Sometimes, the fans just have to take charge themselves...
Travis and Michael come from humble beginnings as fans celebrating kaiju and tokusatsu on their various podcasts. Their enthusiasm went beyond their shows and the dynamic duo found themselves impassioned to give fans a new type of kaiju-centric publication.
Though their venture into Kaiju Ramen Magazine is a year old, with four issues under its belt, the project continues to grow with more and more fans demanding content.
Recently, the podcast partners created another Kickstarter to deliver an annual collection of all four issues. The penultimate "Volume 1" will include new articles and a brand new cover by legendary Godzilla artist Matt Frank.
It has been this writer's honor to have an article included in that collection, but it's an even greater thrill to introduce our good friends and fellow kaiju fans, Travis and Michael.
What inspired you both to launch the Kaiju Ramen fan-zine in the first place?
Travis: We saw a need in the giant monster community for a magazine that gave more attention to the fans and less on the movies themselves. There’s so many creative and inspiring people in the fandom and I finally said to myself, “putting together a digital magazine would be fun.” I had no idea that it would be so well received by so many people.
Michael: I second everything Travis said. We saw an opportunity to put something out into the fandom that we thought it desperately needed. A positive kaiju focused magazine that truly puts the fans of the genre front and center. It’s no secret it took some convincing to get me on board, but I’m happy I said yes. It’s been a rewarding journey so far.
Travis, you've hosted the Kaiju Weekly Podcast since 2018, can you share with us what inspired you to start that project and how it evolved into branching out to editorial content?
Travis: It’s funny because so many kaiju podcasts exist now, and they did back then too I’m sure, but at the time I had no idea there were other giant monster themed podcasts. I’m the type of person who needs a creative outlet and podcasting seemed like a good way to express my love for these movies in a creative way. Branching out from there has just been a natural process. As I’ve gotten to know more people in the kaiju community I’ve wanted to help highlight their voices and their creativity as well.
Michael, you're an avid collector of all things giant monster, can you share with us what kick started that interest? Of all the collectibles you own, which one is your favorite and why?
Michael: Oh, boy. Let me take another sip of some grape juice plus before I answer this one. I was fortunate enough to have had two parents that fostered a sense of wonder and excitement in me early. Instead of going to school to be a lawyer or a doctor they said, “go to art school." That’s not the path I initially took, but that’s another story for another time.
My dad was a numismatist which is just a fancy way of saying he was a coin collector--Which is really a fascinating area to dig into when you have time. Seeing my dad’s eyes light up when he was able to find a piece to his collection that he’d been searching for made an impression on me. What started my collecting journey was Christmas of 1994 when Power Rangers was at its height in popularity. My mom had been making trips to the local mall, almost every weekend, just so she could find all of the new Bandai Mighty Morphin Power Rangers toys for me. And on Christmas Eve they put them all in this HUGE box and gave it to me the next day. If a kid can have an out of body experience then it’s safe to say I had one the moment I opened the box.
I learned the value of things early on. Coming from a working, middle class household I didn't find out until much later how much of a stretch financially that was for my parents to do that for me. I still have all of those toys to this day and they’re some of the most precious items in my collection because they remind me of just how lucky I was during my childhood.
To someone who’s heavily involved in the collecting side of fandom, asking, “which is your favorite” is like asking a parent, “who is your favorite child?” It’s difficult and almost impossible because there’s something I love about everything I own. Whether it’s the paint application, how goofy or how accurate the sculpt looks, or the time it took to acquire it, there’s something I appreciate in every piece of my collection. But if I had to pick right now I’d say my Bandai Legacy Dragonzord because that’s one piece I never got to own as a kid. It was so incredibly difficult to find Dragonzord on the shelf in the 90s and most of the ones you find on ebay now are either incomplete or in terrible shape. So when I found the Legacy version from 2014, I was 7 years old again with the same level of love and excitement only certain people can understand.
