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.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

G-Mazing Collection On Display In G-FAN #91

It was a real thrill to share Andy's G-Mazing Exhibit with the readers of G-FAN. Here Andy and I take a moment to enjoy the display.

Another shot of the full display case--it was fun to loiter around and watch people's reactions to it. We could tell it brought back pleasant memories for some folks.

The most time consuming part of the project (yet also the most fun) was deciding what artwork and which G-FAN covers to use. In the end, we chose all of our favorites and drew these at random from the pile. We had just as many left over as we used for the display. The effect was better than we had hoped, and the artwork would've made a fantastic exhibit in its own right.

Among the notable figures in this shot are the G-FEST exclusive Gabara (important to us for personal reasons) and the Bandai Minya, purchased at G-FEST 16.
Thanks once again to Kara Cervelli, Matt Evangelista (Kaiju Modeler), J. D. Lees, Sue Matzke and everyone who came to see the G-Mazing Collection at the Perry Public Library.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Toybox Treasure Birthday Edition: Kitahara Tin Toy Godzilla

Although it was a very LEGO-centric birthday for Andy, this tiny tin toy replica also found its way to the party. It is based on some of the very first Godzilla toys to be made, which (according to the enclosed information) are on display at the Toys Club museum in Yokohama, Japan.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

G-FAN # 91 Has Arrived!

G-FAN # 91 arrived in our mailbox today. Everything looks fantastic! Andy's "G-Mazing Display" pictures have been rendered in color and the effect is top notch! Thanks, J.D.!
I'm looking forward to digesting the entire issue and you can expect to see a full write-up in the near future.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Giant Birthday All Out Attack!

Today, Andy, my son and co-founder of Monsterland Ohio, turns seven years old. Happy Birthday, Buddy!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

G-FEST Films Revealed; Takarada to Introduce Godzilla (1954)

It has been a HUGE G-news weekend at Monsterland Ohio. First we learned that G-FAN #91 will definitely include Andy's "G-Mazing Exhibit" article and that it is en route to our mailbox right now. Then, continuing to scroll down Brett Homenick's blog, we saw that the film lineup has been revealed. This represents months and months of waiting and wondering around here.

The films are:

Thursday (double-double feature) "Son of Godzilla" & "Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992)" followed by "Godzilla 2000" & "Godzilla vs. Megaguirus"

Friday "Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster"

Saturday "Godzilla" (1954) introduced by guest of honor Akira Takarada

For more info, click on Brett's link over on the right. What a day!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Rondo Awards Announced

Early this past week, this year's Rondo results were posted. Although the results indicated a heavy slant towards classic American horror and sci-fi, a few of our favorites did make a dent in the honorable mention category. They were:

Best Blog: August Ragone's "The Good, the Bad, and Godzilla"

Best Magazine Cover: Mad Scientist #20 by Pete Von Sholley

Best DVD commentary: Ryfle & Godziszewski for "Mothra"

Best DVD Extra: Mystery Science Theater 3000 "Santa Claus"
Here's the Mad Scientist cover. Isn't it a beaut?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Kaiju Sighting: 2K Sports' "The Bigs 2"

We're not hardcore gamers, but we do enjoy our Wii now and then, as previous posts have indicated. Godzilla: Unleashed has gotten a lot of play around here, for obvious reasons. But we never expected to encounter a giant monster in our baseball game!

2K Sport's "The Bigs 2" has a "Home Run Pinball" fantasy game in which you can hit home runs in the middle of the streets of various cities around the world. When we saw Tokyo was an option, we were all over it. As Andy started knocking down billboards with home run shots, the profile of a purple people-eater became clear, much to our shock and delight! After much fiddling, Andy was able to brain the creature with a "Big Blast" homer, causing the monster to swivel back and forth and appear to roar. I guess you never know where kaiju are hiding!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Bandai Easter Basket

Andy's Easter basket featured a selection of Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight action figures (purchased for a song at a local discount retailer). Perhaps they will do battle against a radioactive Easter Bunny, who is trying to hoard the world's supply of Reese's peanut butter eggs!

A Day of Kings

On this date in 1956, "Godzilla, King of the Monsters" was released in the United States, featuring Raymond Burr as reporter Steve Martin. Interestingly, when "Godzilla, King of the Monsters" was released in its amended form in Japan, it took in big box office receipts, just a couple years after "Gojira (Godzilla 1954)" made its debut in Japanese theaters.

