Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tokyo Skytree

Gamera, Mothra, Godzilla, and King Ghidorah in relation to the new Tokyo Skytree.

Now that it's the tallest tower in the world, some people seem to resent the fact that it dwarfs the monsters by comparison, but I think they're missing the point. The truth is, the bigger they are the harder they fall, and a building that size is just asking to get knocked over during the next big monster fight. Of course a scale model of the Skytree might have a negative impact on Toho's movie production budget...

More pictures at Kotaku.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Giant Monster Playset

Check out these cool trailers for a short film by Greg Pope:

Synopsis: A young boy receives a mysterious package. Upon opening it, he innocently plays with it’s toy monster contents. Simultaneously a gigantic beast appears, bent on the destruction of his own small town. The boy’s older brother discovers the connection between the two and realizes only he can stop it.
Official website

More coverage at Undead Backbrain.

Friday, May 25, 2012

"Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline

Hey check it out... I won a free copy of the new paperback edition of Ernest Cline's Ready Player One from Goodreads! It came in the mail the same day as MechaGodzilla Jr. there.

I read a library copy of the hardcover back when it was first released, but knew I had to acquire a copy of my own for rereading (and reference) purposes. Now I just need to purchase the audio version so I can hear it read by the always awesome Wil Wheaton.

My first thought upon completing Ready Player One was that here is a novel that an entire generation of nerds will feel was written as a special gift just for them. That would be the generation that came of age in the 1980s, the decade that brought us such wonders as The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, Back to the Future, and Ghostbusters. The decade we spent watching sitcoms and anime, listening to '80s music, dumping all our quarters into arcades, and playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons all night long. Are you nostalgic for any and all aspects of '80s pop culture? If so, you'll quickly declare this to be one of the greatest books in human history. Author Ernest Cline doesn't use the '80s references as a crutch or a gimmick, however. On the contrary, Ready Player One is an original, wildly imaginative science fiction novel in its own right. Cline depicts the world of 2044 in dark, gritty detail: a dystopia in which the recession has only gotten worse over time, it stands in stark contrast to the virtual world of OASIS. 

To escape their miserable lives in the real world, users jack into OASIS, the internet of the future in the form of a massive multiplayer online simulation game. Are you a Trekkie? Do you list Jedi as your religion? Then you can spend your day in a shared virtual reality simulation of the United Federation of Planets or a galaxy far, far away. Just as the saying goes that "everything is on the internet," everything imaginable really is in OASIS. So much so that when they announced that there would be a Ready Player One movie, my first thought was, "How will they ever secure all the rights?" This is the textbook definition of a licensing nightmare.

The author and his DeLorean.

If my description of Ready Player One has left you still wondering about the actual plot, or why '80s pop culture would be so important to the people living in the year 2044, I'll tell you this: James Halliday, the original creator of OASIS, was obsessed with the '80s, and has decided to leave his vast fortune to the first person who can solve the series of riddles he hid throughout OASIS like Easter eggs. Billions of dollars are up for grabs, to be claimed by whomever has the greatest knowledge of '80s movies, music, TV, and games... and of course the best puzzle-solving skills.

Fans of Japanese pop culture in particular -- anime, giant robots, tokusatsu television programs, etc. -- are in for a real treat. As a matter of fact, the MechaGodzilla Jr. blog owes its existence indirectly to Ready Player One. On his own blog, Ernest Cline posted this picture of his collection of RPO foreign editions and advance reader copies, along with the giant robots that factor into the novel:

Like Cline, I waste spend a lot of time searching for toys on eBay, and when I saw this picture of his sweet Mechagodzilla figure, I knew I had to have one. That kicked off my Monster Island toy collection, which led to this picture, which inspired this blog. So, blogging and ordering toys from Japan: 2 things I do that annoy my wife that I can blame on Ernest Cline.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Godzilla Comics & Magazines

A Comic Book Resources interview with Duane Swierczynski, writer of the new ongoing Godzilla comic series from IDW.

Also, CBR has this to say about IDW's digital Godzilla comics:
Not only will the new comics be available digitally the same day as print — with digital variant covers, which seems like a contradiction in terms — but IDW is releasing its entire Godzilla back catalog, trades and singles, in several digital formats: iOS, Android, and Nook. That’s in addition to James Stokoe’s new series, Godzilla: The Half-Century War, which is due out later this summer.
This is cool news to me. A month or two back I recall searching through all the comics apps on my iPhone for Godzilla comics, with no luck. I guess IDW was waiting for a big launch with the new Godzilla #1. I just wish the old Godzilla comics from Dark Horse were available somewhere digitally.