For fans who may not be aware of the magazine yet, what can new readers expect from the next upcoming issue and what plans do you have currently in the pipeline for future issues?
Travis: Our very next issue is dedicated to Henshin heroes and tokusatsu tv shows--things like Ultraman, Kamen Rider, Power Rangers--I’m really excited for people to read the articles we have lined up for that. As far as future issues, we are going to continue highlighting different creators from within the community and featuring articles from lesser known monster movies. We all love Godzilla, that’s a given, but the kaiju genre is huge and diverse. We want the magazine to not be focused only on the big franchises everyone knows about.
Michael: Another exciting thing that fans can expect in upcoming issues is an expansion of our “Artist Ally” sections of the magazine. Up to this point it’s primarily been just a spotlight where we pick an artist and give their bio and some examples of their work and call it good. We want to expand on that in future issues and conduct actual interviews with these artist so that fans of the magazine can learn more about them as individuals and not just their work. We felt that was super important.
Something I’m personally excited about is I’m starting an article series in Issue 5 that goes through the Power Ranger franchise as we know it so far. The article series will be called The Power Trip: My Journey Through the Power Rangers Franchise and will serve as a companion to the podcast I just started with a very similar name. It’s essentially going to be my love letter to a franchise that still, to this day, has impacted me in a very positive way.
What is your ultimate goal and vision for Kaiju Ramen?
Travis: I think our ultimate goal is to keep publishing great content. We’d love to have a wider physical release for each issue; currently we are only doing limited physical runs. Who knows really what the future holds. The idea of “Kaiju Ramen Fest” has been tossed around. [laughs]
Michael: [laughs] “Kaiju Ramen Fest” is definitely a dream right now, but maybe someday it will come up from the depths. For now, like Travis said, we’re hoping to expand our readership to the point were it becomes feasible to do a physical subscription model or at least we can do much larger print runs of our magazine. All that will come in time I’m sure, but the ultimate goal is just to produce something that not only celebrates the genre we love, but the fans that it means so much to as well.
The upcoming Kaiju Ramen Volume 1 sounds like quite the undertaking. Chronicling a year's worth of content with 300 pages, quite a bit of new content has been teased in addition to re-prints of previous work as well. Can you share with us any details about some of the new content we can expect from Volume 1?
Travis: We’ve had a few articles that we’ve held on to because they didn’t fit into the issues at the time, and now we have room for them. There’s also going to be some fun things that focus more on the “ramen” side of Kaiju Ramen.
Michael: Exactly! We’re super excited. Kaiju Ramen Volume 1 will serve as sort of a “director's cut” of what the magazine has become so far.
The Kickstarter campaign is a result of demand by fans for a tangible, physical copy of your work. We know this campaign has already reached its financial goal as of January 14th, but is a limited run and will not be for sale through your website. Given the obvious demand, do you plan to look at yearly volume recaps like this one or full-fledged print copies of Kaiju Ramen in the future?
Travis: I think that people have made it clear they’d like more physical copies of each issue, and that’s something we definitely want to expand on as we move forward. We’ve definitely talked about if Kaiju Ramen vol 2 or even vol 3 will happen, and the short answer is, we are definitely considering. It all really depends on how much support the magazine receives in the coming year.
Michael: As you guys know, fandoms can often be fickle. Tastes change, a wave of support can sometimes turn into a drip over time. If the support and enthusiasm for our magazine is still there in a year I think that it’s totally within the realm of possibility that we will be doing another volumized issue or something else entirely. By that time we’re hoping we won’t have to rely on Kickstarter to make it happen. Until then, we’re gonna continue doing what we can to steward a successful publication and see what happens.
Kaiju Ramen has only been in production since 2020 and you've already gained some tremendous notoriety within the community. At what point did you notice the magazine really picking up steam? Was there a specific catalyst that you recall which propelled the magazine's popularity?
Travis: For me it’s when we started getting attention from big names in the community like Matt Frank and Kyle Yount… even Adam Wingard has a copy of our magazine.
