The most iconic piece of Real Ghostbusters artwork ever created was undoubtedly this DiC promo image:
(Photo credit: Real Ghostbusters magazine poster image scan and restoration – Joe Roberts)
Even though the whereabouts of the original painting and any concept/prelim designs for it are unknown, I still felt that this stunning piece of work deserved it’s own page on the site, so here is a little bit of DiC history…
Originally created to promote the upcoming show, this image went on to become one of the most well known portrayals of the team for the entire Ghostbusters franchise. The move-like appearance of the characters complete with their tan coloured suits and the Stay Puft Marshmallow man reaching out to grab them in the background inadvertently made it suitable for use on almost any Ghostbusters product, even those that carried the 1984 film logo.
An interesting fact about this piece of art is that while the version above is the most well known, it’s actually not the original…
The very first incarnation of this art, published in both the Hollywood reporter and Variety magazine actually looked like this:
(Photo credit: Holywood reporter/Variety magazine image scan – Gabi Payn)
While the differences between the two are not super obvious at first glance, if you look a little closer you’ll soon notice a few subtle changes.
On the original, Peter has a completely different face, giving him a slightly older appearance. His hairstyle almost makes it look like he has a receding hairline/comb over! Look a little lower and to the left and you will notice that Ray seems to be doing his best Harold Ramis impression too, what with Egon’s dark hair and trademark quiff.
It might be obvious by now but the reason why this image was revised is because upon seeing this version in print, Columbia felt that the characters all looked far too much like the actors in the movie (which they were not supposed to) and requested that DiC alter the image to avoid any issues. This was especially true for Bill Murray and Columbia went to great lengths to make sure that they didn’t upset him by using his likeness for the animated show (which is why we didn’t get the Peter seen in the promo pilot who looked EXACTLY like Bill!).
Below is some interesting information about the creation of the original painting from the wonderful Gabi Payn, one of the talented DiC character design artists who worked on it way back in 1985.
Gabi: “The original took about three weeks from concept to final. Everyone was working on it at first, to get all the ideas. Kevin (Altieri) had the characters standing on the car and hanging out the doors. Columbia requested we put Stay Puft in the back but mine was the straight on perspective upshot! Then the woozy perspective on the street. I just threw it all into a composition.
This was before the show, so pre-production. Venkman got a whole new face later and everything sort of evolved. This image was all thrown together quickly so nothing really meant anything, so don’t try to make sense out of it.
The Egon on the hood looks a lot like the Egon we ended up with while the guy hanging out the passenger door kinda resembles Harold Ramis and none of them resemble Aykroyd!. The characters designs were hardly even begun at this stage. We just had to throw it all together to meet deadlines.”