Thursday, August 9, 2012

G-FEST XIX: Kaiju U. "Class Is In Session"

J.D. breaks down kaiju names while his "pupils" look on

It all began with a letter. An e-mail, actually. After last year's G-FEST, I thought about things that could potentially enhance the experience, and kept returning to the idea of a "kid's thread." In other words, it seemed to me that many of the panels, interviews, and other presentations, while not kid un-friendly, were maybe a little too long for young attention spans. So why not create a little thread for G-kids? That's basically the question I posed in an e-mail to J.D. Lees, the editor and publisher of G-FAN, and he surprised me by including my correspondence in the letters section of the magazine. He further surprised me with a follow up question: would I be willing to organize the type of programming I had mentioned in my message? Of course, the answer was yes, which led to the events that took place on Saturday morning of G-FEST XIX.

Andy and I had scoped out the Haneda room the night before, to make sure there was a computer projector (there was) and to check various lighting levels (which, as it turned out, we never messed with on Saturday). So the only thing I was nervous about come Saturday morning was: would anyone actually show up?

I was optimistic, mainly because J.D. had voluteered to lead a session about the origin and meaning of Japanese monster names, and he was up first. It seemed reasonable to assume that he would be able to draw a decent crowd of interested kids. He did, and by the time he got rolling, it was a standing-room-only showing. I was relieved, delighted, and interested in the topic at hand. The kids were, too, and the discussion continued right up until the scheduled stop time. It was fun and fascinating, precisely what I had hoped we could provide. And then came Tom Tvrdik.

Tom Tvrdik shares the fun of kaiju art

Tom generously provided a Far East Monsters coloring poster and markers to each participating youngster, and let them go to work. (If you've ever seen (or perhaps own) an American Greetings Godzilla ornament, that's Tom's handiwork.) One of my favorite memories about this experience is handing out the posters to each child and seeing the looks on their faces as they received them. There was definitely a buzz in the room as the kaiju kids set to coloring. What Tom was able to do, then, was offer some practical advice about coloring the poster in such a way as to produce realistic reflections and shading. Mostly, though, he let each artist unleash his or her creativity. It was a perfect complement to the informative first session. And we were only halfway done!

1 comment:

  1. I was fun for "big" G-Kids too. JD's presentation inspired me to try and learn some basic Japanese.