Mrmichaelt, Administrator for Ghostbusters Wiki, joined the wiki on September 28, 2010. Among his many accomplishments; has rebuilt the animated section of the wiki, maintains the IDW section of the wiki and updates the section with each issue, developed the amazing Ghostbusters Timelines project, plus many other things. Celebrating his 10th anniversary at the wiki, Mrmichaelt has been interviewed, answering many questions. (Interview Conducted by Matthew Jordan aka: Devilmanozzy.)
1. Before the wiki, what was your background in regards to the Ghostbusters Fandom? What was your first experience with Ghostbusters?
I was born in the mid-80s and Ghostbusters has been in my memories since as far back as I can remember. Now what exactly the first Ghostbusters title I watched is a bit harder to track. The two earliest things that are etched into my memory is the cold open of Ghostbusters II with the Psychomagnotheric Slime pulsing through the crack in the sidewalk and the epic finale battle between Slimer and Copycat in the "The Copycat" episode of The Real Ghostbusters. So I think I saw Ghostbusters II before I saw the original! I was always up really early on Saturday mornings to watch the cartoons, if at all possible I had my mother tape episodes on this thing called VHS, listened to the soundtrack record albums of both movies non-stop, and dressed up head to toe in the Kenner gear and trapped "ghosts" around the house. A lot of the toys I had growing up has been lost to the ravages of time but in the 2010s, I found my old Kenner Firehouse and Ecto-1 while rummaging through one of my parents' rooms in preparation for moving and I've held onto them to this day.
2. Assuming you've been a fan since childhood, what kept your interest in Ghostbusters all these years later?
I admit there was a period when my love of Ghostbusters went into hibernation. After that "torturous" year of coming from school and hoping my VHS successfully timer recorded episodes of Extreme Ghostbusters, my interests and focus moved into other directions like getting into high school, taking up sports, joining clubs, getting into college, and all the things that encompass being a young adult within reason and very close to the parameters of the law. So basically from 1998 to most of 2008, I thought very little about Ghostbusters.
It was definitely the surge of Ghostbusters in the late 2000s that reawakened my passion for the franchise. I read in magazines about Ghostbusters: The Video Game and Time Life's DVD box set for The Real Ghostbusters. I totally remember voting for the Firehouse design. Then one day when I was hanging in my local comic book shop, I was leafing through Diamond's latest Previews issue and discovered Peter David was writing a Halloween-themed Ghostbusters one-shot called "What in Samhain Just Happened?!" At the time, I had no idea there were comics nor the past attempts by other companies around the same time. But I liked David because of his past work like DC's Young Justice series so I asked the person running the shop to order me a copy. Usually I'm really picky about artists and I had no clue who this guy named Dan Schoening was but once I opened that comic, I was blown away and the rest is history.
3. When did you become aware of the wiki, and what interested you about the ongoing project?
I guess we have Google to thank. It was late 2010 I think and I was looking for any info and images on Ghostbusters: The Video Game aside from gaming sites like GameFAQ. Names of ghosts on The Real Ghostbusters. That sort of thing and I stumbled onto the wiki. And the wiki honestly wasn't in good shape. Didn't have a lot of articles, some were badly written, there weren't a lot of references and citations. I clearly remember thinking to myself, "Who the hell let this site turn into a sinking ship?" So it was really anger that got me into joining the wiki and editing, ha ha. At the time, I hated wikis and preferred the smaller fan-sites run by one or two people because I believed, and still do, it's very easy for a wiki to falter and spread disinformation because it can devolve into a tribalism and truth by consensus rather than how it should, truth by fact. I guess you could say comparable to what Ron thinks of government in "Parks and Rec."
4. What was the project of rebooting the animated section of the wiki (The Real Ghostbusters, Slimer!, Extreme Ghostbusters) like? What all went into it?
