Arts

Big Wow! Comic Fest Comes to
the San Jose Convention Center

godzilla GREEN MENACE: Kenpachiro Satsuma donned a rubber suit for eight different 'Godzilla' movies. He will be on hand at the Big Wow! fest.

One of the most famous movie monsters will stomp into San Jose to celebrate his 60th anniversary and the release of a brand-new Hollywood reboot. Godzilla will be among the cinematic creatures, superheroes and comic characters feted at the Big Wow! Comic Fest taking place this weekend at the San Jose Convention Center.

An array of panel discussions and meet-and-greets featuring guest celebrities are slated to take place throughout the event, including an appearance from Kenpachiro Satsuma, who portrayed Godzilla, starting with 1984's Return of Godzilla, and donned the rubber suit for eight films in all. Satoshi "Bin" Furuya, who played the original Ultraman, will also be in attendance, and both will be on hand for two special after-hours screenings of the new Legendary Pictures release of Godzilla.

August Ragone, author of Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters, a profile of the filmmaker and special effects wizard who brought Godzilla and a host of other beloved kaiju creatures to life, will introduce the duo and lead discussions at several panels and the film screenings.

Although the popular image of Godzilla in mainstream media for many years could be seen as that of a somewhat lovable, goofy creature that fought an array of rubber foes in films made mainly for children, the character got its start as a very serious, dark symbol of the nuclear age.

"The original film was important for its time—as many scholars and authors have written before, Japan was the only nation to have suffered an atomic attack, but I don't think the Japanese were trying to work out an anxiety about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which is what everyone says," Ragone notes, instead pointing to an incident in which a Japanese fishing boat was exposed to radioactive fallout from a 1954 U.S. nuclear test near the Marshall Islands. The event shocked the citizens of Japan.

"The panic that it caused in the country, and the tension between the United States and Japan, the reparations the Americans tried to pay, this was the first and foremost thing in their minds, so when the film came out in November of 1954, that's what everybody was thinking about," Ragone says.

Since then, Godzilla has appeared in nearly 30 films and countless television shows, comics, commercials, toy lines, and virtually every other imaginable form of mass media. The fact that this weekend's festivities coincide with the opening weekend of the new film should make Bay Area Godzilla fans extremely happy—even those approaching the new major Hollywood studio picture with cautious optimism.

Big Wow! Comic Fest

May 17-18

San Jose Convention Center

$10-$35


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