Wednesday, April 28, 2010

G-FAN Magazine # 91 "Still Stomping"

In the "Dear G-friends" editorial of G-FAN # 91, publisher and Godzilla guru J.D. Lees strikes a reflective tone regarding his labor-of-love fanzine, and why not? G-FAN, like its muse, marches on through many changes. It is truly remarkable that the 'zine has managed to hold its ground in the Internet era--certainly, it can no longer be the conduit for "breaking news"--but it has continued to thrive by carefully widening its scope. Lees has a right to feel that he has accomplished something extraordinary, yet he wisely devotes the majority of his column space to the acknowledgement of those who have contributed material and have subscribed to the magazine over the years. That G-FAN and G-FEST have both continued to provide high-quality "for-the-fans-by-the-fans" entertainment is a unique achievement. As with any "institution," there will always be those who wax nostalgic for the "good old days," and who imply (or come right out and say) that today's product is inferior. But I believe that the point of this editorial is well taken. It is a different world than when G-FAN started. The nature of information acquisition has changed. The nature of Godzilla and monster fandom has morphed as well...and yet, G-FAN is still here. "Let's enjoy the ride as it exists now," Lees seems to be saying. Needless to say, I'm on board.
To the articles:
Daisuke Ishizuka, G-FAN's "man in Japan," reports on a number of Godzilla/tokasatsu-themed events that have taken place there in the recent past. It was neat to see Hiroshi Koizumi, star of Godzilla: Toyko S.O.S. (not to mention the original Mothra) looking well. The Heisei Godzilla Book Launch Party looked like quite an affair--proof that Godzilla still carries some cultural weight in the land of his origin.
In a follow-up of sorts to issue 90, totorom speaks with Yukiko Takayama, the only woman to have written a Godzilla screenplay (Terror of Mechagodzilla). It was very interesting to hear her ideas about the origin of Titanosaurus and how the female cyborg/Katsura character was central to the story from the beginning. Ms. Takayama's creativity shows through in her suggestion that Godzilla be sent back to "ancient times" in a new film.
Allen Debus interviews author Sam Enthoven, whose "TIM: Defender of the Earth" combines classic daikaiju tropes with nano-technology themes. Enthoven comes across as an enthusiastic fan of the genre and it seems to me that his writing deserves further inspection.
Lyle Huckins checks in with an opinion piece about "Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus" and its production house, Asylum Pictures. While I have not seen the movie in question, I have been underwhelmed with SyFy's offerings in the past, finding them curiously soul-less exercises, so I can appreciate the overall tone of Mr. Huckins' article.
Evan Brehany returns to the pages of G-FAN with a comprehensive "Gamera 3" retrospective. His analysis of the mythic/religious elements of the story provides much-needed context for Western viewers (like me), resulting in a better understanding of what is motivating both human and kaiju characters. I was also struck by the revelation that spfx director Shinji Higuchi was inspired by and reacting to the work of Hayao Miyazaki (Ponyo, My Neighbor Totoro, etc.) in the creation of specific scenes. Brehany's eye for detail and enjoyment of the subject matter are evident, and he has succeeded in enhancing my appreciation for this film.
"Godzilla's Friends and Foes" features kinetic images of Godzilla, Biollante, Gabara, Gorosaurus and Mothra, and the accompanying prose brings out the essence of their monstrous personalities.
Mike Bogue presents reviews of "Kronos" and "Reptilicus" in his typically engaging style. I vaguely recall watching "Reptilicus" as a youngster--and even then not being too impressed.
Serious devotees of the "fanzine phenomena" will be keenly interested with Brett Homenick's interview with Greg Shoemaker, the man responsible for the seminal Japanese Fantasy Film Journal. Shoemaker's candor is refreshing as he recounts the inherent difficulties of producing a self-styled, specialized periodical. His is a great story, and I am glad G-FAN has recognized him and his impact on G-fandom.
Normally, an interview of that caliber would make others seem a bit superfluous, but Homenick manages to follow it with one of significance in its own right: a conversation with Nick Adams' daughter, Allyson. We meet a very "human" Nick Adams through his daughter's eyes. Anyone who has enjoyed Adams' performances in "Monster Zero" and "Frankenstein Conquers the World" will be grateful for Homenick's record of this touching tribute.
Allen Debus reappears to offer his thoughts on the linguistic capabilities of kaiju, both in cinema and in literature, finally settling in for a consideration of Mark Jacobson's novel, "Gojiro." I'm not sure it is a book that I will endeavor to read, but I will gladly read Debus anytime. (His recent "War Eagles" article in Mad Scientist #20 was a knockout.)
Next up is a full-color visual report of my son Andy's library display, which he dubbed "The G-Mazing Collection." Hopefully the article conveys the fun we had in November 2009. That is followed by my own retro review of Wonderland Records' 1977 Godzilla LP. From a writing standpoint, I am happy with how this article turned out (even though I make reference to Boggy Creek II as an example of 70's monster cinema--when in fact it came out in the 80's. You don't really care, do you? Gosh, I hope not.) At the very least, I am honored to share the page with G-FAN's announcement of Shout! Factory's Gamera Series featuring commentary by August Ragone.
Issue 91 concludes with another eye-popping Monster Toys spread, courtesy of Steve Agin. (It provides great incentive to keep saving my pennies for the Dealer's Room at G-FEST.)
I almost forgot to mention the increible cover art. That REALLY ought to be a poster.
At ninety-one issues and counting, G-FAN has endured, possibly because it has never forgotten the fun of being a monster movie buff. Somewhat surprisingly, there is still much to be said about Godzilla and friends, not to mention those who brought their stories to life. G-FAN has proven to be a great forum in which to enjoy and participate in the conversation.


  1. Great review! I'm glad you were pleased with how everything turned out.

  2. Thanks. I was really looking forward to reading the complete Shoemaker article ever since you posted a portion of it.

  3. I am very happy that you liked it. Especialy since it was about 15-20 less than the last couple of issues. But that must make those 66 pages really good pages, eh? Hehehe. And thanks for the kind words.

  4. "All killer--no filler"...I guess! I hope you will continue your submissions to G-FAN.

  5. Already working on something. Though there are some pains in the butt out there who hate my work... Yeah, I get hate mail. But if ya want more, I'll keep it comming as long as I keep from syndicating stuff that has already been done (unless it is some rare stuff which has become obscure and stuff). Thanks again.

  6. Thanks for the kind comment regarding the cover art for G-Fan 91. Look for the next cover perhaps in Spring or Summer with the Flying Tigers versus the 64 Godzilla.
    Rudy Gardea

  7. Can't wait to see it. Thanks, Rudy!