Those were the dark times. I'm still in denial about the volume of what I got done. The cartoons are just as important a foundation in the franchise as the movies were so it felt really crucial to really expand that portion of the wiki the best I could and it was the opportunity to make the wiki feel big and a true resource for fans. I tried to attack it like 'how do I want to organize and present this wiki to myself if I were just a fan trying to find info?' I imagine it's like writing a textbook for a topic that always needs updating. So a lot of time, health, energy really did go into it. A lot of planning and prep time. I'm pretty sure I ruined a lot of DVD players rewatching episodes who knows how many times and taking down hundreds of pages of notes while I rewound or how many DV-R drives I burned out with all the screen grabs I took. A lot of paper, Pilot G-2 pens and Sharpie highlighters gave their life to transcribe the information that goes into these articles. That's my habit, I have to transcribe it on paper first. There's a Rubbermaid plastic storage container in a closet that's filled to the brim with just a stack of those notes. It was during this project when I probably realized for the first time that volunteering my time at the wiki was going to be a second full time job but with the caveat that it was unpaid. And I would be getting very little sleep and working into the early morning day after day. It's a second job but worth it unlike most I've quit.
5. It's no secret that you love the ongoing IDW Ghostbusters series. What elements are you looking forward to continuing in the next year or two? What are your feelings on Kevin Tanaka?
It has its moments. I'm really conflicted about what I want to see. On one hand, I'm very eager to see the Ghostbusters go up against these Predators that Tiamat talked about in the Crossing Over maxi-series and will Ray figure out a way to safely remove Jenny Moran from the Containment Unit? I'm wondering if 2021 is finally the year Erik Burnham fulfills a promise to Dan to do a Christmas annual featuring Krampus. Or will Chi-You, Rodefhiri or the Sandman return to exact revenge? Could there be surprise returns by gods like Hel or Aibell, could be. Will Special Agent Holtzmann finally make her debut? And last but not least, there's my, I guess, unhealthy love for the Chicago Ghostbusters. I'm always down to see more of them. Of course, there's the white elephant in the room with Afterlife. I wouldn't object to seeing the comic integrate the gunner seat into Ecto-1. I can see Ray doing it just because it would be fun, not for any strategic reasons during a bust on the go.
On the other hand, I ended up really loving the Year One mini-series after some initial concerns that it could be too revisionist and hurt the movie canon. That anecdote of when Ray and Egon first met was really special and is in my top 3 favorite moments of the overall comic series since Erik took over as the writer. I'd kill to see more of Year One as there's so many other things they could explore in year one. They only explored the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the surge in calls they dealt with after catching Slimer. They could go explore when Peter and Ray first met. They could do a longer Janine story similar to Winston's issue and expanding on that 2 parter in Volume 2. Heck, they could do a Year Six or Seven mini-series set during/after the events of Ghostbusters II. They could do a Year Nine about the IDW canon's version of Ghostbusters: The Video Game. The possibilities are endless. Year One also satisfied my hope to see the series get back to basics so to speak and get away from the crossovers. I get the crossovers are IDW's bread and butter and they've saved the Ghostbusters comics over the years but I was burnt out on them and no real desire to see another one even though it's been almost a year since the finale of the most recent one, the Transformers one (sorry Erik!).
Kevin. Tanaka. Y'know, I still can't believe that happened. I'm just some dude that spends way too much time on a wiki. To be acknowledged like that and become a part of canon is both humbling and mind boggling. I didn't know that was going to happen. It was a complete surprise. Dan just asked me for a reference photo out of the blue. I figured I would be for a hard to see face in a crowd. Then Ghostbusters International #3 was about to come out. You [Devilmanozzy] sent me an email while you were going over the preview pages. I was intrigued and wanted to know what you were being so cryptic about. I got a panel! And Ghostbusters International #4 came out and I think my soul left its body temporarily when it was apparent Kevin would be a recurring character. I love Kevin, but he's an ideal version of me at best. It's scary how close his dialogue is to how I talk. I never told Erik this. But in that issue when he meets the ATC team and Erin flips out on Kevin and Kevin quips he gets by, I had a very similar experience of being mistaken for a different Michael but in a bar really close to when that issue came out in stores and I was weirded out. Or Dan, he only had like two reference photos of me and it was amazing yet again scary how close he got to making Kevin look like me. Not even considering my connection to Kevin, the backstory of his handicap and firefighter family was really intriguing. His love of Boston sports not so much. It was very moving to see him connect to Garrett Parker and empathize with his father's situation. I'd never beg Erik for it, but it would be cool if someday PCOC signs off on letting Kevin use the ghostbusting equipment. More so since Janine is now part of the machine.