Also on this date, Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, promising eternal life to those who trust in Him. Happy Easter and best wishes to you and yours!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Terror From Lake Erie

As an Easter Break treat, I am posting a work of fiction that was inspired by our experience at G-FEST 16 and which was published in G-FAN #89. Folks from Northeast Ohio will best be able to appreciate some of the references dropped into this humble mini-thriller. Hope you enjoy it--

The micro-blogging site “” took on a new dimension recently when an Iranian student used it to chronicle civil unrest in his nation. Following his “tweets” inspired me to consider what might happen if someone used the same technology to report on…

Name Andy Martin
Bio NE Ohio born and raised; love the Browns and lake effect snow

It’s the all star break and the Tribe is already out of it. Guess Kerry Wood was not the answer. Oh well—tickets will be easy to get now
11:45 PM Jun 30th from web

Grandpa is still at Cleveland Clinic. Knee replacement went well. Was up on his feet the next day! Hope he’s home by the weekend-he’s bored
1:00 PM July 2nd from web

Another Lake County quake just hit-felt like a truck slammed into the house two or three times. Going to check for cracks in foundation
11: 19 AM July 3rd from web

Unbelievable—Fox 8 news reporting that the salt mines under Lake Erie have begun collapsing, caused by major earthquake
11:30 AM July 3rd from web

Reports suggest 85 workers were down there at the time of the collapse. State & county officials are “concerned” about Perry nuclear plant
1: 33 PM July 3rd from web

Emergency siren has been sounding for about 15 minutes straight-people are coming out of their houses and kind of wandering—I’m freaking out
2: 54 PM July 3rd from web

Talking to neighbors outside & we just heard WEIRDEST sound ever—can only compare it to black and white Godzilla roar THIS IS CRAZY!!!
5:05 PM July 3rd from txt

Ground shaking again nonstop. Can’t believe I’m hearing that HOLY COW 2 OR 3 PLANES (?) JUST THUNDERED OVERHEAD IN DIRECTION OF PERRY POWER
5:47 PM July 3rd from txt

They are dropping BOMBS over by the plant!!! Not making this up—can’t stay here
5: 55 PM July 3rd from txt

Made it to aunt’s house in Chesterland. Roads choked with evacs. Watching Action 19 news. Whatever was by Perry is gone. Unreal
8:05 PM July 3rd from txt

19 news chopper showing long range shots of Perry plant. One of the cooling towers is totally gone. “Reactor not compromised” they’re saying
8:25 PM July 3rd from txt

Wondering if I’ll ever see home again
8: 30 PM July 3rd from txt

Fox 8 reporting aftershocks at former salt mine site. Nobody is saying anything about whatever is was that came ashore
8: 34 PM July 3rd from txt

If this was not on the screen I would never believe it. 19 news chopper showing Browns stadium being leveled by blackish grey Godzilla
9:11 PM July 3rd from txt

I saw G-2000 once—it looks a lot like that but skin is wet black like he’s been at the bottom of the lake a long time
9: 13 PM July 3rd from txt

Sick joke—this is the most action Browns stadium has seen since they returned to Cleveland—the creature is pure power in motion
9: 16 PM July 3rd from txt

The Rock and Roll hall of fame was just obliterated with a blast of blue-white fire from monster’s mouth-“let me stand next to your fire”
9: 20 PM July 3rd from txt

Jimi also said “well I stand up next to a mountain/knock it down with the edge of my hand” Zilla is about to do that to Key Bank bldg
9: 22 PM July 3rd from txt

The Quicken Loans arena “the Q” is next in line—King James vs the King of the monsters. We are all witnesses-of total destruction and chaos
9: 36 PM July 3rd from txt

The lights are somehow still on at Progressive Field-getting great look at monster—it is so huge yet fluid; towers over light stands
9: 52 PM July 3rd from txt

Stations are replaying Browns stadium collapse; Tony Rizzo is doing ad lib commentary in tears “this is almost worse than what Modell did”
10:07 PM July 3rd from txt

Entire Gateway district is up in flames. Lebron said he would light it up like Vegas-I doubt he had this in mind. Zilla heading north now
10:53 PM July 3rd from txt

Creature dove back into lake. Networks in full coverage mode. We are sitting here in total shock—feel like I’ve been running a marathon
52 minutes ago from txt

Holy cow—grampa is still down there at the Clinic—gotta go
50 minutes ago from txt

Northbound lanes are a ghost town; southbound are a parking lot most vehicles abandoned
35 minutes ago from txt

Can see fires burning in the distance-not far from Clinic now
28 minutes ago from txt

WTAM 1100 reporting violent tremors just off downtown all the way to Mentor. Can feel and hear it
23 minutes ago from txt

Someone just called in to WTAM claiming military ready to use electromagnetic pulse weapon if creature appears again-how do they know?
18 minutes ago from txt

Made it to Clinic garage. If EMP goes off, I’ll obviously be phone silent. Guess this is where I say I love you to whom it may concern
5 minutes ago from txt

WTAM reporting creature resurfacing a couple miles east of downtown. Here I come grandpa
3 minutes ago from txt