass Hysteria?"

Nope, the circumstances that brought us to the last renumbering are unlikely to be repeated. As far as spin-offs, I'd love to do one, but as of right now, there are no plans for anything outside of the ongoing.

Moving along, The Lone Gunmen are coming to NYC this January as part of IDW's "Conspiracy" crossover event. What goes down in your one-shot "X-Files: Conspiracy: Ghostbusters?"

Without getting too much into specifics, over the course of investigating the events from the bookend, the Ghostbusters wind up on the Lone Gunmen's radar, and the Gunmen head to New York to investigate.

So which continuity does "Conspiracy" fall into?

This continuity is its own thing. Remember, in the '90s, when DC crossed Spider-Man and Batman over? For that story, they were of the same world -- and as far as I'm concerned, this is like that.

Are you working with "Conspiracy" head writer Paul Crilley on the issue?

Paul came up with the architecture for the Conspiracy crossover, and came up with plot beats for each issue. I built the issue around those beats. When all is said and done, I think Conspiracy will be a better, more cohesive story for it. I think that counts as working with him, albeit in an indirect way.

How big of an "X-Files" fan are you?

I was watching from go! Haven't seen it since it ended its run, but I've been itching to go back and rewatch since I noticed it was on Netflix -- and writing this issue only made me want to go back all the more.

It seems like The Lone Gunmen and the Ghostbusters crew are a match made in conspiracy theory heaven!

That's part of what made the concept fun! With one issue, there wasn't as much space to explore the similarities, but I did get to show it in a couple of small ways: Frohike's reaction to a ghost, for example, or one of the Ghostbusters finally recognizing the Gunmen because he was a former subscriber to their newsletter. (It shouldn't be too hard to figure out which of the Ghostbusters that was.)

Lone Gunmen Take Center Stage in Crilley's "X-Files: Conspiracy"

I'm sure you've been reading about the "Ghostbusters 3" rumors like the rest of us. What are you thoughts on the long-troubled project? Can this movie work without Bill Murray's involvement?

I'm sure there will, eventually, be "a" third movie; 30 years on and people still know what to say when you ask, "Who ya gonna call?" and that kind of recognition is priceless.

That said, it's anyone's guess whether or not it'd be a sequel with any of the original cast, a passing of the torch, or an outright reboot. Can it be worthwhile without Bill Murray? Arguably it could, with a fantastic script, but a Murray-less film would disappoint a lot of people, myself included, unless they started fresh. (And maybe even then!)

But whatever they did, I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't be in line opening night.

"X-Files: Conspiracy: Ghostbusters" is out this January, with "Ghostbusters" #13 following this February, both by writer Erik Burnham from IDW Publishing.

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