On September 6th, 2013, J.M. Martin launched a Kickstarter for Kaiju Rising, an kaiju monster anthology. With five days left to go before being funded, Kaiju Rising has long hit it’s initial goal of $10,000 and has climbed higher than $14,000 from over 300 backers. Today, Tim Marquitz, author of The Demon Squad series, has found time to speak to us on the subject of kaiju that he’ll be editing.
He2etic: Aside from those in Pacific Rim, what other kaiju have inspired you? Not just in the movies, but in games or literature? Are there any that, looking back, surprise you that they are kaiju fiction?
Tim: You know, of all the guys involved in the project, I’m probably the least knowledgeable with regards to Kaiju. The vast majority of my experience has been growing up watching Godzilla and King Kong and all the Godzilla versus whatever stories, like Mothra and whatnot.
As such, it’s kind of hard for me to credit the genre with a ton of inspiration beyond the most recent blockbuster, Pacific Rim.
He2etic: What would you say is the absolute most original kaiju you’ve ever seen? And what kaiju do you consider to be your favourite of all time?
“I believe that creators stepping outside of that defined mold can only help to promote the genre as a whole.”
Tim: Given my experience, I’m going to twist this one around and go with the most original I’ve ever read as opposed to seen. Some of the authors in Kaiju Rising have gone out of their way to create memorable and different kaiju.
Going through these stories is making me realize just how wide a concept kaiju is. While there are definitely the standard insect and animal ones, there are a bunch of off the wall, creative and disturbing monsters on display, which are definitely the most memorable I’ve encountered.
He2etic: At first glance, the traditional kaiju is basically a kind of gigantic animal or insect. What are your feelings on unorthodox kaiju, such as giant crazed robots, the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man from Ghostbusters, or Kineticlops from the PS2 game War of the Monsters? Do you consider them to really be kaiju?
Tim: I love the idea, and yes I do. I think it’s great for the genre to have a wider range of concepts. While there are certainly the definitive types, I believe that creators stepping outside of that defined mold can only help to promote the genre as a whole.
The idea of giant monsters made out of marshmallow or rock or whatever are fantastic. There are so many ways to go with the idea while remaining faithful to the kaiju idea of a giant monstrosity.
“The interaction and struggle for survival is the story of the kaiju…”
He2etic: What kind of themes do you enjoy seeing in your kaiju stories? Do you prefer your kaiju to be an unapologetic evil or sympathetic in some regard?
Tim: For me, I like the personalization/humanization of the kaiju.
While I want them to be destructive and threatening, I like the feeling of them having a purpose behind their actions. The animalistic/instinctive nature is less interesting to me than the idea of the monster having cause to attack humanity, the two cultures at odds.
The friction between the two is what makes the story for me. Mindless destruction is fun to watch, but it’s limited and can easily become repetitive. A monster working toward a goal makes me way more interested.
He2etic: As a niche genre, what are some common challenges you think writers face when concocting kaiju tales? What are the most common pitfalls they should strive avoid?
Tim: I think writers need to keep originality in mind. Don’t just run with a giant lizard or insect monster because it’s cool. Create something that’ll stand out. Give it a purpose and reason for its conflict with humanity.
I think focusing on the destruction would be a bad move for kaiju authors. The interaction and struggle for survival is the story of the kaiju, not the wreckage strewn about. That part’s fun, but people want to see the smaller, weaker humans rise up and conquer. Not showing that evolution or piece of hope takes away from the genre, in my opinion.
That’s all the time we have today! Thanks again to Tim Marquitz! If you want to donate to the Kickstarter, there is still time left! And one final stretch goal to root for.