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The Legends of Godzilla Unite at Monsterpalooza 2016
- Actors and Artists Make Special Appearance on Stage!

Written by: Elliott S. Thomas

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The Monsterpalooza convention is well known for always having an incredible roster of celebrity guests. Over the years the popular show has been host to some of the biggest names in movies and television. Fans will line up, sometimes hours in advance, for the chance to meet their favorite stars. Each year the show provides the opportunity to rub elbows with industry greats. This year the show held a once in a lifetime event, the chance to see the pillars of the Godzilla franchise in person, as they took to the stage in the Pasadena Convention Center. The lineup was a dream come true for any serious Godzilla fan.

The Autograph Signing: Meet and Greet the Legends of Godzilla

I have to say that I have been a huge fan of Godzilla since I was a child. My earliest memories include watching the films on TV with my grandfather. We both loved monster movies. I am such a huge fan of this series that I created my own informative eight page Godzilla zine, which I distribute here in Los Angeles. In the year since I launched the zine I have hand folded hundreds of copies. I even made two different covers. It is a living testament to my love of these films.

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Four very special guests were scheduled to sign autographs and meet with fans. These were the stars and the artists who brought this wonderful series to life. I showed up early for the autograph signing. I was stunned by the large turnout of fans. The stars of the Godzilla series were easily the biggest draw at the show. I quickly jumped in line and waited for my chance to meet the legends. My agenda for the day was simple. I hoped to get copies of my zine signed, along with a piece of original artwork I had brought to the show.

Haruo Nakajima: The Man They Call "Mr. Godzilla."

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The first person I met that day was Haruo Nakajima. He is the man they call "Mr. Godzilla." Mr. Nakajima played Godzilla in 12 consecutive films! He donned the infamous suit in most of the classic films during the Showa Era(1954-1975). His work on the series began with the original Godzilla (Gojira) in 1954, and ended with final performance in Godzilla VS Gigan in 1972. For 12 amazing films he wore a costume that was 6.5 feet tall and weighed over 200 pounds. Meeting him in person was truly an honor. He is a gracious and humble man who greatly appreciates his many adoring fans. His dedication to his fans was truly admirable. This 87 year old gentleman signed autographs all day, every day, for three consecutive days. He rarely took a break from the action. It was remarkable. Having him sign my zine was a profound moment for which I will forever be eternally grateful. This was as close as I will ever get to meeting Godzilla himself in person.

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Keizo Murase: The Man Who Made the Monsters

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Keizo Murase began his incredible career working part time as an assistant to special effects genius Eiji Tsuburaya. His immense talent as both a sculptor and an artist helped him quickly rise in the ranks at Toho Studios. He would help create some of the most infamous Godzilla foes, including King Kong, Baragon, King Ghidorah, and most notably, Mothra. It's definitely worth mentioning that Godzilla VS Mothra (1964) was one of the most profitable and popular films in the long history of Toho Studios. Mr. Murase is a bright and cheerful man. He was full of smiles for everyone who met him. He also worked tirelessly to sign autographs over the course of the three day show. Seeing my zine in the hands of the man who helped create some of my favorite monsters was truly a sight to behold. For a moment I was in awe.

Shin'ichi Wakasa: The Father of Millennium Godzilla

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Shin'ichi Wakasa is the man who brought Godzilla back to life in the modern age. He began work as a creature creator when he was only 18. By the time he was 20 he had started his own company called Monsters Inc. He is an artistic prodigy in every sense of the word. His first film in the series was Godzilla VS Mecha Godzilla II (1993). He was first tasked with helping to create a baby Godzilla. He also worked on Space Godzilla, King Ghidorah and the modern Mecha Godzilla. He worked on films during both the Heisei Era and the Millennium eras. His most famous creation was the incredible millennium Godzilla, which is my personal favorite Godzilla design. (Followed closely by Space Godzilla.) I am a huge fan of his work, to say the least. I could not wait to meet him in person. Upon meeting Mr. Wakasa, I told him that he created my all time favorite Godzilla design. He actually shook my hand and thanked me for my admiration of his work. I was stunned and instantly humbled. This was a tremendous honor.

Shinji Nishikawa: The Art of Movie Monsters

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Shinji Nishikawa is a prolific artist and designer who has done work in many fields, from comic books and manga to movies and TV. He started his work in thisfranchise by designing the villain for the film Godzilla VS Biollante (1989). His work in the series continued for many years, giving him the opportunity to re-imagine some of Godzilla's most legendary foes, including Ghidorah, as well as creating new enemies such as Battra. He has also created a comic book called Godzilla Legend, where thousands of tiny Godzillas terrorize Japan. I was also delighted to learn that he is a fellow Star Wars fan! Now I thought it might be disrespectful to ask Mr. Nishikawa to sign my zine, as the cover featured artwork created by someone else. So instead I purchased a glossy photo of his work and had him sign that instead. My plan is to have the image framed so that I might hang it at the center of my Godzilla memorabilia collection.

Legends Unite on Stage

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Finally the best part of the show was upon us. On Sunday, the third day of Monsterpalooza, the legends of Godzilla gathered together on stage for a special event. The panel was called "Breathing Life into Godzilla." Haruo Nakajima, Keizo Murase and Shin'ichi Wakasa shared their incredible stories of working on the Godzilla franchise. They were joined by artist and designer Shinji Nishikawa, who stood over to one side drawing creatures on a white board while the rest of the gang shared their tales. Fans listened spell bound as the legends recounted their many adventures. At the end of the panel they were joined on stage by a man wearing a Godzilla costume. That's when I witnessed something incredible. I saw Mr. Haruo Nakajima demonstrating some of his signature moves to the man dressed as Godzilla. He was actually instructing him on how to perform Godzilla's famous hand gestures. This was easily one of the best moments of the show. The man in the costume was so grateful he actually kneeled before the legends in a profound display of respect.

A Special Moment...

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As the celebrity panel drew to a close I witnessed something amazing. At the back of the theater I saw a baby boy dressed as Godzilla meeting the man who appeared on stage wearing his own incredible Godzilla costume. This moment was truly special. It was well worth the price of admission just to see it. This is a memory you cannot buy for any amount of money. This is why I love Monsterpalooza, and also why I love Godzilla. They both create a bridge between the generations, bringing young and old together in a celebration of all that is fun and wonderful.

About The Author: Elliott S. Thomas is our resident horror movie maniac, zine publisher and our intrepid man in the field. He is currently on a flight to Japan after hearing that Godzilla had been sighted in Tokyo.

Be sure to check out our Hollywood YouTube Channel for more videos from the show.