Lengthy Previous Discussion
Longtime readers know this already--but as many things as I like about Ghostbusters
, if I had to pick one single element that grabbed my attention, it was the weird budding romance between Egon Spengler and Janine Melnitz. It led to some touching scenes in the first movie, and the writers of the animated series--most notably J. Micheal Straczynski, Micheal Reeves, and Richard Mueller---took it and ran with it, deepening and defining them into possibly my favorite couple in popular fiction.
Well, to the consternation of fans everywhere, Harold Ramis disowned the idea and created the gut-churningly dumb Janine/Louis Tully romance in the sequel. An idea that was, in turn, disowned by Straczynski, comic writer James Van Hise, the producers of Extreme Ghostbusters
, and even later licensees such as the 88MPH mini-series. Not to mention a vast majority of the writers of fan fiction that have helped keep the flame burning in the years since.
(The iBooks novel The Return
was the sole exception, but even they, intentionally or not, had some material that could be construed as pro-Egon/Janine).
Well, after exploring the very beginning of their relationship in Fateful Opportunity
, it's highs in The Zodiac Imperative
, it's fall in As Dreams Fade
, and it's rebirth in Dreams Reborn
, it is time for the event so many have waited for.Ghostbusters: Forever
1998--Timeline Year Sixteen
After fifteen years (or twenty two, depending on how you look at it) of confusion, denial, reversal, and dark moments of dispair, the long-awaited day has come for one brilliant physicist and one spirited secretary to celebrate the love that bind their souls together. At long last, the wedding of Professor Egon Spengler and Ms. Janine Melnitz.
And check out the "cover" variant of the opening picture:http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/28197153/
LINER NOTES FOR "FOREVER"
I"m gonna admit it--I was extremely nervous about releasing "Forever". It seemed like a lot of anticipation had built up around this story, so how could I not be afraid that the final result wouldn't live up to everyone's expectations?
Well, it seems to have been embraced by the people who've read it, so let me clear the air and offer some insights on some of the subtleties of this story...
Let's start with the wedding picture.
One comment had been posted noticing "If this takes place in 1998, why is Janine in her RGB hairstyle instead of her EGB one?" This is explained in the story, as Janine deliberately went back to that haircut as a wedding surprise for Egon. And the fans, who considered that her best look anyway.
I recieved a lot of comment about the colors--I admitted there were some deliberate choices there, and now I'm gonna show you why the sashes and such are the colors they are. Remember, Egon's tie and cummerbund are orange, Janine's sash and earrings are pinkish, and then look at these pictures:http://www.ectozone.com/images/egon.htmlhttp://www.ectozone.com/images/janine.html
Did you catch it? They're wearing each other's trim color
Janine's flight suit is trimmed in orange (I use the one seen in Now's RGB#22), Egon's is of course trimmed in pinkish. So Egon is wearing her orange, Janine is wearing his pink. Does that make that clearer?
Some people noticed the list of names on the dedication...and one name conspicuously absent, namely Harold Ramis. Yes, indeed, this was intentional. He tried his best to kill this relationship in Ghostbusters 2
, and I'm sorry--he is still listed at the end, of course, as Egon's creator and the writer of the first movie--but his irresponsible handling of said character forfeited his spot in my affections enough to lead to his ommission. Some of the innuendo about Edison and Uncle Cyrus maybe not approving--but Egon going ahead with it anyway--was also intended as a subtle statement on the matter. Ramis was wrong about this. If he'd admit as such, I'd edit him in in a heartbeat.
Since we're mentioning the movie actors, I pretty much decided he'd decline attending the wedding for much the same reasons--as well as fear. One of the funniest fan fics I ever read was one by Mary Morris called "Wrath of A Redhead", where Janine had sworn to kill him for the way he wrote her as though she were a drugged out slut in the sequel.
Bill Murray didn't attend because he's an ass and is often embarrassed by his association with the Ghostbusters. But I assure you Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson had a great time.