And finally, the art for the cover of the 100th issue of G-FAN -- Paul Hanley's Godzilla vs. Cthulhu:

Someone needs to make this happen.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Ongoing GODZILLA Comic by IDW

Since getting the license from Toho, IDW has published 3 Godzilla comic book miniseries so far: Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters, Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths, and Godzilla Legends. Today marks the release of the first issue of their new ongoing series, Godzilla #1. Based on what they've done with Godzilla's universe so far, I'm already onboard. Here is their press release:
IDW announces digital Godzilla comics, new characters, and a new title!

May 23, 2012

San Diego, CA – Expanding what has become an explosive publishing partnership, this summer IDW Publishing and Toho Co., Ltd.are bringing even more kaiju chaos to comic fans everywhere!

May 23rd brings the launch of Duane Swierczynski and Simon Gane's new, ongoing Godzilla series, which features covers by Arthur Adams and Tony Harris! That's not all, though!

That same day, after much anticipation, Godzilla will finally hit digital platforms!  Available on iOS, Android, and Nook, IDW's entire back catalog of catastrophic, giant monster destruction will be available as single issues and trades.  Not only that, but the new Godzilla ongoing will launch day and date with two exclusive digital variant covers!

This bounty of crushing comics destruction comes hot on the heels of IDW's announcement of Orc Stain creator James Stokoe's Godzilla: The Half-Century War, a generation-spanning tale packed to the gills with Stokoe's trademark hyper-detailed linework and nearly-psychedelic colors. If any comics creator out there was born to draw giant monsters leveling crowded metropolitan areas, folks, it's James Stokoe.

And as if all that city-stompin' goodness wasn't enough, IDW has made the necessary space in Godzilla's monstrous world for even more of Toho's creatures, with more than 20 of Godzilla's co-stars joining the roster of licensed characters. From fan favorites such as JET JAGUAR to lesser-known greats like the gargantuas, SANDA and GAIRA, the future of Godzilla at IDW is bound to be even more action-packed than ever.

Needless to say, it's going to be a chaos-drenched summer for Godzilla fans.

Hopefully they all have insurance.
 Jet Jaguar? Sweet. If I recall, JJ couldn't appear in Kingdom of Monsters because he wasn't part of the licensing agreement with Toho.

And Sanda & Gaira from War of the Gargantuas, the sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World? From the cast of characters alone it sounds like this series is going to be insane. I mean, I doubt we'll get to see Stringer Bell, but really, besides me, how much of a crossover audience is there between Godzilla and The Wire?

Since I haven't made it to my friendly neighborhood comic shop yet this week, here's an advance review of Godzilla #1 from Newsarama.

Guillermo del Toro's PACIFIC RIM

Anytime fans of Guillermo del Toro lament the probability that he'll never make a movie adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness (the most recent reason being that he feels Prometheus will be covering the same territory), they tend to console themselves with the knowledge that we will be getting Pacific Rim, his giant monster movie. Finally, Warner Bros. (and their sister Dot) have released the official synopsis for the 2013 movie:
From acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo del Toro comes Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ epic sci-fi action adventure “Pacific Rim.”
When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge.  But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past.  Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
Oscar® nominee Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) is directing “Pacific Rim” from a script by Travis Beacham (“Clash of the Titans”).  Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni and Mary Parent are producing, with Callum Greene serving as executive producer.
The film stars Charlie Hunnam (TV’s “Sons of Anarchy”), Idris Elba (“Thor”), Rinko Kikuchi (“The Brothers Bloom”), Charlie Day (“Horrible Bosses”), and Ron Perlman (the “Hellboy” films).  The ensemble cast also includes Max Martini, Robert Kazinsky, Clifton Collins, Jr., Burn Gorman, Larry Joe Campbell, Diego Klattenhoff, and Brad William Henke.
Del Toro’s behind-the-scenes team includes Academy Award®-winning director of photography Guillermo Navarro, production designer Andrew Neskoromny, editor Peter Amundson, and costume designer Kate Hawley.
Idris Elba is going to be in this movie? Awesome. I think I'll start referring to it as Stringer Bell vs. Godzilla.

Kickstarting Zombies

Zombie Playground: "In Zombie Playground you take on the role of a kid during a zombie apocalypse as seen through his or her imagination. Your school is overrun by the undead, and it's up to you and your friends to do whatever it takes to survive!"

