As you are aware, I (Keith) am in the band Big Pimp Jones and write a giant monster comic called Kodoja in addition to my work on Vinyl Exam; I went on a recent trip to Chicago for G-Fest (a giant monster-themed convention) but also managed to squeeze a little time in for records.
As for the G-Fest portion, a few thoughts:
- The thing that tipped my decision was music-related: the successful funding of a Kickstarter to play Ifukube music live in concert – ‘100 Years of Ifukube’. The program was nothing but suites from Godzilla films scored by Ifukube. The music went chronologically, with a natural intermission between the Showa (1954-75) and Heisei (1985-1995) eras of Godzilla films. The suites were masterfully arranged, condensing musical highlights from an entire film into a few short minutes. The bonus? The Godzilla theme itself showed up time and time again, allowing appreciation for the subtle variations in theme from movie to movie (all but obvious when playing them side-by-side).
- The program felt like (and likely is) a once-in-a-lifetime thing; when you look at all that went into it (time, people, rehearsals, and more importantly a lot of Kickstarter funding!), the timing with Godzilla’s 60th birthday and Ifukube’s 100th AND the release of ‘Godzilla’ earlier this year, a lot of things went right to make this happen.
- There were many special moments during the concert, but one specific moment I hope I’ll remember forever: when the first song started (Godzilla theme from Godzilla 1954), I closed my eyes, listened and just soaked it in, appreciating the moment. As the MC mentioned during the evening, concerts of Ifukube music happen in Japan, but not in the US. Sometimes you need to slow down and really appreciate what’s happening in front of you.
- Not worth more than a quick mention – it was great making new friends and talking about Kodoja with giant monster fans from everywhere. We sold out of almost every comic we had!
- When I say giant monster fans from everywhere, I mean it. G-Fest may be the last truly ‘national’ convention there is; more and more comic conventions spring up every year – and for a reason – comic cons themselves gain more and more fans every year! It’s great because it allows everyone an opportunity to get the comic convention experience, and we at Kodoja table at as many comic conventions as we can. However, the prevalence of comic conventions locally means you can get a ‘comic con experience’ close to home; with Godzilla there’s only one place to go. And boy do people from everywhere go! Chicagoans (host city) are a tiny portion of attendees; I met people from Canada, Florida, Kansas, Georgia, Texas, New York, Massachusetts, Oregon, California, Great Britain and Japan. Pretty amazing.
- Holy crap, the Dealers’ Room. For those not familiar, the merchandise room (aka The Dealers Room) generates such interest that people line up for hours in advance before it opens, hoping to get first crack at vendor after vendor offering the finest imports, models and toys America can offer. It’s amazing! I didn’t walk away with any big-time goodies (while I definitely enjoy me some G-toys they aren’t entirely my thing by G-fan standards) but I did grab a few DVDs, shirts, music and comics.
- I also moderated a panel on Godzilla comics with Chris Mowry, Matt Frank and Jeff Zornow, currently the creative team behind Godzilla: Rulers of Earth from IDW. So first off, buy the damn comic and read it. Second, buy mine (Kodoja. I know you know that). The panel went well and I’ll get the audio posted at some point soon for people interested – for me it was apleasure to be able to talk about something as obscure (in the grand scale) as giant monster comics – G-fest is the ONLY place a panel like this can happen! If I propose a Giant Monster Comics panel at any other convention the response will be (to quote Matt) “there are giant monster comics?” So yeah, it was great to geek out on comics with fellow panelists and the audience for an hour.
- The most underrated thing about G-Fest? The G-Fest Channel! Yes that’s right, the host hotel opens up a TV channel, putting 4 days of solid Giant Monster (and related) programming for your viewing. Movies, trailers, video shorts, you name it. I didn’t know such a thing existed – I found out about while having a discussion in my room with it on, interrupting myself to ask “what the hell is this”? I was expecting my roommate to respond with the name of the DVD he was playing through the TV only to find out about THE CHANNEL. That channel stayed on the whole time – conversations, day, night, whatever. It was the perfect backdrop to the weekend – I saw the entire movies for ‘Spook Warfare’, ‘Sakuya Yokaiden’, ‘Daimajin 2’ and partials for many more, from Gamera to Godzilla to Ultraman. Completely fantastic. That cinches my attendance at every G-Fest I can get to in the future.