IDW pitch: Ghostbusters

Unlike my DC pitch for Blue Devil that never went anywhere, this one had a fairly quick development process from pitch to final comic. Back in the summer of 2008, IDW’s Editor in Chief, Criss Ryall, asked me to pitch them a Ghostbusters mini series. I put together something that was probably a bit too esoteric, and sure enough, Sony (the license holders) didn’t much care for it, so they passed. So it goes.

Fast forward about a year later and I noticed IDW had solicited a one-shot Ghostbusters Christmas Special. That got me thinking, and I fired off this short email to Chris in September, 2009:

“Hi Chris,

I noticed that there’s a Ghostbusters Christmas special one-shot being offered. It made me wonder if you guys have plans for any more such issues? If so, I’ve got an idea for a Valentine’s Day one-shot I’d like to pitch to you.

Best,
Dara “

The good news? Chris liked the idea and planned on doing a few more holiday-themed one-shots to eventually collect into a TPB. The bad news? I had no story idea! I was pretty much bluffing, just testing the waters. But no worries, nothing like a real deadline to get the creative juices flowing. I came up with an idea in a few days, and sent in the following pitch:

*Spoiler Warning* – If you haven’t read the comic yet, you may not want to read the summary below.

Ghostbusters

Proposal for a Valentine’s Day one-shot by Dara Naraghi

At a Glance

At Winston’s request, the Ghostbusters attempt to capture an obsessed, love-struck ghost haunting the home of Tiyah, an attractive woman he befriended on a recent case. However, when the ghost proves to be more trouble than the team expected, it’s Winston’s courage and common sense that save the day, leading to a romantic date with Tiyah.

Plot Summary

At a fancy hotel ballroom being decorated for an upcoming Valentine’s Day gala, the Ghostbusters fight a prohibition-era ghost attempting to enact its own “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre”. While taking a break after the ghost’s capture, Winston befriends Tiyah, one of the banquet hall’s employees. She describes her own troubles with a ghost, but confesses she doesn’t have the funds to hire the team.

Peter agrees to accompany Winston to Tiyah’s apartment for a pro bono investigation, though Venkman’s motives have more to do with hitting on the attractive woman than performing ghostbusting services. They are both surprised by the sheer malevolence of the ghost, but afterwards Peter comments that although hostile to them, the ghost seemed protective of Tiyah.

Back at the firehouse, Ray begins investigating the history of the apartment, while Egon creates modified proton packs designed to create less property damage (though it also leaves them less effective). Working together, the team surmises that the ghost belongs to a prominent man who was dumped quite publically by his girlfriend in that apartment generations ago. It has since become romantically obsessed with the female residents, lashing out jealously towards any male visitors.

The team’s attempt to capture the ghost at Tiyah’s apartment proves to be too challenging, however, owing to the weakened proton packs and the ghost’s sheer obsessed will power. And while Peter, Ray, and Egon’s scientific strategies prove fruitless, it’s Winston’s everyman common sense that saves the day. He confronts the ghost unarmed, and has a no-nonsense man-to-man talk to it about accepting and “getting over” his romantic loss. At Winston’s proclamation that there are plenty of other fish in the sea “on the other side”, the ghost accepts his fate and dissolves away.

The epilogue of the story focuses on some character moments:

  • Peter finally manages a date for Valentine’s Day…by duping an attractive young reporter into interviewing him over dinner.
  • Ray and Egon have a “date with science” as they analyze the curiosities of this most recent case.
  • Winston is invited to a home-cooked meal at Tiyah’s apartment as a gesture of her gratitude, and shares a romantic kiss with her in the closing panel.

Chris really liked the script, and even commented “You write a good Peter,” which sounds vaguely dirty. The folks at Sony were also cool with it, and only sent one note back on it:

“The part where Winston is able to talk the ghost into giving up seems a little too convenient–his common sense notwithstanding! Will it be something like the malevolent ghost is really a big bully who just wants a friend, type of thing–and only Winston picks up on that? Or will it be more like Winston just decides to walk into the lion’s den and tames the lion?”

I wrote a short email, clarifying my intentions about the scene, and we got the green light from Sony. Chris asked me to propose several possible subtitles for the one-shot, and this is the short list I came up with:

  • St. Valentine’s Day Massive Scare
  • Green With Envy
  • Thugs and Kisses
  • Tainted Love
  • Ghost of a Romance
  • Love is Dead

Chris liked “Tainted Love,” and the project was in full swing. Final script was due in a month from that point, and IDW picked Canadian indie artist Salgood Sam to draw the book, with a variant cover down by Nick Runge. Another famous Canuck indie artist, Bernie Mirault, provided the colors

Regular cover art by Salgood Sam

Variant cover art by Nick Runge

The book was published February, 2010. Here’s the official solicitation copy, as well as a preview:

Ghostbusters Holiday Special: Tainted Love
FC • one-shot • 32 pages • $3.99
Dara Naraghi (w) • Salgood Sam (a) • Salgood Sam, Nick Runge (c)
Love is in the air—literally!—as Winston befriends an attractive woman with a ghostly problem in her apartment. But trapping the love-struck apparition proves to be more complicated than the Ghostbusters originally thought. Can Winston step up and save the day? Just how far will Peter go to find a date? And do Ray and Egon ever stop to think about girls, or is it always about trans-dimensional ectoplasmic anomolies with those two?

The comic itself is sold out, but you can find it collected with several other one-shots (including one written by Peter David) in the Ghostbusters: Haunted Holidays TPB.

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