Official Site
Kickstarter Page

Check out the video:

Zombie Squash: "It's a world where vegetation has gone wild from evil experiments gone wrong; this is the work of Dr. Beau E. Vil voiced by the "Godfather of All Zombies" George A. Romero. Zombie Squash is a tower defense style game where the Player is a rabbit named Jack Stompingtail who fires carrots, zucchini and other garden ammo at Dr. Beau E. Vil’s horde of gorde onslaught.  The player has to try and stop the Zombie Squash from taking over the world."

Official Site
Kickstarter Page

Check out the video:

Japanese Sci-Fi A to Z

Thanks to Christopher Elam over at the OWARI blog, I have a lot more Japanese science fiction movies to track down now. Inspired by my posting of the Giant Monsters vs. Alien Invaders article, he has followed suit with Star Warp's "Japanese Sci-Fi A to Z."

Now I know where the kaiju Manda, a giant dragon-like serpent, originated: 1963's Atragon. Previously I'd only seen him in stock footage from various Godzilla movies and assumed he was just a space filler on Monster Island.

I also know more about the Japanese character Starman, along with a variety of Japanese movies that Tom Rogers apparently hated on principle. Chris has some interesting theories about the freelance writer's career and writing style, but I also can't help but wonder if "Tom Rogers" wasn't just a pseudonym employed by the editors of science fiction and fantasy magazines whenever they needed to give credit to a questionable article. Will the real Tom Rogers please stand up?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

John Dies at the End and This Book is Full of Spiders

One of the best novels I've read in the past decade is 2007's John Dies at the End by Cracked's David Wong, and now there's a movie coming out by the awesome Don Coscarelli (Bubba Ho-Tep, Beastmaster, Phantasm) starring the equally awesome Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, and Doug Jones (among others).

There is also a much-anticipated sequel due out later this year, This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude, Don't Touch It.

I have literally stood in the library and read the prologue of John Dies at the End aloud to my coworkers:
Solving the following riddle will reveal the awful secret behind the universe, assuming you do not go utterly mad in the attempt. If you already happen to know the awful secret behind the universe, feel free to skip ahead.
Let’s say you have an ax. Just a cheap one, from Home Depot. On one bitter winter day, you use said ax to behead a man. Don’t worry, the man was already dead. Or maybe you should worry, because you’re the one who shot him. 

He had been a big, twitchy guy with veiny skin stretched over swollen biceps, a tattoo of a swastika on his tongue. Teeth filed into razor-sharp fangs, you know the type. And you’re chopping off his head because, even with eight bullet holes in him, you’re pretty sure he’s about to spring back to his feet and eat the look of terror right off your face. 

On the follow-through of the last swing, though, the handle of the ax snaps in a spray of splinters. You now have a broken ax. So, after a long night of looking for a place to dump the man and his head, you take a trip into town with your ax. You go to the hardware store, explaining away the dark reddish stains on the broken handle as barbecue sauce. You walk out with a brand new handle for your ax. 

The repaired ax sits undisturbed in your garage until the next spring when, on one rainy morning, you find in your kitchen a creature that appears to be a foot-long slug with a bulging egg sac on its tail. Its jaws bite one of your forks in half with what seems like very little effort. You grab your trusty ax and chop the thing into several pieces. On the last blow, however, the ax strikes a metal leg of the overturned kitchen table and chips out a notch right in the middle of the blade. 

Of course, a chipped head means yet another trip to the hardware store. They sell you a brand new head for your ax. As soon as you get home with your newly-headed ax, though, you meet the reanimated body of the guy you beheaded last year. He’s also got a new head, stitched on with what looks like plastic weed trimmer line, and it’s wearing that unique expression of “you’re the man who killed me last winter” resentment that one so rarely encounters in everyday life. 

You brandish your ax. The guy takes a long look at the weapon with his squishy, rotting eyes and in a gargly voice he screams, “That’s the same ax that slayed me!” 

Is he right?
While you ponder that existential question, possibly even while filled with existential dread, let me point out today's new and exciting development: Author David Wong has announced an Alternate Reality Game, with lots of not-available-anywhere-else prizes: The New Alternate Reality Game, and also FREE SHIT

Remember, if you win something, YOU OWE ME. Unless you read about it somewhere else first, of course.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dr. Strange vs. '80s Horror

Back in 2001 and 2002, Marvel Comics was publishing Ultimate Marvel Team-Up, written by Ultimate Spider-Man scribe Brian Bendis. Every issue they would introduce another Ultimate version of a classic Marvel character to the ultimatized universe by having him team-up (hence the title) with Ultimate Spider-Man. The series ran for 16 issues (plus a Special) before the whole thing collapsed into an apocryphal black hole of non-continuity as Marvel declared the stories to be non-canon (some more so than others).

