Q: For those readers who don't know what the word "kaiju" means you should probably explain it. And how you came up with the phrase American Kaiju.
Todd: Kaiju translates out as mysterious beast or animal in Japanese. The actual Japanese term for "giant monster" would be Daikaiju, but most fans just use the shorter term "Kaiju" to refer to Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah and other Toho Studios giant Japanese monsters. It took me a while to get those and other terms sorted out myself.
AMERICAN KAIJU would describe the combined efforts of Mike Bogue and myself to create adaptations of established Japanese "Kaiju" (ie: KING KONG VS. GODZILLA), and more importantly, to create our own universe of American-based giant monsters, who are similar to the Japanese Kaiju in size and powers, but have their own uniquely American flavor to them.
AMERICAN KAIJU is also a website www.americankaiju.com) and will eventually be it's own magazine publication with kaiju comics series and kaiju fiction by Mike Bogue and your's truly. We are currently seeking a publisher for the latter mentioned project. I also should add that the alternate title of both the website and the prospective magazine is RETRO MONSTERS, which was the original title of a comics project started back in '99. This was my own personal homage to the giant monster comics created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in the late 50's. It was my plan to follow this format, but with characters, monsters, and environments of a contemporary nature that people of today can better relate to. RETRO MONSTERS isn't gone; let's just say that it merged with AMERICAN KAIJU.
Q: When did you first become a fan of giant monsters? When did you first start drawing them? Tell us a bit about yourself.
Todd: I was introduced to the wonderful world of giant monsters back in thefifties the same way many other "boomer" kids were: TV movie trailers! Back in good old Butler, PA , my attention was grabbed between afternoon cartoon shows by TV ads for THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, and GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS. At the time, I didn't understand the differences between stop-motion animation and monster suit-mation, and I didn't care. All I knew was that monsters were monsters, and the bigger they were, the BETTER!
I was already a dinosaur enthusiast, owning several entire sets of the current plastic Dino-toys, and having seen the really cool fossil exhibits at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. Little did I know at the time that the gigantic Prehistoric mutations that I witnessed on my tiny TV screen would start the giant-monster genre of the 50's! My dear mother thought she was protecting me from potential nightmares and changed stations or switched the TV set off whenever she saw these ads, but it was too late…I was already a goner! It was at this point that I started filling notepads with various pencilled dinosaurs and monsters, and I've been doing that ever since.
Later my dad got a job promotion, and we moved to Charlotte, N.C. around 1957 when the monster movie craze was in full swing. I was still too young to go to movies alone, and the closest thing to monster flicks my parents would take me to were schlocky films like THE INVISIBLE BOY and TOBOR THE GREAT. I gladly took what I got, because it allowed me to advance to the next level of appreciation: THEATRICAL movie trailers! These were much longer and involved than the TV ads, and they were projected on a breath-takingly wide movie screen. The outstanding memory from these outings was seeing the GIGANTIS, THE FIRE MONSTER trailer. This was the first time I saw a giant monster battling another giant monster, (along with the combined armed forces and the fleeing local cityfolk). This concept was even cooler to me, and has been my favorite monster movie scenario ever since that day.
Q: The thing that originally drew me to www.americankaiju.com was your King Kong vs. Godzilla adapatation, which features the original 30's Kong and incorporates it in to a more detail/continuity correct story than the Japanese film. Did you create the comic because the movie bugged you to some extent?
Todd: In one way, yes. To my thinking, the 1963 Toho movie KING KONG VS. GODZILLA has always had sort of a "love/hate" quality to it for me over the years. If most other Kaiju fans are honest with themselves, they would probably admit this too. My early feelings were like this: Having seen the original RKO KING KONG first, I naturally was disappointed (and yes, "bugged") when the real Kong failed to show up in the film. After all, Kong is our monster, isn't he! Mike Bogue wrote an interesting article concerning Toho's Kong in G-FAN #57 titled The Mystery Of The Mangy Kong that sums things up pretty well. In my own comics-format way, I did want to "set things right" by showing what I imagined the real Kong would do in a story that directly links the genuine Kong chronological time-line with that of Godzilla. I only wish that Willis O'Brien was still alive so that we could have asked to possibly work directly with him on our adaptation. [ I think Ted Turner owns the rights now.] Poor Mr. O'Brien suffered many sad disappointments concerning Kong projects following KING KONG and SON OF KONG, and KK Vs. G. was probably the biggest one of all to him,... to the point of tears from what I've heard! Yes, that aspect really bugs me a LOT, and I guess I feel defensive for Mr. O'Brien! But in reality I can seperate "politics" from "art", and I don't hate the Toho KK VS. G; in fact it's still quite enjoyable fun for me to watch on occasion, but in all fairness... I can't take it very seriously. Can you?
