At 67, Godzilla is nowhere near ready to retire
Speaker 1: (00:00)
Godzilla roared into existence in 1954 and has always been a towering pop culture icon in Japan. But his footprint in the us has not been as large. Chris Maui is hoping to change that he's the creative manager for Toho international at his putting his passion for the giant monster to good use by creating products designed to increase his popularity in the us K PBS arts reporter. Beth Amando speaks to Maui who used to live in San Diego and write a Godzilla comic for I D w publishing
Speaker 2: (00:34)
Chris to start with you work at Toho, but explain what your job
Speaker 3: (00:39)
Is. So my job is to kind of oversee the creative brand product development. You name it for, for Godzilla, uh, everywhere outside of Japan.
Speaker 2: (00:51)
Now you have a long history with Godzilla that predates your job at Toho. Tell us a little bit about kind of your connection to Godzilla and the work you I D w
Speaker 3: (01:02)
So I worked at I D w and I think probably like the first week there, I, I asked them about, you know, Hey, have you ever thought about doing Godzilla comics? And they didn't think about it. And then they went after it and said, okay, well, what should we do? And I said, well, you have to get rights to the other monsters because no one had ever done that before Marvel or our course. And so they did that and we were the first company to really put out Godzilla comics, but also featuring ma and Mecca Godzilla, and a number of the other characters. So after, I dunno, how long of us having the license, they, they finally let me write some things. And I ended up writing this, this longest series and God's comics history that pretty much had me working with Toho pretty, pretty regularly as far as just like emails back and forth. And, you know, could we do this? Could we do that? I think a couple years after I wasn't there anymore, they just reached out one day and said, Hey, would you be interested in working for us? So it was a very, um, easy decision to make.
Speaker 2: (01:59)
And for you, what is it about Godzilla that you found so appeal? What hooked you for this?
Speaker 3: (02:05)
I think growing up, I, the first film I saw was Godzilla versus Gagan. I was five years old and I think it was just, I was so interested in dinosaurs and sharks and whales and all the stuff, um, you know, in monster movies of course too. And I think it was just this character had all of that and just, it was so cool at the time, you know, we had the blue oyster cult song out and, you know, the, the HBAR cartoon was on. Like, it was just, it was easy to get attached to the character.
Speaker 2: (02:33)
Now, Godzilla is 67 years old this year. What makes him newsworthy right now? Because he seems to be getting a little bit of attention. Is it mainly because of his birthday? I
Speaker 3: (02:44)
Think it has a lot to do with the fact that there is, this character has such longevity to it and has been around, like you said, for 67 years, generations of people have grown up on it and thanks to the Mon verse films and the success of God's all versus Kong. You know, there is this whole new whole new audience out there for the character. And of course the, the character's themes have always been pretty topical with environmentalism and sustainability, all those kinds of things. So they're all those topics are still relevant today. Toho
Speaker 2: (03:15)
And you have recently launched a series of videos on YouTube that are brand new. You're kind of taking advantage of this platform. Now, what kind of things are people going to be able to find in these new videos?
Speaker 3: (03:27)
So the new series that we just launched is called Godzilla chomp. It is, uh, co-hosted official media program and it is co-hosted by myself and my dog, peanut. And it's basically kind of like a Godzilla 1 0 1 in a way. And it just, it gives some insight into what we do at Tahoe international and LA one of the first things you'll see when you come into the office in the lobby besides this amazing mural, which we will cover in a future episode is this incredible statue, but also giving some very basic facts for people new to the brand. I, I always joke on and say, you know, it's a show made for my mom, you know, who who's known me all my life, but really has no idea about this character who I've been obsessed with. Um, so we do these, these little short three to five minute episodes. And the good thing about it is like, you know, peanut offers these facts and the very basic facts, like I said, but we're filling it with a lot of stuff for hardcore fans as well, to see like old original one sheets and film reels and things that we, we kind of have like in our storage area. So
Speaker 2: (04:28)
You've mentioned this storage area up in LA at Toho. So what kind of things are you uncovering and as a fan of Godzilla, like how does that feel to go back into those vaults? It's
Speaker 3: (04:39)
It's super cool. I mean, there's stuff in there that is like old, old press kits from the sixties old one sheets that have, you know, never been folded. They were used to be folded and mailed out. These are just like, they almost looked like press proofs and it's just, they shouldn't exist in that condition. Just things like that. Just, just really, you know, get me excited for it, just old production samples of like the old NES game, you know, never assembled. And it just, it's crazy to see all these things
Speaker 2: (05:05)
Now, as someone who is a fan of Godzilla working at the job you are at, what kind of things are you kind of like pushing for that are starting to become available now, because as a fan of Godzilla, you know, here in the us, we have not had as much to enjoy as fans in Japan where he's an icon. And so now we're starting to get some stuff. So what kind of things are you seeing happen right now and pushing to happen?
