Spring has sprung! Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, the sun is shining… and the ghosts are ghouling. Yeah, I know people don’t generally put ghosts and spring in the same sentence. Unless you’re me, that is, and have two awesome spirit-centered comics you can’t stop squeeing about. So gather ‘round, comics fanatics, as I rant and rave about my new faves Ghostbusters: Answer the Call and Archival Quality.
Ghostbusters: Answer the Call
Abby, Patty, Erin, and Holtzmann head out on a routine house call to clear out a ghost, but things quickly go awry. Their target isn’t just any old haunt but a malevolent mad scientist terrorizing people and feeding on their nightmares. If the Ghostbusters don’t bust that ghost, the whole of Manhattan will fall under his wicked sway. But first they’ll have to survive their own nightmares come to life.
It’s no secret that I stan for Kelly Thompson. Like, majorly. I have loved every comic she’s written, and I already have her newest one, Nancy Drew, on pre-order. Her stories are light and airy, but imbued with wit, heart, and respect. Reading Kelly Thompson is like spending the day at the beach with your best friend. I knew Ghostbusters: Answer the Call would be fantastic before I’d even read it, and Thompson did not disappoint. It’s a funny, sweet miniseries that not only ports over the charm from the 2016 movie (which is way better than the original Ghostbusters, don’t @ me) but adds her own flair to make it even better.
Corin Howell’s art is all kinds of delightful. The amount of detail crammed into each panel is incredible, yet it never feels overloaded or distracting. Howell plays with evocative angles and knows when to mess with the panel layout for maximum effect. In other words, she understands the hell out of her craft. I love every single thing about Howell’s style, but especially her use of sound effects. They spark around particle beams, loom behind nightmare machines, and get sucked into proton packs. It adds a playful layer to an already supremely enjoyable reading experience. How the Big Two aren’t battling over who gets to hire her is beyond me.
Valentina Pinto had a massive task with this series. There’s a lot of competing color schemes going on, and yet somehow she keeps it together. She translates well the colorful, bright tone established by the film AND makes Howell’s expressive art even more entrancing. If you’ve read an IDW comic in the last few years, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered Neil Uyetake’s letters. He’s a solid craftsman who knows exactly how the text should look to get Thompson and Howell’s meaning across. The little shifts between Patty’s loud voice and Holtzy’s mad scientist asides, the sinister ghostly speech bubbles, even Kevin’s effervescent personality comes through.
Honestly the only disappointing thing about this series is that it’s only 5 issues long. Who do I have to hassle to get a second arc? I have my $3.99 all ready to go, IDW. Gimme gimme gimme some more Ghostbusters goodness.
Writer: Kelly Thompson; art: Corin Howell; colors: Valentina Pinto; letters: Neil Uyetake. IDW published the last issue, #5, in May 2018, and the trade is scheduled for July 2018.
When Celeste “Cel” Walden takes a new job as an archival assistant at the Logan Museum, she expects to encounter plenty of challenges, just not of the ghostly variety. The museum houses a massive collection of photos, books, and archival documents on the history of medicine and medical treatments, and requires her to work the graveyard shift. Cel gets to know two of her co-workers, a quirky librarian named Holly and a distant, awkward curator named Abayomi, and learns that years before, the building was an asylum for the mentally ill. As she deals with her own challenges with mental health, she encounters the spirit of a woman who once lived in the asylum and suffered under its gruesome treatments. As she seeks justice for her haunt, Cel must make sure the sinister Board of Directors doesn’t catch wind of it.
Now, as someone who was an archivist for the better part of a decade, who lives with anxiety and depression, and who loves SFF comics, Archival Quality is perfectly tailored to my interests. So it’s a good thing it’s such a good comic. This was clearly a deeply personal story for Ivy Noelle Weir, and Cel’s journey feels genuine. Her experiences and the ghost girl’s mirror each other in a way that could come off as heavy-handed, but Weir’s touch keeps it sincere and frank. Steenz’s cutsey, cartoonish art style blends well with Weir’s tone and keeps the tale from veering too far into the dark. And thank Hera for a diverse cast and crew! Nearly everyone in the comic are people of color and/or queer and have distinct body shapes. Trust me, in the real world a WOC and QWOC aren’t that common in librarianship, even less so in archives stewardship, so yeah, I was pretty happy about the good representation.
The story dragged in a few places, especially in the beginning, and the final confrontation was wrapped a bit too quickly. And I wish we got to see Cel and Holly actually doing their jobs—most people don’t know what an archivist does, and from this comic they’ll think it’s nothing but scanning old photos. But otherwise it’s a beautiful, bittersweet story about believing in yourself and facing your problems head on. This is one of comics that will, ahem, haunt you for a very long time. If this is what Weir and Steenz can do for their debut, I can’t wait to see where they go next.
Writer: Ivy Noelle Weir; art: Steenz; letters Joamette Gil; flatting assistance: Deb Groves. Published by Oni Press in March 2018.
Alex Brown is a YA librarian by day, local historian by night, pop culture critic/reviewer by passion, and QWoC all the time. Keep up with her every move on Twitter, check out her endless barrage of cute rat pics on Instagram, or follow along with her reading adventures on her blog.