You know those scenes in Godzilla movies where hundreds of people run screaming in terror from the monster? Imagine instead they’re running in celebration toward the creature, and you’ve got an idea of how the first Kaiju Go! went.
A one-day event dedicated to the “daikaijiu” or giant-monster genre, Kaiju Go! filled the Downtown Cowtown at the Isis theater in the Stockyards with fans from all over to celebrate the art, toys, and films of the genre last Saturday.
Lines began forming over an hour before the official opening at 4 p.m., and the 500-seat single-screen theater quickly flooded with people of all ages there to show and share their love of giant monsters. It was so busy that there was a line to reach the vendor area, upstairs around the speakeasy-style bar. People filled the small hall, happily walking away with no doubt long sought-after Mechagodzilla figures or signed illustrations of Gamera, the giant turtle, or ordering a Godzilla-themed, blue-tinted vodka sour from one of the bars — complete with Godzilla stickers on the glasses! — all before grabbing seats for the coming double feature.
Jay Key was “blown away” by the turnout. “I almost can’t believe how things are going,” said the co-founder of the event.
Key was on hand not only as an organizer but a vendor. The owner of Toku Toy Town store (TokuToyTown.com), which specializes in vintage “sofubi” or soft vinyl toys, was joined by a couple of other vendors, including Chance Priest of Victory Comics, whose independently produced, handmade toy line, Warriors of the Universe (WOTU.com/toy), is inspired by ’80s comics and knock-off toys; and Michael Morse (MichaelMorseArtToys.fws.store), whose work includes “Big Boji,” a combination of Godzilla with the Big Boy burger mascot.
Pure art was also represented in the form of independents like Mike Keller (Artpal.com/kellerwerks), who came with Japanese sumi-e inkbrush-inspired prints, and David DeGrand (DeGrandLand.com), who has drawn the Spongebob Squarepants comic for years and brought illustrations of Godzilla fighting the slimy smog monster Hedorah.
The biggest names were Hugo Award-winning illustrator Bob Eggleton (@BobEggleton1) and Godzilla comic cover artist John Yurcaba IV (Linktr.ee/johnyurcaba4), a Phoenician who spent a chunk of elementary school living all around North Texas and who had great things to say about returning to Fort Worth. “The people are really nice, and I’m almost sold out of the comic collections I brought, so best case scenario.”
Then came the films. Eggleton helped introduce Mothra vs. Godzilla, talking about its original release in America as Godzilla vs. The Thing, followed by what he described as “pure superhero fun,” Godzilla vs. Megalon. Both screenings went off well, with fans applauding when the monsters appeared and laughing at both the intentional humor and the sometimes unintentionally funny special effects, such as Godzilla getting his tail chomped on by a Mothra larva.
The highlight may have been the Q&A between Eggleton and Yurcaba between movies. After taking a couple of icebreaking questions about fighting imposter syndrome and the ever-continuing journeys they make as artists, they spoke of their upcoming projects. Eggleton is working on illustrations for a King Kong novelization, and Yurcaba spoke about how artists pass on what they learn, “carrying the lantern for other artists.”
The most touching part was when Eggleton discussed his friendship with longtime Godzilla series actor Akira Takarada, who died in 2022. Eggleton talked about making an illustration of him alongside Godzilla, which led the actor to write a message in Japanese on the back of the image that was too personal for even the translator to recount. He could only say the two men shared a bond.
It really seemed like everyone had a great time. Noah Percival, a Godzilla fan from Dallas who also writes for noted fansite TohoKingdom.com, found a lot to love in the sheer number of people.
“I grew up thinking I’m the only one,” he said. And to be surrounded by hundreds of fellow Godzilla fans? “Man, what a blast!”
What brings so many people together over one genre — nay, even primarily one monster — may be the applicability.
“Godzilla is a concept,” Eggleton said, explaining that if five artists are given the basics of what he looks like, you’ll get five very different interpretations. This ability for the character to be so many things, from villain (Mothra vs. Godzilla) to superhero (Godzilla vs. Megalon) can explain why his fandom keeps growing decade after decade, why fans from children to seniors showed up to celebrate him and other monsters last weekend.
“People like kaiju,” Eggleton also said, and maybe it’s not much more complicated than that.