Speaker 3: (05:34)
I think with, uh, the, the great team that we have, you know, you're seeing a lot more of those licensed goods that are available here and we're really work with, you know, really, really good partners now to, to help bring, not just toys out, but, you know, like apparel and not just a t-shirt, but like a really nicely, you know, designed, you know, high end kind of apparel item. Uh, we just, I mean, we just did hot sauces and coffees, and there's a, you know, Godzilla hockey puck now and, you know, hockey jerseys and just all kinds of stuff. So the, the partners we work with are, are a huge part of that. They're really supportive of the brand. And, but also I just, I would like to see us really start hitting a different demographic too, and, you know, paying more attention to like our female fame and not just with, you know, Mo but also doing things like, you know, tapping into some of our character history, like hetero you're a header, a fan, and header just had a 50th anniversary last year. So you saw a couple timed capsules around that with, you know, super seven, did a release, Mondo did special releases. So really just trying to take this, this almost seven decades of a character in, in finding, you know, whatever we can,
Speaker 2: (06:40)
You mentioned partners, and you also mentioned, uh, companies like Mondo and super seven. What's the importance of partnering with companies that really kind of understand fandom
Speaker 3: (06:51)
At the very basic level. It makes our job really easy, cuz they know the brand, they know what they want to do. Um, they know their audience, their, their, their customers as well. I enjoy working with partners like that because they they're coming up with stuff that was never done before. You know, they were collectors as their own, you know, on their own. So they kind of understand what's been done. What's been out in the market and kind of taking that, you know, you know, it'd be really cool to do, let's do this thing, Tiki mugs that Mon does, for example, you know, just, just really cool. And even like a company like Meco doing a giant, like 18 inch fully movable lights and sound, you know, toy. That's just something that, I mean I would love to have as a kid and now it's happening. So,
Speaker 2: (07:32)
And you guys are also doing some really crazy high end stuff like the pinball machine
Speaker 3: (07:39)
That was a lot of fun to work on. The, the team at stern is, is fantastic. And it's, it's basically this love letter to Godzilla and especially the Showa era. And it it's kind of made to feel like if you were to somehow just go back in time to like 1978 or so, and, and some kind of like pool hall or, or arcade somewhere, this is what you would play. Um, it's got a bunch of film clips attached to it and it even has the blue oyster Colt song. So it's, it's a very, uh, very seventies focused machine, but I finally got to play it last weekend in San Diego for ComicCon. It was, it was awesome. Well, thanks so much for talking. Thank you, Beth.
Speaker 1: (08:25)
That was Beth AO speaking with Chris mare. You can find out more about Toho and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaker 4: (09:04)
He back, I.
Japan's pop culture icon is increasing his footprint in the U.S. market for Christmas
Gojira (or Godzilla as he is known in the U.S.) roared into existence in 1954 and has always been a towering pop culture icon in Japan. But his footprint in the U.S. has not been as large. Chris Mowry is hoping to help change that.
Mowry is the creative manager for Toho International and is putting his passion for the giant monster to good use by creating products designed to increase his popularity in the U.S.
