I’m very excited to introduce Richard Maurizio as a special guest on theartofRGB.com in order to help shed some light on the interesting story of the very first Real Ghostbusters comic to go into production…and why it never actually saw the light of day!
Welcome to the site Richard, it’s great to have you here. I’m sure there will be plenty of comic fans reading who are already familiar with your name but for those who might not be, could you tell us how long you’ve been involved in the comic industry as an artist and how you got your first start?
Richard-Thank you for having me. For the past 40 years I am proud to have been given the opportunity to call myself an artist. I started my love for comics and my career in the 80s working on some collectible magazines. After that, my vocation continued with Deluxe Comics as the art and licensing director for just short of a year. During the 80s there was a black and white comics era, and I published a few comics. One such comic was called LT Caper and it was a spoof on the spy genre because of my love of Get Smart, Man from U.N.C.L.E, and Secret Squirrel. LOL. The art was done by myself and inked by Frank Mclaughlin of JLA and Flash fame.
Joe- Which other titles have you worked on in the past and which would you say you are most well-known for drawing?
Richard- I’m most well known for being involved with Looney Tunes, Animaniacs, Space Jam, and Underdog. I also co-wrote and drew some Tom and Jerry comic strips for five years.
Joe- As I mentioned earlier, you’ve very kindly agreed to talk to me about a project from early in your career that was unfortunately never published, the very first “The Real Ghostbusters” comic book which was being produced by Lodestone Publishing (a sister company of Deluxe Comics).
(Below is an image of page 1 courtesy of collector Matthew Walkosz)
Joe- Could you start by telling us roughly when the comic started production and how you came to be involved?
Richard-Yes of course, this would have been in 1986 although I am unsure of the exact date, possibly May or June. I can’t recall.
David Singer who was the Publisher of Deluxe Comics and Lodestone had just finished publishing The Honeymooners Book and was looking to expand on licensed properties, one being The Real Ghostbusters.
He called me and asked If I wanted to take on the project. I loved the Ghostbusters movie so definitively said YES.
David went on to elaborate that it was based on a new animated series that was in development. He then sent me the style guide and a script for “Ghosts-R-Us”, which, as your readers will know was the pilot episode.
At the time there were no completed episodes so that was all I had to work from. I created some samples using the style guide and was approved. “The Real Ghostbusters” was actually my first licensed project.
Below are 3 of Richard’s sample pages:
Joe- Those samples are wonderful!
As you’ve mentioned, the artwork from issue #1 shows that the comic was going to be based on episodes of the animated show beginning with the debut episode “Ghosts R Us”.
Ghosts-R-Us is such a well known episode that I thought it would be fun for the readers to have a few clips of the scenes below to be able compare with the pages you drew from the script.
Slimer gets “disciplined” by Ray:
Here’s another comparison of a scene later in the episode of Janine receiving a call. Note the difference in address for the disturbance:
On the page below you can see music notes and Peter mentioning the Top 40 so it looks like there was some reference to music (possibly a party) in the script which didn’t make it into the episode:
Joe- Given that both NOW and Marvel UK came up with their own content most of the time without relying on the show for ideas, it blows my mind to think that we almost had a comic book adaptation of the show we all love.
I’m curious to know if there was there ever any discussion about doing any original stories?
Richard-I’m not sure what the original premise was when this concept was created, and the project was started. As mentioned, I was just handed this and told to create and produce a comic book of it. That was all the direction I was given but I was fine with that as I enjoy being creative and taking ideas and bringing them to completion.
Here’s another clip of Slimer accidentally releasing Slug, Snarg and Zunk from the containment unit compared to Richard’s comic pages drawn from the same script. It’s incredible to see almost 2 minutes of animation condensed into 4 pages of comic art.
Joe- I’m glad you mentioned there was only a script for “Ghosts R Us” and no visual reference material because I’ve always wanted to ask about the obvious differences between the ghosts in the episode and the ghosts you drew for the comic.
The ghost family (consisting of Slug, Snarg and Zonk) look very different in your art to how they did in the episode:
Richard-That’s correct; there was no reference for the episode at all. I was simply told to read the script and design the characters myself. The only reference I received was for the core group, Stay Puft, The Firehouse, Ecto 1, and The equipment. The rest was down to me.
Joe- Can you recall how many issues were planned and did work start on any others?
Richard- They wanted to do a continuing series adapting the episodes but Ghosts R Us was the only episode worked on. If it had gone to print, it would have likely ran alongside the show for as long as it was popular and selling. For that first issue, I got a script and was asked to “Take this, adapt it, and make it into a comic”, which I subsequently did. In some ways I was my own editor.
Joe- How many different pages did you draw from memory?