One of the areas I was extremely nervous about was the extensive use, throughout the first part of the story, of flashbacks. But in the end, I decided that they were just simply necessary--necessary to establish the context, to show just exactly why Peter Venkman starts blubbering like a baby once the "I do's" are finally said. And it wasn't all totally rehashes of material previously written--I threw in a couple of "new" flashbacks, adapting pertinate official canon
material that many might not have seen before. The scene in "The Land Unknonwn" (RGB#16) that served as the first official veto of GB2. And "The Crawler", which was indeed tweaked just a tad to make it work better with both the official canon (Egon had already admitted he loved her seven years before, in "Janine You've Changed") and the fan continuity built to explain the RGB/EGB discrepancies. (He didn't know for sure if she'd remembered everything, per "As Dreams Fade", and that she had any feeling for him still after all that happened)
And nobody had noticed, or at least made me aware they'd noticed, the pattern to the flashbacks. There are actually two tracks: one starts with December 1997, the fan fic "Dreams Reborn", and works backwards. The other starts with "Fateful Opportunity" and GB1 and works forward. They criss-cross with each other and the wedding preparations, until the two tracks of flashbacks meet in January 1990. The critical moment where Egon battled for Janine's soul with a creature from the pits, and defeated it not with his proton pack (which he literally threw away) but with the simple truth burning within him. That he loves her.
And then, of course, the flashback to "Janine You've Changed" is followed by the actual ceremony.
I'd made use of the "lucky coins" before--my favorite deleted scene by far. Heck, the very first fan fic I ever posted, back on GBN, was "Fateful Encounter", which used that bit of backstory (in somewhat Silver Age DC fashion) to spin a little time travel yarn and the destined couple's "real" first meeting at the 1964 World's Fair. I brought them up again in "Nodus" and "Dreams Reborn". So naturally they appear here at the final completion of the circle of fate.
One thing a couple of readers picked up on was the use of some very similar dialog when Egon and Janine are seperately talking to their families. It's designed to show how on the same wavelength those two are now, how deeply they've influenced each other that they're starting to think alike. There have even been some times in other stories where they finish each other's sentences, things I've seen people do.
Their similar declarations also serve to crystalize that each had lived life without each other. Egon lived the life of pure logic some think he should live. Janine went off with Louis the way Ramis and a small minority of fans think she should. And they hated it.
I admit I tried to minimize the use of fan fic characters, to keep the event a little more "universal", but as this does
take place in the GBOT/Ectozone universe, the appearance of Jen Spengler, as Egon's niece, was an absolute must. Vincent Belmont had been established by his work and "Hearts In Eclipse", so while his part isn't large, he's there.
Friends and Family:
Well, I'll leave aside Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Winston Zeddemore, because you KNOW who they are...
Fritz Melnitz appeared in the TV episode "Janine's Day Off", but wasn't named. And yeah, I admit, when I wrote the Timeline I gave him my penname as an in-joke. I hadn't forseen, at the time, appearing as "myself" in the GBWC fan fictions, or having my name out there (I was known as "Veedramon" when I first made the Timeline public, after all)
Denise Melnitz--like her husband, appeared and unnamed in "Janine's Day Off". Yeah, she's named after an ex love interest of mine c.1998, when I first started creating the Timeline.
Katharine Melton Spengler. Appeared in "Til Death Do Us Part" (ironically enough) and "Ghost World. Her first name I decided to keep from stories of fan fiction legend Shiela Paulson; her maiden name is my own invention.
Dr. Edison Spengler. Whether he appears here or not is open for interpretation, but the name is my own invention. Years and years ago, I called him Newton. Shiela Paulson called him Elliot or Edwin. Since, to be honest, I didn't like either of her names I split the difference and called him Edison, which is close to Edwin but keeps the scientist tribute idea of Newton.