But none of this stopped me from writing a fictitious news article for my website based on issues 13 and 14, in which Bendis introduced Ultimate Dr. Strange. This version of Dr. Strange was a young man discovering that he had inherited sorcerous powers from his absentee father, the original Dr. Strange, who had mysteriously gone missing years prior.

My "news story" was about the new Dr. Strange discovering important clues about his father's fate, but being completely oblivious to their true meaning. As usual, my sense of humor was way too obscure for my own good...


Old Photo May Be Key to Solving Mystery

Current Sorcerer Supreme Stephen Strange caught a lucky break this week in his quest to discover the fate of his missing father, Dr. Stephen Strange, when a search through some old financial records showed that he once owned a timeshare on a cabin in the mountains of Morristown, Tennessee. Unsuccessful in their efforts to locate the timeshare partner -- an archaeologist named Professor Knowby -- Stephen and Dr. Strange's faithful servant Wong decided to journey to Tennessee and investigate the cabin for themselves.

What they found may be the last place Dr. Strange visited before disappearing without a trace two decades ago. From all indications, he was enjoying a vacation the last time he visited the cabin. The clothes he packed were suitable for hiking in the woods, and the few other items he left behind show that he was trying to relax and unwind:

Dr. Strange brought with him some light reading material (the Necronomicon, or Book of the Dead); a handheld puzzle box, similar to the Rubik's Cubes that were all the rage back then; and judging by all the empty containers, the good doctor's diet was less than ideal, as he seemed to be eating nothing but dessert.

While none of these items seemed out of the ordinary, Stephen did manage to find something he considers to be an important clue.

In the Necronomicon there was an old Polaroid photo of Dr. Strange, apparently being used as a bookmark. At the bottom of the photo, the white border was covered with arcane glyphs, obviously drawn with enchanted ink (since none of them were smeared).

 Stephen and Wong hope that by translating the glyphs, they will finally be able to determine what happened to Earth's previous Sorcerer Supreme all those years ago.

In the meantime, the artifacts of Dr. Strange's final days have been secured in the Sanctum Sanctorum in case it becomes necessary to examine them for forensics evidence.

Stephen's mother Clea, who never told her son that his father had been a master of the mystic arts because she did not want him traveling that path, was visibly disturbed by these revelations.

"He never told me about the cabin," she said in a recent interview on 60 Minutes II. "I have to wonder if he was using it to have an affair. Is that what happened to him? Did he run off with some slut like Scarlet Witch? Is that why he disappeared as soon as he found out I was pregnant?" Clea then broke into tears.

In her defense, the Scarlet Witch claims to have never heard of Dr. Strange, and points out that she was maybe three years old at the time of his disappearance. She is also threatening legal action if Clea does not cease referring to her in the tabloids as the Harlot Witch.

* * *

Notes: See? In a cabin in the woods, Dr. Strange was reading aloud from the Necronomicon, fiddling with a Hellraiser puzzle box, and eating the Stuff. But none of those things could possibly have anything to do with his disappearance, right? Surely it's the Polaroid that's the important clue! Ah, I do love explaining 10-year-old jokes. But hey, I watched The Stuff on Netflix tonight, and it brought back semi-fond memories of this mashup, so I decided to unearth it from deep in my hard drive and share.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


ENORMOUS: A 64-page one-shot comic about giant monsters from Image/Shadowline coming out in July 2012. Written by Tim Daniel, drawn by Mehdi Cheggour. Check out the 5-page prelude and an interview with the writer at USA Today. I think it goes without saying I'll be adding this to my collection.

Friday, May 18, 2012

New York Stomped Again

Last month I posted an article I wrote about the financial cost of Godzilla's attack on New York City, and whether or not the extensive property damage would be covered by insurance.

"I could have wrecked even more if my atomic breath had been working that day."

Since then, the Kinetic Analysis Corporation (KAC) has published its damage assessment of the recent Chitauri Invasion of NYC that was repelled by the Avengers. And what did the researchers base their estimate on? Previous damage done by Godzilla:
Using computer models created by KAC R&D for estimating nuclear weapons effects, as well as techniques developed for use in predicting damage in Japan from attacks by ゴジラ(Godzilla), モスラ (Mothra), and particularlyメカゴジラ (Mechagodzilla), the damages and losses resulting from this weekend’s invasion by the Chitauri have been estimated.
"Ballpark? 160 billion."

