Thursday, June 13, 2013

G-FEST XX Countdown Begins

Artist Tom Tvrdik shares his knowledge at last year's Kids' Thread

One month from today, G-FEST XX will be in full swing, and we have begun to prepare for it in earnest. For the second year in a row, the "brains" (and I use that term loosely) behind this blog are overseeing the G-FEST Kid's Thread, which is informally being referred to as "G-FEST Junior" (as a tip of the cap to the G-FAN Junior insert in recent issues and the Godzilla Junior character from "G. vs. Destoroyah"). We are somewhat stunned to report that there will be almost three times as many sectionals as last year, jumping from four to eleven, with an influx of new volunteer presenters to complement the veterans returning to the lineup. All of last year's "Kaiju U." faculty will be back, including J.D. Lees, Tom Tvrdik, and Tim Bean.
This year, sectional titles include "How to Draw Kaiju," "Ultraman 101,""Gamera: A Friend to All Children,""Godzilla Story Time," and "Intro to Kaiju Kaos: Smackdown," a game demonstration run by its creator, Bryan Borgman. Also this year we are introducing "Kaiju Kids Quiz Show," which, as the title suggests, is an interactive game show experience that will yield special prizes for lucky participants. (Prizes include Godzilla comics, issues of G-FAN, and, yes, perhaps, even toys.) If you are attending G-FEST XX, please stop by G-FEST Junior (we'll probably be downstairs again) and say hello. We'll have lots of fun and giveaways aplenty!
Artist Matt H. with Andy

Looking forward to this year's films ramps up the excitement even more. Thursday's first feature is "Twenty Million Miles to Earth," Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion tour-de-force. Meant as a salute to the late special effects titan, "TMME" also happens to be a atmospheric, well-paced story, and the Ymir creature is instantly recognizable by sci-fi fans. Not surprisingly, Harryhausen imbues the space monster with a depth of feeling that is the hallmark of his work, making the reptilian a sympathetic character.

Next up will be Shusuke Kaneko's epic "Gamera 3: Awakening of Iris." At the risk of waxing hyperbolic, there are moments of transcendent awe in this movie, such as the flight and graceful (?) touchdown of final-form Iris. It's a serious film, yet completely fun and engrossing.

After a break for supper, it's on to a pair of pictures from 1967, the first being "Gamera vs. Gyaos." I remember as a kid being fascinated by Gyaos' beam and its ability to pierce Gamera's exterior. I also appreciate the angular and vicious quality of the Gyaos suit. He seems irredeemably mean, which makes him the perfect foil for the friendly turtle Gamera.

Last but not least, we will be treated to "The X from Outer Space," and I am very excited because I have somehow never seen this movie before. I've seen its satirical sequel, "Monster X Strikes Back" (and even reviewed it for G-FAN), but the original has escaped me, until this summer. The G-FAN website describes it as "weird" with a "peculiar charm," and that's good enough for me. It's not often one sees a "new" movie at G-FEST, so when it happens, it's memorable.

Friday night will see the screening of "Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla," an ambitious G-flick that wants to tell a dynamic story and succeeds, some of the time. There are a lot of elements to "G. vs. SG" that are clearly meant to appeal to children, and do--kids seem to love MOGERA a lot and Little Godzilla a little bit less. Many of the Birth Island scenes are top notch. Unfortunately, some of the space scenes, as well as portions of the final face-off, are embarrassingly bad from a spfx standpoint, straining the suspension of disbelief to the breaking point of even the most ardent fan. Overall, though, "Spacegodzilla" has a sort of 70's vibe to it that I can't help but enjoy.

Saturday night's entry is "Godzilla vs. Megaguirus," one of the best Millenium series films, in which it truly seems that the big G faces insurmountable odds, as human technology and its unforeseen consequences align to pose serious threats to his survival. Every time I watch it, it's always better than I remember it being, so I have modest hope that seeing in the G-FEST context will bring out the film's best qualities. We can't wait to walk through the doors of the venerable Pickwick Theater again!

Our G-friend from FL, Chris, and Andy

Finally, we're looking forward to seeing a special group of people that we are privileged to now consider our friends. G-FEST has become for us a reunion of sorts, as well as an opportunity to meet others who "get it," who share a sense of wonder and camaraderie over this specific imaginative world. It's a very unique bond, one that we build our summers around, and here we are, less than a month away from enjoying it once more. We'll be counting the days to G-FEST XX!


  1. Hi Andy! I'm registered for G-Fest and can't wait to see you again! Tommy

  2. Tommy, I'm glad you will be there! We're going to have a great time this year. Andy