Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I keep forgetting to mention this. But my second and a half book came out in November. It's called Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters: Defending the Earth with Ultraman and Godzilla. Even though the author credit is August Ragone, and even though August is a real guy and he wrote the text, and even though my name only appears buried deep within the acknowledgments section (thanks), it's really my book as much as it is his.

Here's why. I sold the idea of a book about the life and work of Eiji Tsuburaya -- the man who did the special effects for the classic Godzilla films of the 50s and 60s -- to Chronicle Books a number of years ago. That was the easy part. Then I had to sell the idea of the book to Tsuburaya Productions. That was like pulling teeth. But eventually I pushed it through the layers of corporate bureaucratic dumbness and got things rolling. Then I had to get the book itself together. As with most books Chronicle publishes (like The Beatles Anthology or Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd or even What's Your Poo Telling You?) the focus was going to be more on photos than text. So I had to run all over Japan and America rounding up cool photos of Eiji Tsuburaya at work on Godzilla movies and Ultraman TV shows, paying special attention to pictures that hadn't been published a million times over already. I then had to figure out who owned the rights to these shots and secure permission for their use as well as arrange proper payment to the rights holders. Then I had to write captions for all the pictures and tell the book designers which chapters they went with.

On the writing side, I had to commission August to write it and see that he got paid. After he turned in a manuscript nearly three times as long as we could use, I had to work with Chronicle to decide where to cut it. Then I had to go through the entire text, with August's MS on one side of the desk and a pile of Japanese books about Eiji Tsuburaya on the other, and fact check everything, making corrections where needed. August very definitely wrote the text of the book. No question about that. I don't make any claims to having written anything but the photo captions and my own sidebar, as well as ghost-writing Akira Tsuburaya's sidebar based on interviews with him I conducted for the book. But there wouldn't have been a book to write without the stuff I did. So I feel like it's my baby, and maybe August is my (gulp) boyfriend... (to extend the baby metaphor to a highly uncomfortable degree)

I'm really happy with the way the book turned out. I think it's one of the best books on the subject of Eiji Tsuburaya's life and work ever done, even including some of the terrific ones available in Japanese. August turned in a fine piece of writing and the designers did an amazing job of taking what we gave them and turning it into a very classy book.

Aside from being a cool book about guys dressing in rubber dinosaur costumes and knocking down miniature recreations of Tokyo (which is enough right there if you ask me), it's an incredible piece of social anthropology. The very first Godzilla film (available on DVD as Gojira / Godzilla Deluxe Collector's Edition (Gojira/Godzilla [1954] / Godzilla, King of the Monsters [1956])) was probably the very first film about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Watch the Japanese version sometime. It's a fairly grim and serious movie, with the monster as such an obvious stand-in for the bomb you can't possibly miss it. Eiji had done special effects for Japanese propaganda pictures during the war, and it was those techniques he put to use on his monster movies. But his work on propaganda films got him blacklisted by the US occupation forces, which is why he didn't do much work under his own name for the first few years after the war. Godzilla was a movie that could not have been made under US occupation censorship rules. It's significant that it was made just a couple years after the Yanks left.

So there ya go. All you folks who are saying you want to read another book by me, there's your chance. Makes a great Buddha's Enlightenment Day (Dec. 8) gift!


Mysterion said...

And NO Raymond Burr in Japan???


Anonymous said...

c'mon brad, we wanna hear moer about the Third book


DB said...

And after all this effort on their behalf Tsuburaya Productions is letting you go? This confirms that the company has their collective heads up their ass.

The way they've failed to capitalize on Ultraman in the U.S. market will forever be a mystery to me as well. The only DVD collection of Ultraman is simply not up to the standards that one would expect. I don't understand why they're not mining gold from that intellectual property. Many of us grew up watching the old Ultraman shows on early cable giants like TBS and WGN out of Chicago and have fond memories of it.

Tsuburaya Productions seems determined to squander all that goodwill in this market. I hope your book fares better.

Anonymous said...

Man, if there's one book cover I don't want to see Amazon's invitation to "Search Inside" on, it's "What's Your Poo Telling You".

Erg said...

I liked the Japanese version of Godzilla hella lot better. But when I was five the Raymond Burr version worked for me too. I am not sure I am enough of a fan boy to buy the biography though. Well I am, but I am not enough I explain it to my wife in a way that will allow me to continue to have sex with her.

Anonymous said...

well now...I've been curious about what kind of things you do in your 'real' job--you know, the rent paying job--the one that puts the tofu on the table--
You sound pleased with the tangible results--a book you aren't ashamed to have been part of bringing into this world....

Anonymous said...

Brad you also re-wrote my toy side bar and made it shine ! This is your baby and I really hope someone at Tsuburaya will at least acknowledge your very positive and really life long support of Ultraman and the Company. I think you will be onto better things and you have my full support in that ! Let me know if you swing through SF in the future,,, you need to sign that Mirrorman statue !!


Anonymous said...

Elvis is the King of rock,
Michael Jackson is the King of pop,
Michael Flatley is the Lord Of Dance
and Brad Warner is the Nerd of punk.