Q: What are some of your favorite creations?
I am fond of my first RETRO MONSTER creation, SLIKK, who was created back in the 90's. Not many people know this, but SLIKK was inspired by Bill Clinton who changed his views with each passing wind, being mostly concerned with protecting his own "legacy" to the point of obsession (Let me add here that I can respect both liberal or conservative views if they are sincere, even if I disagree with them) All of this sparked the idea of a pliable, maleable blob-like monster who is despotically dedicated to obtaining power over others. I also liked seeing THE BLOB and CALTIKI, THE IMMORTAL MONSTER films as a kid, and they were also influential in the creation of SLIKK. As you might guess from those last statements, I am basically conservative on most issues, and it might come as even more of a shock that I am also a Christian, as is my co-creative partner, Mike Bogue. It's kinda bizzare how we both just happened to find each other through our mutual love of monster movies and SCARY MONSTERS magazine. Well, maybe it's not all that bizarre; I saw Stephen King being interviewed by Larry King a few years back. When Larry K. asked him, "do you believe in God", Stephen answered quite adamantly, "Oh yes! I am a VERY deeply religious person!"
BTW: My current favorite is KING KOMODO. This is our latest story and will be the first and most prominent member in the AMERICAN KAIJU universe of monsters. More on him later in the interview.
Q: What do you think about some of the more recent giant monster movies like REPTILIAN or SPIDERS 2?
Todd: Haven't seen SPIDERS 2, but I did catch REPTILIAN, of which I thought left a lot to be desired. The computer animation seemed too much like a video game, and somehow the kaiju seemed sort of colorless, almost see-thru. I'd like to see more of a combo of animatronics, suitmation AND cgi. I still think this can be done successfully particularly by Stan Winston and Dennis Muren), if they are allowed the time & budget to do it. Surely by now there are also new film-makers that can pull this off out there somewhere.
Q: What would be your ultimate giant monster battle?
Todd: Well, since you asked, these would be my "dream ultimate giant monster battles" that I would love to see a film version of, in this order: 1) KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (GMK-GOJI vs. the real KONG) 2) GODZILLA VS. GAMERA 3) THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS VS. THE GIANT BEHEMOTH
Q: . Tell us about your work, where it's been featured (G-FAN, etc) and what we can look forward to.
Todd: KING KOMODO will soon be featured as a comics series in SCARY MONSTERS magazine, probably starting with issue #45 or #46. For those not familiar with it, SCARY MONSTERS has already carrying my RETRO MONSTERS comics series "SLIKK", and will start my "THE REBEL PLANET" story in the next upcoming issue # 45. You can subscribe to SCARY MONSTERS at their website: www.scarymonstersmag.com
KING KONG VS. GODZILLA was in one issue of G-FAN, #58 only; before it and all other Godzilla-comics and Godzilla-fiction was banned by Toho from G-FAN. If you are reading this and are a fan of both Kaiju, you may want to purchase a copy of G-FAN #58 if you haven't already, as it may even become a collector's item as a result of the Toho controversy,... ..or who knows, it might actually get published after all by someone eventually purchasing (or re-purchasing) the rights from Toho.
Here' s the basic story of what I've named the "Toho No-No": A few months back, I received an e-mail from J.D. Lees of G-FAN magazine stating the following:
"I got contacted by Toho and they want no more comics or fiction in G-FAN at all! I guess issue #58 was the proverbial straw. Too many comics and too much fan fiction. But instead of telling me to cut back, they told me to cut it out... completely".
For me personally, this means no more "KING KONG VS. GODZILLA" comics for Mike Bogue and I in G-FAN. My condolences also go out to the many other Kaiju artists and writers who have been involved with G-FAN for the past 8 years. Our "KK VS. G" comics series only lasted one episode there, but most of what we completed will eventually be on my own website.
That's right... KK VS. G. will continue on my AMERICAN KAIJU website. Look for a new episode including Battle # 1  comin' up in the next few months. BTW: Battle #2 is scheduled to take place in 2004.
Q: Anything you wish to add (website, etc)
No, don't want to be repetitive... other that to keep inviting everyone reading this back to www.americankaiju.com, and to please invite your friends too! We've got a lot of exciting plans, and you'll be definitely hearing more from us in the future.