Michael: When we started having people come to us to either write articles or do the cover art instead of Travis or I reaching out to them, that to me is when things really started to click that Kaiju Ramen could be something really special. Knowing that fandom veterans, like Kyle and Matt, support what we’re doing is just a bonus.
Are there any individuals in the Kaiju community whether in an official sense or fan sense that you hope to interact with some day that you haven't already?
Travis: For me, I’d love to sit down and interview some of the people who have directly worked on these kaiju and tokusatsu properties. Actors, directors, suit designers, just to hear from them and their experiences while creating these films that we enjoy so much.
Michael: I’ll go a step further and say that one of my bucket list items for the magazine is to be in a position to ask legendary monster illustrators Bob Eggleton or YÅ«ji Kaida to do cover art for us. Outside of that, like Travis, I’d like to sit down and talk with the actors and actresses of these legendary franchises. Jason David Frank of Power Rangers, Akira Takarada who needs no introduction. Kenpachiro Satsuma, Tsutomu Kitagawa, Gareth Edwards, Melody Perkins, Amy Jo Johnson, Rie Ôta … sorry I’m fanboying right now, but 'good Godzilla' the list is so long!
In addition to both of your podcasts and now Kaiju Ramen, are there any other Godzilla / Kaiju related activities, projects or events you both hope to be involved with down the road?
Travis: I said it before, but the words “Kaiju Ramen Fest” have been tossed around a lot. [laughs] Honestly though, I enjoy talking to people about these things. For a long time I was isolated in my love of Godzilla, so getting to interact with people and nerd out over giant monster stuff is a dream come true. That is to say, I’m always open to appearing on podcasts and live streams and just share the kaiju love.
Michael: Travis is pretty obsessed with this Kaiju Ramen Fest idea, but for me nothing really sticks out at the moment. We might try and do a panel at a con or some other Fest one day. I’m not sure what topic we’d discuss, but I think it could be a fun experience. Outside of that I’m pretty content with the circle of friends we’ve made along this journey.
I’ve been doing a lot of interviews promoting Kaiju Ramen lately, and I’m grateful for all of those opportunities including the opportunity to talk with your team here at Scified. But I just like talking with other fans about the stuff we enjoy like Kaiju, Henshin Heroes, and especially Power Rangers. I’m a fan first and a magazine creator second. I’ve just been fortunate enough to have them overlap.
Finally, what's your favorite Godzilla movie?
Travis: Godzilla 2000, without hesitation. I had already been a Godzilla fan for many years by that point, but it was the first one I’d seen in theaters. That experience alone makes it my number one pick.
Michael: Godzilla 2000 is great and I love it, but the one I keep going back to the most is Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla from 1974. After I began learning more about the background of that film, and specifically the history behind Japan’s turbulent relationship with Okinawa up to that point, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla always has something new and interesting to dig into. It also helps that it’s just entertaining as hell. It has a lot of 007-like qualities that I love.
Thank you Travis and Michael for taking the time to answer some questions and spread the word about their kaiju magazine that is catching fire.
You can check out the official Kaiju Ramen website and download the first four issues today!
And make sure you support the upcoming Kaiju Ramen Volume 1 by supporting the releases Kickstarter Campaign. There are 12 days left to support it as of this writing!
Also make sure check out Travis and Michael's podcasts:
Kaiju Weekly Podcast
The Henshin Men Podcast
The Power Trip: A Journey Through the Power Rangers Franchise
If you are a fan of Godzilla, Toho and the Monsterverse and are looking for a welcoming online community to share your passion and engage with other die-hard Godzilla fans, look no further! Join in the Godzilla Movies forum - a dedicated community of Godzilla movie and Monsterverse fans!
Godzilla Quick Links
- Godzilla vs. Kong 2 Official Plot Synopsis
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This article was written By G. H. (Gman) and published on 2022-01-19 00:55:51
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