"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" Thank-yous

by Armand Vaquer

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan became a reality on January 13. It is now available at ComiXpress.com. I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge a few people.

Following my job lay-off in November 2007, I was collecting unemployment and looking for work. Due to the economic conditions then, and now, positions as an insurance claims examiner weren't available. Since I had some idle time, I had to do something.

Above, Armand Vaquer.

So, I had the idea to put together a travel guide for kaiju movie locations in Japan. This would be a handy guide for people traveling to Japan to see the locations depicted in the movies over the past 55 years.

Beginning in February 2008, I began work on the guide. Compiling the information and writing it up took nearly four months. I approached it by going north to south. I started with the island of Hokkaido and then the main island of Honshu and finished up with the island of Kyushu, and included points in-between.

I obtained the assistance of G-FAN magazine editor and publisher J. D. Lees (above) to edit and do the lay-outs. The guide was originally conceived as a special, but separate, edition of G-FAN. The original title conception was The G-FAN Guide To Kaiju Japan. But it was decided by J. D. and I that it would be better if it stood on its own merits and it then became The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. The average person would have no idea what "kaiju" means (although fans would). I wanted the guide targeted to people outside of giant monster fandom. Replacing "kaiju" with "monster" would immediately tell the average person that Japanese monsters would be the focus of the Guide.

Above, Mr. & Mrs. Martin Arlt.

This is my first venture into the publishing world. And, boy, did I get an education on it! The work involved was a lot more complicated than I expected. I can truly appreciate the time it consumes publishers like J. D. or Martin Arlt of Mad Scientist magazine who have to crank out issues on a monthly, or even quarterly schedule. Then again, they have several years of publishing under their belts. So it pays to have experience.

I found that going to the printer that J. D. uses would be cost-prohibitive. Then Martin Arlt steered me to ComiXpress. ComiXpress is a company created by comic book veterans to provide a means for the budding creator to publish their own comic book or magazine. I liked their approach and their terms. So I decided to go through ComiXpress.

In the fall of 2009, J. D. completed the layouts and got them over to me. I am pleased with the results. I then solicited for some advertising and got some.

Above, Archie Waugh, who did the cover.

I then came up with a cover idea, using a photo of the Godzilla statue in Hibiya that I took in 2007. It was perfect for a cover. I came up with a concept and posted it over on Facebook. Archie Waugh, a 20-year graphics artist, then volunteered to compose the cover using my idea. The resulting cover is very impressive. Archie has also found himself a victim of the current economic conditions, so he had the time to create the cover. (He's still available for a job, so if anyone needs a graphic artist, he would be a great addition to your firm!)

Above, the cover by Archie Waugh.

With the cover done, the layouts done and the ads in, the Guide was ready to go to ComiXpress in the beginning of December. Originally, it was slated to be available on January 4, but due to equipment malfunctions and the Christmas holidays, it was delayed a week.

I composed a news release on its availability weeks before, so all I had to do was to add in a couple of details and it was ready to go. It is fortunate that I did this, as my mom had been ailing for several weeks and we had to ambulance her to the hospital on January 13, the day the Guide "went live." She had to undergo exploratory surgery that night, and the doctors's findings were not good. In fact, they did not expect her to survive the night. Sadly, although she lived through the next day and most of the next night, she passed away around 2:00 am January 15.

Her passing, funeral planning (the funeral will be held in Riverside this coming Thursday) and liquidation of her belongings have taken up most of my time. Once things settle down again, I will be able to concentrate on promoting the Guide. Although she won't be able to hold a copy of the Guide in her hands, she did see the layouts and cover and was aware it became available. She was very pleased!

But I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank those who were instrumental in getting the Guide off the ground.

To order The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan, go here.

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