On the morning of Saturday July 15th, my son, Luke, and I arrived at the Crowne Plaza in Rosemont, Illinois wondering what to do first. This was the 24th G-FEST (Godzilla Festival) and my 15th. For me, it’s never been just a convention but more a family tradition. Luke’s been to just about every one since he was born (he’s 13 now) and my four kids together have participated in every G-FEST activity imaginable. We’ve submitted models, participated in the costume contest, Luke won first place in the video game room last year and Alex (my eldest) got the blue ribbon in a Kaiju poetry contest when he was six. My kids and I were so entwined with G-FEST that it was actually painful covering it for this site during the years Alex had outgrown Godzilla, as indicative of the three-hanky sob-fest I posted HERE. Apparently my kids, themselves, weren’t immune to it either. My daughter, Jade, who was more or less dragged to these events growing up said that when she saw the end credit scene of Skull Island (where the existence of Rodan, King Ghidorah, and Mothra were revealed) she was flooded with nostalgia over G-FEST.
How do I love thee, Godzilla? Let me count the ways…
For a monster-loving kid like me growing up in the ‘70s, giant Japanese monsters represented the pinnacle of entertainment. Those glorious films were just about the only thing worth staying inside for back at a time when kids actually wanted to be outdoors. Of all the notable behemoths to have ever graced the silver screen, there were none I revered more than the “King of Monsters” himself, Godzilla. The moment his iconic roar filled my living room I’d be transfixed, especially if he was up against my second favorite kaiju, King Ghidorah (sorry, Gamera, but you were a distant third). Back then it never occurred to me that I was cheering on a guy in a costume as I’d fully embraced the idea of giant monsters roaming the earth and Japan just happening to be the only ones “lucky” enough to see them. Adolescence ushered in the grim reality about “men in rubber suits” and it wouldn’t be until years later that I’d gain a true appreciation for them. The reality is, these folks gave rubber-suited monsters an edge in the personality department that many of the stop-motion ones lacked. This was especially true for those played by the quintessential suit actor himself, Harou Nakajima. Nakajima has the distinction of playing the original Rodan, one of the Gargantuas (which I did a retro piece on last year), and Godzilla from 1954-1972 among others. Needless to say, when I learned that the eighty-eight-year-old legend would be attending Days of the Dead’s 2017 Indianapolis show, I knew I had to be there!
Check out the amazing monster models of G-FEST XXIII!
Last month I attended Chicago’s G-FEST (Godzilla Festival) for the thirteenth year in a row – a lucky number for me as it marked the return of my eldest son, Alex, to the Godzilla fold. Back in 2004, when we first started attending, he was a six year old Godzilla-obsessed kid who’d later anticipate this event more than Christmas itself. That is, of course, until puberty reared its ugly head and whisked away all love of dinosaurs, spaceships, and the “King of Monsters” in favor of hanging with peers and militaristic video games like Call of Duty. Needless to say, I was taken aback when he requested to join my youngest son, Luke, and I for this year’s event. I’m thinking it might be his way of seeking past childhood comforts before he leaves for the Air Force Academy next month. Whatever the reason, it was great having him back as the Fuentes headed to Rosemont.
I’ve attended the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) for the last four years and each time it rolls around I get more and more excited about it. The success of the Marvel films reignited my love of comic books and inspired me to dig out that old collection of mine; thirteen long boxes featuring the ‘70s and ‘80s exploits of Spider-Man, The Uncanny X-Men, The Mighty Avengers, and so on. This year I attended the event with my friend, Elizabeth Ocon, along with my thirteen year old daughter, Jade. I think it was Jade’s excitement that caused me to anticipate this event as I did back when I was in my teens and attending Chicago’s Comic Con (as that event was called back in the day).