Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ghostbusters Debuted at ACG?

In 1967 the gates of iconic Chicago amusement park Riverview closed forever, and in 1967 the last titles of the American Comics Group appeared on newsstands; Riverview had been thrilling roller coaster riders since 1904 and ACG had been entertaining comic book readers since 1943. I did get to visit Riverview a few times but I never once bought an ACG comic off the stands. (I went on, however, to purchase a sizable number of issues of Forbidden Worlds and Adventures into the Unknown from back issue bins, drawn to the titles by the fact that their stable of artistic talent included Kurt Schaffenberger and Steve Ditko.)

Last weekend the Hope X convention for computer hackers convened in New York City, and one of the speakers was Edward Snowden (although Mr. Snowden did not appear in person, of course). Bill Degnan was another of the speakers and Mr. Degnan projected slides of an ACG cover and splash page, as shown above and below (from February 1964's Adventures into the Unknown #146; a clearer view of the cover is available over here).

Mr. Degnan is a professor of computer history and runs the site . The gentleman spoke at Hope X about some of the historical items he is currently investigating. He opened up with how the calculator industry became the computer industry, and then his focus shifted to the comic book shown above. "The Ghost-Killer Who Vanished" was written by ACG editor Richard E. Hughes (as "Kurato Osaki," just one of that gentleman's eleven (!) pseudonyms) and drawn by Chic Stone (who was making a name for himself as a great inker for some Jack Kirby stories at Marvel around this same time). The Ghost-Killer story featured a company that was ridiculed for hunting ghosts and it featured ectoplasm/slime and it featured a vintage Cadillac hearse/ambulance. The milieu sounds a bit familiar, doesn't it? That's correct,  Mr. Degnan has traced the origins of 1984's blockbuster film Ghostbusters to this unassuming little comic book story. Writer and star Dan Aykroyd is credited with "coming up with" the story for Ghostbusters in spite of the fact that the gist of his story had been published in this ACG comic book twenty years prior.

You never can tell what you'll uncover when you start looking into the history of things around you. Ups, downs, ins, outs. Research can be every bit as thrilling as a ride on The Bobs. At Riverview!


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