The Art of Japanese Monsters

by Sean Linkenback

© 2014 Sean Linkenback
208 pages

ISBN  978-0991459902 (paperback)

Price $39.99


Introduction --

For me it all began with a revelation. Like many boys my age, I grew up a fan of all things monster and monster related. And being a dinosaur buff, nothing could beat the biggest dinosaur of them all. Sure the Wolf Man or the Creature from the Black Lagoon were cool, but Godzilla was always the best. My friends and I had Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, weekend Creature Features on the local UHF channel, “From Dusk til Dawn” showings at the drive-in, and what seemed like nearly endless visits to the local toy stores and comic book shops to buy more Aurora monster model kits and whatever other goodies I could find. I can still remember the when and where of walking into King’s Department Store and seeing the Godzilla Gang figures for the first time, or turning the aisle at Zayre’s and coming face-to-face with an endcap full of Mattel’s Rodan toys stacked to the ceiling, and even finding the first issue of Marvel’s Godzilla comics and knowing I would now be able to get a monthly fix of the King of the Monsters.

But it always came back to the movies. At first it was the super 8 film reels released through Ken Films Company. Even though they would only come in condensed versions lasting from two to eight minutes, it was a much more fulfilling experience than owning a mass produced toy or model. The cycle would repeat when VHS started gaining popularity and some of the movies became available for purchase in their entirety.

It wasn’t until a few more years had passed that I finally had the “Aha” moment; when looking through the goods at my local comic shop - I spied a poster for Godzilla 1985, and it was for sale! You could have knocked me over with a feather as my mind raced: How could this be? I just saw this movie in the theaters, and they weren’t selling the poster. I got yelled at by a theater employee for even asking it – they weren’t for sale and had to be returned with the film back to the distributor. Yes, I had seen posters pictured in magazines before, but it had never dawned on me that these were items you could actually own. And of course the key question – does this mean I can obtain movie posters for other films as well? Finally! THIS was the missing link. This was the elusive visceral connection to the films for which I had been looking. An actual poster that hung at the theater when you went to see the movie, not some piece of plastic made in a factory years later. I quickly purchased the poster, raced home to hang it and committed myself to finding other posters. I started calling other shops and memorabilia dealers: “Godzilla vs. Megalon one-sheet? Yes, that was the first film I saw in the theaters, I must have it. A lobby card for Godzilla vs. The Thing? I’m not sure what a lobby card is, but yes please send it. A Godzilla one-sheet for $450? Well, that is too rich for my budget right now, but soon. A King Kong vs. Godzilla 3-sheet? Add it to the pile please.”

 On and on it went for the next few years, and when it seemed like I had about everything for the Godzilla series, I started adding titles like Gamera, Mothra, and Frankenstein Conquers the World to the list. I hunted every size poster for every movie.

It wasn’t until 1990 when the next revelation came. I was attending a comic book convention and as I was walking around the room, I came across a poster for a Godzilla  film I had never heard of,  Godzilla vs. Biollante. It happened all over, “Of course! If they made movie posters in the US, then certainly they must have made movie posters in Japan! Probably in other countries too.” Now the world was opened up to me. What I thought had been a closed-end set, now became a near-limitless collection of countries, posters, and advertisements.  The adventure started anew, and continues to this very day. When I wrote An Unauthorized Guide to Godzilla Collectibles more than 15 years ago, I thought I had pretty much figured out what had been made and what had been available, but now thanks to better information, technology, and the internet, communication with other countries is easier, knowledge is growing at a much more rapid rate, and new things are being discovered all the time. (An Iranian poster for Destroy All Monsters? It’s an absolute must-have. Colombian poster for Space Monster Dogora? Of course!)



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