Richard- Initially I thought there were only 10 pages finished with Frank Mclaughlin inking five of them but between my files and your detective work it does indeed appear that we had about double that amount inked or ready to be inked. You can of course see that many of the pages were unfinished and the story itself was never fully completed.
Joe- Was a cover ever drawn and if so, what did it look like?
Richard- No, a cover was never drawn because from memory I think the plan was for the book to have a photo cover of the cast from the movie or possibly a still from the cartoon.
Joe- You mentioned earlier that Frank McLaughlin inked your pages, did you ever get to meet him while working on the title?
Richard- Oh yes I knew him well. Frank was actually my teacher since I was 13 years old. He used to teach cartooning at the YMCA in Westport CT. Frank was also a black belt and instructor in Judo which is one of the reasons he created Judo Master published by Charlton. Side note is that I didn’t learn Judo from Frank. All joking aside, I am honored to say that I knew Frank for many years and we worked well together as a team.
Joe- One of the reasons I asked you to take part in this interview is because the Real Ghostbusters community is largely unaware that it was Lodestone publishing that originally held the licence for a Real Ghostbusters comic in the US prior to NOW comics, and to this day people still question that fact. I thought it was about time we confirmed it once and for all and who better to do so than the artist involved in the project!
I’ve had a little bit of information about the comic on the site for years so I’m curious to know if you’ve ever had any fans ask you about it in the past?
Richard- No, that’s never happened, although it’s hardly surprising given how little information there is out there on the internet about the project other than your website but I can 100% verify that Lodestone was the first to have The Ghostbusters contract.
Lodestone wanted to become the new Gold Key Comics. There were many attempts from publishers to do that, including myself.
If I remember correctly, Lodestone had a deal with a distributor on the Honeymooners but the book only sold well in the tri-state area. This hurt them financially and this was one of several reasons why The Real Ghostbusters never came out.
Joe- Did the project die purely because of financial reasons?
Richard- Yes, Lodestone had run into a ton of financial issues and their investor didn’t want to invest anymore money into it. If they had, Lodestone probably would have been a success.
They guaranteed both Viacom for The Honeymooners and Columbia for The Real Ghostbusters royalties in six figure numbers with a huge advance but they owed the printer a huge amount from their sister company Deluxe Comics. The distributors went under and there was a lot of mismanagement. All of that combined spelled for disaster.
Joe- What was your reaction upon finding out that your work on the title wasn’t going into print and how often does that type of thing happen in the comic book industry?
Richard- I expected it but I followed through on my word that I would finish the task given to me. I had a feeling about what was going on at the time but took the chance as you never know. I also remember warning Frank. The signs were definitely there.
Unfortunately that kind of thing happens all the time in comics. Some publishers are big fans but don’t know how to handle the behind-the-scenes issues. Financial issues like lack of funding aside, lots of comic projects are hurt either by missed deadlines or creators and that leads to problems that inevitably prevents books from coming out.
Joe- Have you ever had the opportunity to draw any other licenced artwork for the Real Ghostbusters since the Lodestone publishing project? (And if not, would you if given the chance?)
Richard- No but I would have loved to be involved in the property. In fact, at one point I had everything in place to get the contract myself, but the owners wanted the same deal with the six figures up front, so that did not work out.
Joe- What projects are you currently working on and what can people look out for in the future from you?
Richard- I just finished working on a book called Jetta Raye Adventure for Totally Gallactic Comics. Jetta was based on a comic published in the 50s and was illustrated by Dan Decarlo. It’s like the Jetsons meets Archie.
I’m working on a romance book with Barbara Friedlander for next year. Barbara wrote all those romance books for DC Comics in the 70s. She wants to revive the romance comics genre which I think we need in comics.
Finally, I’m working on a book about my father Alex Maurizio. He was a photographer during the madman era and was ahead of his time. I have such amazing photos of different famous celebs including Ted Williams, Norman Rockwell, and various other pieces he worked on.
I enjoy meeting fellow patrons and artists and doing conventions affords me this opportunity. I would love to take this opportunity to say that I’m available for commissions on Instagram @maurizioink2 and would be happy to draw some Real Ghostbusters artwork if anyone is interested, here’s a Slimer sample:
Overall, I’m keeping busy and doing what I love.
Richard, I really hope that this interview in some ways makes up for the fact that your involvement with the Real Ghostbusters has largely gone unnoticed over the years, it’s been a real pleasure to chat to you!
Richard- Thank you Joe, I appreciate the opportunity you have given me. It was fun talking about this project and I am glad I was able to share my side of the story.
So there you have it, the full story about the Lodestone Real Ghostbusters comic from the artist himself, Richard Maurizio.
If you want to get on the commission list of the first EVER Real Ghostbusters comic book artist, connect with Richard via Instagram!