It is Time to Rediscover Godzilla

With the recent launch of the Godzilla comic books by IDW and the upcoming Godzilla: Kaiju World Wars board game, I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to my favorite giant monster of all time – yeah, you guessed it – Godzilla.

The “King of the Monsters” and I go way back, all the way from me watching NBC’s Godzilla Power Hour during Saturday Morning Cartoons to wearing one of those tacky 80’s costumes with a picture of the character you were dressing as on the costume’s glossy torso. Before I ever became a fan of The Transformers, G.I. Joe, Knight Rider or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there was a kaiju-sized soft spot in my heart for the misunderstood terror/hero of Japan.

While dinosaurs were the cool thing of the decade (and more decades to come), once I saw the radioactive fury of Godzilla on the small screen, I knew I had found the love of a lifetime. Circa 1979, we in the Chicagoland market had (and still have) a host of a local television show titled “Son of Svengoolie” (he had taken over for the original “Svengoolie” and dressed in the same horror-show manner, hence the “Son of”). While most of the movies he would show on Saturday afternoons were in the traditional “creature feature” genre, i.e. vampires, werewolves and zombies, he spent a couple weeks promoting his upcoming Saturday night prime time special presentation of Toho Films’ King Kong vs. Godzilla.

Svengoolie

While I was a home-grown American boy, I had seen the Godzilla cartoon, read some books at my school library and even listened to the Power Records classic story. Thus, instead of rooting for King Kong, the American icon, I was cheering for the fire-breathing foreigner. We had a larger color television in the basement den, where most of the family’s TV watching tool place. However, my parents didn’t want to watch badly dubbed people talking in between shots of men in rubber suits duking it out on the Japanese countryside. Therefore, I was exiled to the upstairs kitchen where I would watch this epic film in all its magnificent glory on an 8” B&W portable television in the enviable comfort of a barstool.

I was hooked. Next item on the giant monster movie marathon was Godzilla vs. Megalon, which was immortalized in infamy many years later on the highly popular MST3K, which had much higher viewership than Son of Svengoolie. While these movies were never considered “high art” and often dismissed as juvenile trash, I never stopped loving them. Later on, “Sven” did special shows for Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster, Son of Godzilla and many others. Finally, for Godzilla 1985, he held nothing back in having fun with Raymond Burr in his reprisal of “Steve Martin” from the original Godzilla: King of the Monsters. When Son of Svengoolie came back to television in the 90’s after a 10-plus year absence, I was thrilled to see this Chicago TV legend back where he belonged: introducing viewers young and old to monsters of all types, including Godzilla and his friends Mothra, Gamera and the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.

If you haven’t done so already, I recommend picking up Godzilla #1 from IDW at your local comic book shop (ask for the cover done by my pal, Matt Frank). Once you enjoy that, you might look up all the Godzilla movies you might have missed since your childhood (there have been quite a few), and renew your own relationship with the big, grey (not green, as is often misconceived), radioactive beast from the east.

I would like to thank the little people ... which is all of you.

SmashHansen

Science hero. Résumé writer. Browncoat. Creator of Smash Tales on the Marvel Noise podcast (Mondays at iTunes). Gimme your comic books.

Latest posts by SmashHansen (see all)

Subscribe to the Retroist Newsletter

* indicates required

8 thoughts on “It is Time to Rediscover Godzilla

  1. Great first post Smash. Timely for me, they just started broadcasting Svengoolie down here, so I am going to tune in tomorrow (even though its not a Godzilla :( )

  2. Steve Raker says:

    Fun, nostolgic article, Rick!
    As a youth in the late ’70’s, there was a big stage theater 2 block away from our apartment in Albany, NY that was converted into a movie theater with a giant screen…and I mean GIANT! On weekends, they showed a matinee for 50 cents that were usually 2 Godzilla movies and a few Pink Panther cartoons….I used to go all the time! Besides Galactus, Godzilla is my other ‘big G’. Glad to know we’re in the same camp.

  3. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Great post about the big *grey* wonderfully-destructive lug.
    He’s the go-to guy for lightening up my day with radioactive mayhem and roars of delight.
    Here’s to a continuity of his exploits for a new generation (and mine).

  4. Awesome post, Smash!

    First of all, I’m with you 100% about the IDW Godzilla comic that is on comic shop shelves as I type this. It’s awesome! I only wish that my neck of the woods had not only a horror host but one as grand as the Son of Svengoolie!

    My love of apes though, friend, means I always had to root for King Kong when those two titans clashed. :)

  5. In the New York metro area, WPIX 11 was the only place to watch Godzilla movies. Literally — they weren’t available anywhere else. Tohei Studios must have been embargoed in any other venue. Many a Saturday afternoon was spent sharing Godzilla’s struggle against Gigan and his ilk.

  6. plaidman76 says:

    Great Post! Made me go check my collection, thought I actually had one of those WPIX broadcasts of Godzilla. Sadly, I don’t. I did find a mid 80’s broadcast of TBS Super Scary Saturday with Grandpa Al Lewis- “Godzilla, King of the Monsters”. I’m guessing it’s mid 80s by the commercials. I remember staying up late and watching Godzilla when I was younger. It was always a treat. I think I’d watch them on our local Horror hosts, Ned the Dead.

  7. intthis says:

    makes me want to go back and revisit some favorites from my childhood! actually… i’m gonna do that right now!

Comments are closed.