"So my job is to kind of oversee the creative brand product development, you name it, for Godzilla everywhere outside of Japan," Mowry said.
Mowry has a long history with Godzilla dating decades before he took the job at Toho. As a young kid, he saw "Godzilla vs. Gigan" and watched the old Hanna-Barbara cartoons and was hooked. He has spent his life collecting Godzilla and assorted kaiju merchandise. Then while he was living in San Diego and working at IDW Publishing he wrote a Godzilla comic book series.
Mowry pitched the idea of a Godzilla comic but with one stipulation: "We have to get rights to the other monsters because no one had ever done that before, not Marvel or Dark Horse. We were the first company to really put out Godzilla comics, but also featuring Mothra and Mechagodzilla and a number of the other characters. I ended up writing this longest series in Godzilla comics history that pretty much had me working with Toho regularly. A couple of years after I wasn't there anymore, [Toho] just reached out one day and said, 'hey, would you be interested in working for us?' So it's a very easy decision to make," Mowry said.
Now he is in a position to put his fandom to good use to create products that people who love Godzilla will want, such as a Stern Pinball Machine.
"That was a lot of fun to work on," Mowry said. "The team at Stern is fantastic. It's basically this love letter to Godzilla and especially the Showa era. It's made to feel like if you were to somehow just go back in time to, like, 1978 or so and some kind of pool hall or arcade somewhere. This is what you would play. It's got a bunch of film clips attached to it, obviously, audio tracks from the films themselves, the scores. And it even has the Blue Oyster Cult song. So it's a very '70s focused machine. I finally got to play it last weekend in San Diego for Comic-Con. It was awesome. Well worth the wait."
Godzilla turned 67 this year but shows no signs of slowing down. His most recent screen appearance was earlier this year in the Warner Brothers' film "Godzilla Vs. Kong," and his last Japanese appearance was in "Shin Godzilla" from 2016. And he's making news now because of a new 4K restoration of the original 1954 "Gojira" as well as the flood of recent products just in time for Christmas.
Mowry attributed his newsworthiness to "the fact that this character has such longevity to it and has been around for 67 years, generations of people have grown up on it. And thanks to the Monsterverse Films and the success of 'Godzilla vs. Kong,' there is this whole new audience out there for the character. And of course, the character themes have always been pretty topical with environmentalism and sustainability, all those kinds of things. So all those topics are still relevant today."
Toho has also given Godzilla a much greater social media presence on Instagram and Twitter and is now feeding his YouTube channel with regular content after years of being almost dormant. Mowry is hosting one of the YouTube video series.
"So the new series that we just launched is called 'Godzilla Chomp.' It is co-hosted official media program, and it is co-hosted by myself and my dog Peanut," Mowry said. "It's basically kind of like a Godzilla 101 in a way. And it just gives some insight into what we do at Toho International and in L.A. but also giving some very basic facts for people new to the brand new fans. I always joke around and say, it's a show made for my mom who's known me all my life but really has no idea about this character who I've been obsessed with. But we're filling it with a lot of stuff for hardcore fans as well to see, like, old original one-sheets and film reels and things that we kind of have, like in our storage area in L.A."
Mowry has been geeking out over the stuff he is finding in those L.A. Toho vaults, treasures such as old press kits from the 1960s, old one-sheets that have never been folded, and more. Some of these items will be highlighted in the upcoming videos.
Toho is also planning to make the films themselves more readily available and in higher quality formats, which is something fans in the U.S. have longed for. Mowry revealed that there is also a new comic book crossover that will be announced, as well as new partnerships and products from companies such as Mondo and Super 7, companies that understand geeky fandom and are working to create new and exciting collectibles for fans.
T.J. Shevlin is store manager at Super 7 San Diego. He said, "The great thing about getting to do official Godzilla product is just how much the original movies and toys informed what we do at Super7. It really is everything coming full circle for us. We're proud to play a role in his everlasting popularity."
You can use this handy Christmas gift guide if you are shopping for yourself or a Godzilla fan you know.