Deann Irwin--appeared but unnamed in "Janine's Day Off." Janine specifically mentions a sister in another episode (I forget which one). I again named her after a former coworker (though not a Love Interest)
Victor Irwin. Appears in "Janine's Day Off", but isn't actually named. However, Janine mentions having a nephew named Victor in "Victor the Happy Ghost." Following Ockham's Razor, I made them the same guy and Janine's sister his Mom.
Joshua Irwin. Appears in "Janine's Day Off" but not named. I freely admit the character seen there looks enough like Fritz Melnitz that he MIGHT have been intended as a brother, but since one is never actually mentioned I decided that Deann followed the old Conventional Wisdom about finding a man who reminded her of her father.
Dr. Cyrus Spengler. Appeared in "Cry Uncle"
Dr. Ellis Spengler. He's Egon's half brother, from a prior relationship Edison Spengler had before he married Katharine; his mother died either in childbirth or when Ellis was a baby, and Ellis was raised mostly by her family instead of his father. This was a solution Jen agreed to to both respect the canon that strongly implies Egon is an only child (he's raised as one, and he is still Katharine's only child), while allowing him to have a niece.
Marie Cavendish Rosenfeld. Janine mentions a friend named Marie who was dating an orthodontist in one episode (the note I have from Labidolemur doesn't say which one), which by 1998 she's married and had two kids with. I used her previously in "Fateful Opportunity", and is actually both integral to the story of Egon and Janine getting together (she used to date Venkman, and recommended Janine to them) and if you pay close attention she also has one other contribution to the Spengler family history to make.
Shirl Johnson. Janine is talking on the phone with someone named "Shirl" in one episode. I just decided that I didn't like "Shirl Melnitz" as a name for Janine's sister, so I spun it off into a friend. And here's something interesting: in those old stories Ogre and I did years ago, Shirl goes on to marry Janine's friend Winston Zeddemore. That angle got dumped (more on that in a minute) but she still got to attend the Spengler wedding.
Dana Barrett Venkman. Well, yeah, you know who that is. We showed her finally tying the knot with Venkman in "For Worse Or For Better"
Oscar Wallance. Dana's son, the one menaced by Vigo in GB2. His surname comes from the GB1 novelization by Richard Mueller, which gave the name of The Stiff as Andre Wallance. The idea that The Stiff is his father is only a conjecture in the official canon, but is one shared by Sigourney Weaver and Joe Medjuck. A lot of his character was defined by fan fic writer Rosey Collins, aka EGB Fan.
Jessica Venkman. This is Peter and Dana's daughter, born 1993. She was created by Rosey, and first appeared in "Rebirth and Retribution" (which is not totally canon in the GBOT universe)
Janine's Aunt Bella is mentioned in "Roller Ghoster"
Janine's grandmother is seen, but not named, in "Janine's Day Off"
Janine's cousin Michelle Jacobs and her son Alec appeared in "Hat Trick" (RGB#28)
Will Murray Hazzard appeared in several issues of the Now comic series, and was a tribute to Doc Savage and other pulp heroes. He was created by James Van Hise. It says in RGB#7 he was known by Egon's grandfather--I eventually decided that it was Egon's maternal grandfather, Katharine's father, Frederick Melton.
Ryan Harness appeared in the GBOT version of "Ghostbusting 101", replacing Andy Harness. In the GBOT continuity, the Andy Harness who appears in the GBTN and GBWC is Ryan's nephew.
Boris Meely appeared in "Ghost Fight At The OK Corral" As I established in stories such as "Opening Night", he later becomes the official photographer of GBI.
Alice Derleth appeared in "Collect Call of Cthulhu", and was in turn named in honor of Lovecraftian writer August Derleth.
Irena Cortez and Shannon Phillips are both characters from the Now run. Shannon was critical to the comic's most celebrated story, "The Father Thing Trilogy" (RGB#9-11)
Kaila MacMillan Zeddemore is a character with an interesting pedigree. Winston had a canonical girlfriend mentioned, but not named, in "The Devil To Pay". She appears (but is again, not named) in "The Strength To Dream" (RGB#23), which also establishes her as a museum curator. It was Winston enthusiast Brian Reilly who gave her her name; in a bit of a nod to the "old" Shirl, I kept the idea that she was someone Janine knew and introduced Winston to, so she appears in "Fateful Opportunity."