6. The IDW section being your home section of the wiki. What goes into adding information on a comic, the prep work and ongoing details?
It's become very regimented. I'm basically on lockdown on new comic Wednesday. Phones off. TV off. When an issue comes out that Wednesday, I go to my local comic shop where I have a standing order and buy the A and B covers then race home. I read the issue once. I buy the digital version and get the pages. I do my daily exercising. Come back. Transcribe the whole issue and note the easter eggs on paper. One issue is normally one piece of printer paper back and front. Then I get out my highlighters and start marking up the transcript. Yellow for information that can be used in an article(s), blue for characters/equipment/items/environmental/locations when they first appear in the issue, green for references and pop culture/movie/video game easter eggs. Pink for cartoon (RGB, EGB, S!) easter eggs. Orange for anything that be used for the timeline project. Purple for Luis Antonio Delgado's 15 easter egg(s). After that I start the preparation phase, and open an office document file and start organizing ahead of time what you see on article pages, the crew names in the infobox, the sections for characters/equipment/items/environmental/locations, and the trivia section. Then I'm sifting through the wiki and Google to identify Dan's easter eggs. After an hour or two and yelling "Why Dan?! What is this?!" then I recover and organize data from the transcript. One piece of paper acts as a mock up of the sections that list the characters, equipment, items, environmental, and locations on the issue articles. Another piece of paper is all the timeline data, that I jot down in a numbered list. Black ink for present events, red for past events, and blue for future events. And I do whatever calculations that have to be done. Another piece of paper is for the names of all the image files and on the night of editing, I highlight them as a check for myself that I used this image I uploaded. Another piece of paper, is for whatever research. Like if Erik uses a real New York location, I do some cursory research for data that I would use for the article's infobox or opening blurb. I go back to the pages from the digital edition and start grabbing images that I upload to the wiki. For that I just use Paint.net's image editing software. I can easily get a 100 images per issue. Then I send out emails to editor supreme Tom Waltz if I spot a typo (I'm sure he loves those emails), Erik if I need to clarify anything (I know writers love explaining what a line means), and with Dan and Luis I confer with them about the easter eggs. Dan's knowledge of pop culture and Ghostbusters lore truly frightens me sometimes. Then I keep investigating unknown references. Sometimes I bug you [Devilmanozzy] especially when it comes to obscure merchandise. That's day one. Easily 10-12 hours.
On Thursday and Friday, I'm still sifting around trying to figure out easter eggs but I only spend an hour or two. By Friday, I essentially stop myself. Because you can go bonkers trying to document all these references. If I can whittle it down to 10 I fail to identify, that's a victory. Dan has the ongoing list of these easter eggs I never was able to identify and he's a very big help in giving me hints and confirming some guesses I'm not 100 percent with. I have gone through some issues where I found everything, and it feels really, really good. Then sometimes, I'm doing the most random thing like raking leaves or cleaning out a gutter 2 months later and it hits me. "That box on the locker was the Milton Bradley 100 piece Real Ghostbusters jigsaw puzzle. The one where Stay Puft is chasing them!" And so over the 4 month spoiler restriction, I return to the prep file and start the real prep work. All those notes I took down on paper, I type them up. For the individual articles like Egon or Peter or the Firehouse, the trivia, the projects, and the crew. I do all that ahead of time in this file so on the night of adding content from that issue to the wiki, all I'm doing is copy-pasting into the articles and uploading the images. Prep takes me anywhere from 3-4 days, a couple hours every day, to complete. Then I have word document files for the trivia by title. So like there's one file that just all the Real Ghostbusters trivia by issue that I copy paste into the RGB page's Trivia section on the night of editing. One file for GB1. One for GB2. One for the Video Game. One for ATC. One for the Firehouse article. One for Kenner toys. One for RGB. One for Extreme Ghostbusters. One for Slimer! and one for Sanctum of Slime. Getting all this prep and anticipating what articles get edited ahead of time is for efficiency. Then on the actual night of editing at the wiki and adding everything from that one issue 4 months later, that takes me 4-8 hours to complete start to finish. 8 being something like the annuals because they're larger in content. At some point, I have to pause and eat dinner and do chores then I finish things off. If I didn't prep ahead, I dare not think how I could get it done.
