MEMOIRS OF A GODZILLA FANDOM PIONEER! Bradford Boyle on Publishing the Seminal Fanzine ‘Japanese Giants’!

A recent photo of Bradford Boyle in Cannon Beach, Oregon. Photo © Bradford G. Boyle.

In the mid-1970s, Bradford Boyle took over the publishing duties of the Godzilla-oriented fanzine Japanese Giants from its creator, Stephen Mark Rainey, after issue #1. However, following the publication of issue #4, Mr. Boyle decided to move on to other interests and didn’t look back. In this November 2021 interview with Brett Homenick, Mr. Boyle shares his memories of publishing Japanese Giants in the ’70s.

Brett Homenick: Why don’t we start at the very beginning: When and where were you born?

Bradford Boyle: I popped into existence in Salt Lake City, Utah, 1960. Actually go by Bradford in my old age. Bradford G. Boyle — sounds adult.

BH: What were your interests before you got interested in fanzines?

BB: Monster movies, sports, reading, filmmaking. My friend Mick Worthen and I made Super 8 monster films. Perhaps our pinnacle was “Night of the Carnivorous Corpses” [in] 1973, I think.

BH: Could you tell us about “Night of the Carnivorous Corpses”?

BB: My friends and I were “Jupiter Productions,” which made Super 8 movies. The first ones were four minutes and silent. Our recurring character was a spaceman named Deral. He was based on our teacher, who happened to share the same name. Deral had a disintegrating ray gun which we based on the Teenagers from [Outer] Space ray gun.

The pinnacle of that film series was “Deral and his Disintegrating Device.” After pointing the ray gun at the item to be disintegrated, we would stop the film and move the object, then start the camera again. Poof! Object disappears. My friend Mick then would scratch the film frame by frame for the death ray. Special effects!

“Night of the Carnivorous Corpses” was our magnum opus. Twelve minutes, color, with sound. Inspired by George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, the plot revolved around dead people coming back to life to consume the living. Probably should have trademarked that storyline.

The cover of Japanese Giants #2. Photo © Bradford G. Boyle.

BH: How did you get interested in Godzilla movies?

BB: Television. Back then, only a few television stations existed in any market. Salt Lake City had three, but only one showed monster movies regularly — Channel 4, KCPX, Nightmare Theater on Friday night, and Science Fiction Theater on Saturday afternoon. The station didn’t have much of a film library, so you saw them over and over. It was impossible to see old movies you had heard about if they were not shown on local TV. No cable, no Internet, no VCRs.

Here’s how badly I wanted to see monster films. I was dying to see It Came from the Beneath the Sea. I had become aware of an 16mm film rental company downtown, Hillyard’s Films. I bought their catalog and dreamed up a plot to see my movie. It Came from Beneath the Sea could be rented for $25.00. I thought I could get 30 kids to pay a dollar for an afternoon matinee. A church by my house had a large movie screen in the gym. I was surprised when they agreed to let me use the 16mm projector on a Saturday afternoon. Did not make my money back but saw the movie.

BH: How did you discover Mark Rainey’s Japanese Giants?

BB: It had to be JFFJ [The Japanese Fantasy Film Journal].

Bradford Boyle hard at work on Japanese Giants #4. Photo © Bradford G. Boyle.

BH: How did it happen that you took over the fanzine?

BB: I had been publishing fanzines for several years, locally. As I got involved in fandom and had increased contact with others around the country, I decided to publish a fanzine with national reach. I corresponded with Mark Rainey, and, when he informed me he was not publishing a Japanese Giants issue two, I offered to take over. Giant Japanese monsters were my bag, baby, so everything was copacetic.

BH: How old were you at the time?

BB: Fifteen, just about to turn 16.

BH: What changes did you want to make to the fanzine, if any?

BB: I wanted to make it more professional. Mark had the writing and editing skills, but little graphics experience — or maybe access to supplies.

BH: Which issues of Japanese Giants did you produce?

BB: Two, three, and four, plus ten issues of JGFL, the Japanese Giants Fan Letter, with help from Dave Milner.

BH: What other magazines or fanzines may have inspired you at the time?

BB: Many. There were the professional magazines: Famous Monsters of Filmland, Castle of Frankenstein. My favorite was The Monster Times. A multitude of fanzines: JFFJ, Gore Creatures, Little Shoppe of Horrors.

