By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Ghostbusters fans now have three versions of “Tobin’s Spirit Guide” to tap into for getting caught up in all this film’s paranormal lore. One is an out-of-print role-playing games supplement by West End Games for players to use in games (the ghosts are organized by country of origin) and the other two — one tries to be a complete volume of knowledge (sorted alphabetically) and the other abridged (put into categories of ascending danger). The forward in this latest version by Insight Editions tells readers that this pocket guide is meant to provide the essentials of who is recently haunting New York City and the Eastern Seaboard.
Anyone wishing to gaze at the authoritative edition should make a sanity roll (like in the “Call of Cthulhu” RPG by Chaosium Inc) in order not to prematurely age while spending years to absorb all the knowledge in the 35-pound tome — of which these published editions are based. Between these smaller books, each entity’s origins and classification are offered. For the daring, just where to locate them are also provided. Just who wants to seek them out must be fearless though.
While I’m curious in what the New Occult Reviews edition (boasting 270 pages) offers, hopefully this edition will emerge in used bookstores at a cheap price. $20 (MSRP) may not seem like much, but when it’s often described as poorly written, lacking illustrations and needing an editor, maybe $15 is a better price tag. This publishing company may well have plenty of copies sitting on dusty bookshelves — which I’ve manged to find to review separately — while the other version catches people’s eyes because it’s an “official” product.
While shades of H.P. Lovecraft‘s world comes to mind at this moment, I must note that the Insight edition references Cathulhu and other entities from the animation and comics. That alone makes this version worth the catch! The Bogeyman and The Sandman are included in the section about meta-entities.
96 pages may not seem like much to absorb, but this book does the job for getting fans of the 80’s material up to date before the film. Although Paul Feig‘s product is said to be a reboot, an explanation is required to answer why “Subway Specters” and “Slimer” exists in this Feig-verse. As for whether or not his film ties into the past lore at all, another edition is going to be required to explain the introduction of the many ghosts hitting Times Square.
In the meantime, for those people interested in the lore which exists in this paradigm — our universe — I highly recommend the three-volume Three Volume Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained. It’s lofty, but with chapters which include the religious view of how the afterlife works to spirit mediumship to urban myths, the information presented is very comprehensive. I feel it is required reading for those who are serious in the study of the occult.
The material offered in Tobin’s guide feels more lighthearted and lacking in meaty texture for the academic to love. While a few entries, like the entry about the Grey Lady (The Librarian Ghost), are good, others are lacking. I would have loved more info on everyone’s favourite spud, Slimer.