7. What wiki articles that you started or updated heavily are you most proud of?
I wouldn't know where to start...they're all my children, ha ha. I guess it would probably be the Timeline Project. Those are basically the history books of the canons! I imagine very few are that crazy to try and organize it all into a chronology.
8. How has Ghostbusters Wiki affected your interest in of franchises/topics and their related fandoms? What other projects have you worked on?
To only post in other wiki's forums. Ha ha. I haven't really thought about that but I do help a little with the Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki's timeline discussions. The only other thing that rivals my love for Ghostbusters and the Marvel Cinematic Universe is I really love animation based on DC Comics like Young Justice or the streaming series Harley Quinn. I also grew up watching stuff like Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond.
9. Weird hypothetical, but if somehow IDW and DC did a crossover with Ghostbusters and Batman or Justice League, how would you go about it (story, characters utilized)?
I rarely indulge in hypotheticals but DC has a lot of supernatural lore to mine. I could easily see the Ghostbusters paired with DC characters like Zatanna, Constantine, and Deadman. Peter and Constantine would be at each other's throats. Egon wouldn't stop scanning Deadman. Maybe Zatanna would be the one to finally shut Peter's mouth with a spell. I don't know, maybe the Ghostbusters finally track down Gareth Dibello in the DC dimension and they cross over to recapture him but Justice League Dark is in the middle of looking into a supernatural murder spree caused by Dibello. Somehow things go awry and Dibello becomes more than a handful.
10. Do you feel like the Ghostbusters Wiki/franchise has, in one way or another, changed your life?
The franchise has always been a part of my life really. The lesson of the first movie to me was always to not be afraid of the unknown, press forward and face it head on with intelligence and humor. And everyone has the potential to do something great with their life, even a misfit group of four friends who everyone else thinks are a bunch of nut jobs.
I would have never guessed I would be talking to comic book creatives over email. Made into a character working for the Ghostbusters. Given free things to review. Being invited to a fan commentary (that I had to turn down). Being able to reach out to Eric Reich for help within reason. Or being an administrator of a wiki for that matter. Still being at the wiki 10 years later.
11. It seems that the 1980s were a "special time" for movies. What are your thoughts on this?
A lot of the movies on my shelf are from the 80s. It's my golden age, the go-to classics really. Those were my formative years. Many PG-13 and R movies I shouldn't have watched at that age but probably shaped who I am today for better or worse. I think you always hold your first decade and all the things you experienced close to your heart for the rest of your life.
12. Best and worst experience you have had editing at the Wiki?
You know what they all are, Matthew. You said we'd never talk about them again. Ha ha. I somehow still have a full head of hair. Okay, I'll say one each. One of the worst, was being full on plagiarized a couple times. One of the best experiences was without a doubt when we got the wiki certified with Ghost Corps. There was a hand written note from Eric Reich on his card stock thanking me for all the work I've done on the wiki so far. I don't do things for extrinsic reasons, I like the challenge of it. But it's nice when someone up in the 'heavens' occasionally takes notice and gives a fist bump.
13. What's your opinion on the Ghostbusters franchise as it continuing on (other than the IDW Comics)?
It's very easy for me. Does it involve ghosts? Yes. Does it involve Proton Packs? Yes. Will we know who we're gonna call? Yes. Sold. I'll watch it. Sure, when news about Afterlife came out my Junior Ghostbusters PTSD resurfaced. But once that trailer dropped, I was all in. It's going to be cathartic, heartwarming, bittersweet... it's funny when they were trying to do a third Ghostbusters in the early 2010s, I fancasted Paul Rudd and Kate McKinnon as new Ghostbusters who take up the torch. I could never settle on a third or fourth. If anything, I'm still waiting for the day when I have to say, "There's too many Ghostbusters TV shows on right now, they should cut back."
Interview Conducted by Matthew Jordan (aka: Devilmanozzy).