Charlene Zeddemore was named by my brother Al; she is mentioned in "Future Shocks", and has appeared in a couple of Rosey's stories.
Rays' wife's exact identity has not been revealed. If you think this story gives it away, read it again carefully. Eric is of course Ray's son, and is seen as an adult in "Future Shocks."
Lois Stantz is seen in "The Spirit of Aunt Lois" and mentioned in a couple of other episodes.
Barney Lupin was created by Al/Jim Harley/OgreBBQ, and was previously seen in "Shadow Of The Inquisitors" and "The Zodiac Imperative". His daughter Marie is seen as an adult in "Future Shocks" and "Seperated At Rebirth".
Liz Hawthorne also appeared in "Shadow of the Inquisitors" and "Zodiac Imperative." She's a member of the Order of Hermes and hails from Nova Scotia. If you think you figured anything else out about her from this story, please read again carefully.
I think most of you know who Roland Jackson, Eduardo Rivera, Kylie Griffin, and Garrett Miller are.
Egon's a deist, so the ceremony was handled mostly in a nondenomination manner, though the Melnitz's rabbi actually performs it. Considering that Janine actually celebrates at least the secular/Santa Claus side of Christmas ("X-Mas Marks The Spot") she's probably not all that religious herself, following a fairly open and non-judgemental style of Judaism, and Rabbi Jasper Jacobi shows that. The main acknowledgement of Janine's background is the use of the Jewish custom of stomping the wineglasses after the first toast, which they do here.
One of the candidates actually did the gag Venkman does at the toast ("I'll be brief" then a six foot scroll of paper rolls out of his hand) while running for Class President my senior year. He won the election, by the way.
I had a blast writing the toast--some parts of it had been in my head for years (especially the "angry Bugs Bunny" and "What is this, a frickin' roast?!" remarks) Venkman alludes to several previous stories, both fan and canon, such as "Ghostbusting 101", "Legion", "Egon's Ghost", "Egon On The Rampage", "Poultrygeist", "Beneath These Streets", and of course the first movie.
The song played on the first dance is "I Can Wait Forever" I knew a long, long time ago that this should be the song played at the wedding--it speaks of love being challenged by long separation, which Egon and Janine had to endure. And it's on the soundtrack of the first movie.
Is there any other song more perfect, more quintessentially Egon/Janine? Not to me.
Having Oscar help select it was a bit of "foreshadowing" to his career as a rock musician established in Rosey's work. Think about it: his biological parents are musicians, and he grows up with Peter Venkman, who at least has some misguided musical aspirations ("Moaning Stones")
Rosey also wrote a story called "Heads Or Tails", where Eduardo and Kylie finally get together around the same time as the Spengler wedding. That's alluded to here.
At first, I'd given some thought to doing a wholesale rip-off...er, tribute to the scene JMS did at the end of Spider-Man#500 and have Fallagar (from "Zodiac Imperative") give Egon five minutes with Edison, the same way Peter Parker got five minutes with Uncle Ben. Obviously, I figured that I didn't want to be so blatant.
As to what was in the box Venkman gave the newlyweds, your guess is as good as mine. Venkman can probably come up with much raunchier toys than I ever could, and maybe it's best this is just left to the readers' imaginations.
I went through about three different ideas for the ending of this story. In the first draft it ended with Egon and Janine Spengler driving off on their honeymoon. In another, there was a scene taking place in the future, June 14, 2048, in fact, the Spengler's fiftieth anniversary. I finally settled with one reprising some narrative elements from the most controversial scene in "Zodiac Imperative."
All in all, this was a story I'd been wanting to do for quite a long time, and I'm glad it's been so well recieved.