By Ed Sum
(The Arcane Collector of Spiritual Lore)
Only the deathly curious will want to investigate the differences between Insight Edition‘s version of Tobin’s Spirit Guide with New Occult Review’s. Well, maybe a die-hard Ghostbuster will want to keep both editions nearby. In what one edition has, I wished the other also echoed. The latter pays closer attention to some of the jargon used in the original films — The “class” is defined, from level one, where these entities are regarded as “babies” of the ghost world to seven, where they are known as “metaspectres” — these are essentially god-like entities capable of destroying planets.
Many types are defined to organise the spirits world into specific categories. There are Apparitions, Banshees, Boogas, Doppelgangers, Dreads. Frights, Phantoms, Poltergeists, Spiritis, Spooks, Sprites, Vapors and Trolls (now try memorizing that and saying it backwards!). Most of the definitions are quickly defined, with very little examples from literary or folklore offered. I would have loved an entry about the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall.
Other entities that I expect any Ghostbuster to encounter include coming across The Wild Hunt or The Headless Horseman. Anyone visiting Bettiscombe (located near Dorset, England) will know of the Screaming Skull residing there.
Technically, the author, John Horace Tobin must know of them. To this book’s discredit is a bit of biography taken nearly word for word from the Ghostbusters Wiki. He was born in London on October 3rd, 1870, where he studied at both Oxford and Cambridge. He sounds like a character H.P. Lovecraft would love. Tobin has a degree in Obscure Ancient Languages and Psychology, and like Houdini, spent his time exposing fake mediums. More detail is offered in the stories from NOW and IDW comics, to which I may have to start searching for reprints to look at.
Tobin must have been more interested in writing a quick summary of the gods, demons and spirits he’s run across in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them fashion than to study each haunting, and author a truly encyclopaedic entry. Some details are accurate to what other tomes offer, but the material is scant. This book only offers origins and a few minor facts about each entity. Nothing is said in how to defeat them. Of course, the big nasties from the movies, Gozer and Vigo the Carpathian, get more than a simple entry. This book has certain entries with amendments from the Raymond Stanz, Egon Spengler and Peter Venkman. Some footnotes exist, commented on by the Ghostbusters, and others are just tacked on to exist alongside Tobin’s material. Some demons, like Iak-Sakkak, are from Simon’s Necronomicon, and others come from dusty fragments that I’m not even aware of, and I consider my knowledge of other occult books good. Just how much crossover exists required me going through this book with a fine tooth comb. The Mad Arab speaks of this entity too in his edition, and no book can be considered complete without mention of Yog Sothoth. Oddly, Cthulhu or
This book has certain entries with footnotes from the Raymond Stanz, Egon Spengler and Peter Venkman. Most of this material are tacked on to exist alongside Tobin’s material. Some demons, like Iak-Sakkak, are from Simon’s (who?) Necronomicon, and others come from dusty fragments that I’m not even aware of, and I consider my knowledge of other occult books good. Just how much crossover exists required me going through this book with a fine tooth comb. The Mad Arab speaks of this entity too in his edition, and no book can be considered complete without mention of Yog Sothoth. Oddly, Cthulhu or Cathulhu from the animation gets no love.
All the principal figures from the films are nicely referenced in this book. Tobin went out of his way to reference divinities who are not that as well-known, like Donar, a Teutonic deity who shares similar roles as Thor. Although this Norse god is not given an entry, there’s a bit of unevenness in which divinities deserves a mention. Unless they played a role in the Ghostbusters universe in a dark sense, perhaps Tobin (or the Ghostbusters) decided this 2016 edition does not need to mention him. Students of the occult will notice many of the demons from The Lesser Key of Solomon are referenced. Unlike this other book, Tobin’s guide does not teach readers how to summon and control them. Owning these other occult tomes are required in order to learn how to disperse these creatures too. The tips offered in this guide’s section on Tribal Spirit Histories is too generic. I wondered why handling Egyptian threats require knowledge of the Kabalah instead of Khemetic (the traditional magic of the Egyptians).
As a book which contains additions by the Ghostbusters team, this volume will never be complete. New threats will always exist when IDW is now publishing Ghostbusters: International. Maybe one day, John and Jane Q Public will see that 35-pound book when more challenges emerge and they must be warned of those awakened dangers. For now, that original document is locked away, and all we have are these two publisher’s pocket guides. While Insight’s is very polished and treats the topic succinctly, the other is like a huge Wikipedia write-up; constant editing and revisions are needed with this New Occult Review’s presentation.
After studying these book with my weary eyes (I’m penning this under the light of a candle), my attention is now shifting to a different edition the group of fans from Ghostbusters Italy created. Either I need to learn Italian, or I just have to wait for them to translate it to English. The fandom site, Ghostbusters International reported that such an edition is in the works. I can’t wait!