the net guide for creative
DOWSE Guide to the
by Tony Lee editor of
The Official Godzilla Compendium
J.D. Lees and Marc Gerasini
Random House, 144 pages large paperback US$16.00
review by Octavio Ramos Jr
Although short on detail, The Official Godzilla Compendium collects synopses
of the original Godzilla films (known as the 'Showa' series in Japan) and the second
wave of films (known as the 'Heisei') and provides some glimpses into the making of
the films, the evolution of the monster costumes (particularly Godzilla’s ever-changing
look), and other trivia tidbits. The book sprinkles in a number of interesting editorials,
such as 'Godzilla and the Atomic Age' by science fiction historian J. Pierce, 'Godzilla
as a Parenting Tool' by psychologist Dr. Randall E. Osborne, and 'Godzilla’s Dinosaur
Roots' by paleontologist Dr. Ken Carpenter. Rounding out the book are profiles of all
the monsters, including drawings by artist Arthur Adams and summaries of each
creature’s vital statistics and fighting tactics.
Godzilla fans may find the film discussions lacking, mostly because the authors
tend to emphasize the good things about each film while omitting weaknesses. Although
most fans are loyal to Godzilla, his allies, and enemies, they are willing to admit
that both series had some stinkers. It’s difficult to accept the evaluation that
Godzilla versus Megalon, for example, as a solid effort, when in fact much of
it was culled from previous films.
This quibble aside, the writing is clear and effective and the information is
interesting and at times quite enlightening with respect to Godzilla mythology. As a
side note, there is a much more detailed history of Godzilla (both of the films
themselves and behind-the-scenes stories): Steve Ryfle’s Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star,
The Unauthorized Biography of "The Big G."
The most exciting component of this book consists of the monster profiles. No
other book has compiled such as collection. All the monsters are included, from
Godzilla, King Kong, Anguiris, and Rodan to the lesser-known Varan, Kumonga, and
Kamacuras. The center of the book also provides color photographs of all Godzilla
poster art, as well as some hardback and comic book covers. These two components make
this book a must-have for Godzilla fans.
Octavio Ramos Jr
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