Following up on yesterday’s Kong post –
I did this illustration for the 1994 San Diego Comic Convention program book. The original Godzilla movie was released in Japan in 1954 so this piece was to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
Godzilla was my favorite monster as a kid. The first Godzilla movie I saw was Monster Zero. I’m not sure how old I was. Maybe 10 or 11. That set up my expectations for what I thought a giant monster movie should be – a story of good monsters fighting bad ones while stomping a city or two. I probably didn’t see the “original” (ie the Raymond Burr Americanized Godzilla, King of the Monsters) until after I’d seen 2 or 3 other Godzilla movies. I no longer remember which movies those were (maybe vs. King Kong, vs. the Thing and vs. the Sea Monster) but they all featured Godzilla fighting another monster. He wasn’t always the good guy but, to my young self, he wasn’t really the bad guy either. Stomping on human cities was just his job.
The original Godzilla is a grim movie. It’s a little hard to imagine now but it was as much of game changer for big monsters as Night of the Living Dead would be for zombies. Godzilla isn’t just a big monster. He isn’t just a giant monster. He’s thirty stories tall and has radioactive rays for breath. He doesn’t just step on a couple of cars and squish a few people, he utterly destroys Tokyo and leaves thousands dead, dying and maimed. When King Kong died at the end of his movie I felt bad for the poor guy. He only killed a dozen people and mostly those were guys who trespassed on his island. When Godzilla died I figured it was a good thing. He was a walking atomic holocaust.
That was probably the biggest disappointment about the 1998 American Godzilla movie. That Godzilla was a big lizard that ran from human weapons. The big threat he posed was that he’d overbreed and overfeed. That’s not scary, that’s annoying. That’s Godzilla as giant reptilian rat not Godzilla the Atomic Revenge.
Godzilla is no longer my favorite monster. I don’t really have favorites any more. He’s an old friend whose company I still appreciate on the rare times we hang out but that doesn’t happen much anymore.