You can read the 2-page report in PDF form here, and a news article explaining how and why the research was done here.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Zombie Entertainment

Fight zombies with cheerleader Juliet Starling in Lollipop Chainsaw:

"Pert. Wholesome. Way lethal."

Or check out the Canadian horror-comedy A Little Bit Zombie:

How will it compare to Zombie Honeymoon?
 Or the Spanish language (with English subtitles) Zombie Dawn:

It even comes with a free comic book at some screenings:

Or if you want to get more physical, Comic-Con will have a Walking Dead Zombie Obstacle Course from July 12 to 14 at Petco Park in San Diego.

That's room for a lot of zombies.

For some reason this reminds me of all the sports action figures we used to sell when I worked at Paper Heroes, and how I thought they would make great "victims" in a zombie apocalypse diorama.

New Cthulhu Games

Looney Labs will be releasing Cthulhu Fluxx this summer!

I'm a big fan of Looney Labs, having spent many hours playing Fluxx and Zombie Fluxx with friends and family. If you aren't familiar with these games, here's the official description:
The card game with ever changing rules! It starts out simple, with just the Basic Rule card: Draw one card and play one card during each player's turn. But New Rule cards quickly make things chaotic.
Even the object of the game will often change as you play, as players swap out one Goal card for another. Can you get the Rocket to the Moon before someone changes the goal to Death by Chocolate?

And then the Zombie edition changes it up a bit:
Welcome to the dark side of Fluxx, the card game of ever-changing rules! Zombie Fluxx takes the award-winning card game Fluxx and cranks up the fun with a Zombie uprising. The Zombies arrive in the form of a new type of card, called the Creeper, which hangs around in front of you, preventing you from winning.

The good news is, the Keepers include a Shotgun and a Chainsaw and various other things you can use as weapons against the Zombies. Plus you've got Sandwiches and Coffee and a couple of Friends to help you win. The bad news is, if your Friends become Zombies, you'll have to destroy them!
You can see a Creeper card from the Cthulhu edition above, based on Him Who Is Not To Be Named. Something tells me the Shotgun and Chainsaw from the Zombie edition won't be nearly as effective against the Old Ones.

Also, someone is beginning a Kickstarter campaign to develop a Cthulhu/Monopoly mash-up boardgame in which you destroy the neighborhood instead of building it up. You can read more about The Doom That Came To Atlantic City here. Sounds like fun for Lovecraft fans and Monopoly haters alike.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Zombies and Saturday Morning TV

Stumbled upon another Myron Fass publication in my collection... the Winter 1978 issue of Star Battles:
Superman: "Why are you shooting me in the back? Look! Up in the sky! Cylons! Shoot THEM!"
So naturally, that means more articles by (drum roll, please...) Tom Rogers!

In The Living Dead Return: George Romero Strikes Again, he covers Night of the Living Dead, The Crazies, Martin, and the then-upcoming Dawn of the Dead. I particularly like how, after denigrating the quality of Night of the Living Dead (by my count) four times in four paragraphs, he writes, "This is really a fine horror film, and this synopsis does not do it justice." Indeed!

In Saturday Morning Live Action, he covers a number of programs I remember fondly from my '70s childhood, though for some reason he decides to do so in alphabetical order, resulting in the discussion of some spin-offs before the original shows that spawned them.

This article is a good example of just how weird the '70s were, sometimes to the point of disbelief. Back in the '90s, before the advent of YouTube, it literally took me YEARS to convince one of my roommates that I hadn't made up The Lost Saucer, starring Jim Nabors and Ruth Buzzi as spacefaring androids with a pet Dorse. I don't think even the IMDb listing was enough to overcome his level of denial. Of course, when dealing with television of this calibre, that's a useful defense mechanism to have -- the same sort that allows Lovecraft characters to investigate Cthulhu while retaining their last vestige of sanity.

Monster Squad, Bigfoot and Wildboy, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, Isis and Shazam! -- I'm beginning to get a clearer image of what went wrong with my formative years.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Choose the form of the Destructor!

Apparently the Destructor... now available in decaffeinated form:

Also, it seems the same company is also responsible for this snack combo:

Mmm... I love washing down real people with fake blood. Refreshing!