An index card from Bradford Boyle’s filing system for keeping track of monster movies when he was about 10 years old. Photo © Bradford G. Boyle.

BH: During this time, what were your favorite tokusatsu productions?

BB: Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, Godzilla vs. the Thing second. Luckily, the TV station had those. It took years to see other movies, like Gigantis, the Fire Monster or Destroy All Monsters. Of course, many of the movies and even monsters have been renamed. Ghidrah gained an “O” while I was on sabbatical.

The first movie that hooked me was War of the Monsters (a.k.a. Gamera vs. Barugon, 1966). My dad made me go to bed just when Barugon hatches, so I was pretty young.

BH: What were your biggest challenges in publishing the fanzine?

BB: While money was tight, affordable printing access was my main issue. My first fanzines were photocopied — is “xeroxed” still a word? With limited circulation, that worked fine and was accessible. Not easily accessible like now — no Kinko’s — is that still a word? I did my copying at the University of Utah when you could sign up for extended access to a machine.

Japanese Giants two was offset. East High in Salt Lake City housed the school district’s printing facilities, and graphics classes were taught there. So I printed some of the issue there before I was banned because I was using up too many resources. The rest of issue two and issue three were printed at a company that would let me use the offset presses. I learned how to operate an A. B. Dick 360 and other printing presses in graphics class.

Issue four was photocopied, except the heavy stock cover. My friend and fellow fanzine editor Cornell Kimball’s father owned a large company, Kimball Construction. They had the newest, high-speed, self-collating machines. So one night from dusk to dawn we printed JG #4. Over 10,000 pages copied. One of JG‘s contributors was in town, Dan Briggs, so he joined us.

Bradford Boyle’s business card when he was Japanese Giants publisher. Photo © Bradford G. Boyle.

BH: Do you remember how many subscribers Japanese Giants had? Were there any readers in other countries?

BB: I printed 430 issues of Japanese Giants two. If you have an issue, on the first page the print number is listed. Others issues, maybe 300. I was about to quit after issue two, as not enough issues sold to cover my costs, but then Famous Monsters of Filmland mentioned it. Boom, mailbox flooded. I like to think Forrest Ackerman did that.

I had subscribers in several countries: Germany, England, Canada, others. Just one in Japan, I think.

BH: Do you know how Japanese Giants might have ended up on the radar of Forrest Ackerman or Famous Monsters?

BB: I believe I sent a sample issue with a note. If I remember right, the mention was in the back of an issue. I’d love to know what issue that was if anybody has issues from 1976 to 1978.

BH: Would you do anything differently if you had the chance?

BB: In regards to publishing Japanese Giants, no. There are always typos and other errors that you hope don’t slip through, but they always do on a tight budget and time restrictions. But otherwise each issue was an adventure in securing financing, contributions, and access to printing facilities. By financing, I mean me working at a minimum-wage job. Also, after turning the fanzine over to Ed, I regret not staying in touch. Other interests took over my life, and I lost touch with everybody.

BH: Who were your most helpful contributors?

BB: I had such support I rarely wrote anything but the editorials and news columns. I had written most of the content for my earlier fanzines, so that was different. Mark Rainey, Ed Godziszewski, Peter H. Brothers — what contributors! They all became authors. Bill Gudmundson, Richard Campbell, Barry Kaufman, Dan Briggs, Dave Milner, Dan Murray, especially for finishing the Mothra filmbook on short notice. And Tim Johnson for his covers on issues two and four.

BH: Which contributor seemed to have the best news from Japan at the time?

BB: That I don’t recall.

BH: What were some of the standout articles that you published?

BB: The standout article would be Peter H. Brothers “Godzilla: Coincidence of Allegory.” I also always loved Bill Gudmundson’s contributions, like charts of monster sizes or their footprints.

A footprint chart from Japanese Giants #4. Photo © Bradford G. Boyle.

Just a note to Peter if he’s out there: I didn’t forget the “H.”

BH: How long would it take to put together an issue?

BB: Six months to a year. Lots of variables involved.

BH: What was the difference between Japanese Giants and Japanese Giants Fan Letter, and why did you separate these publications?

BB: Several reasons. The time lag between issues of JG. The increasing speed at which new information was available. But primarily because of the volume of submissions I received. It was mostly artwork, some not that great. I understood the excitement of getting something published.

BH: Did you have any contact with Toho or the other Japanese studios at the time?

BB: No.

BH: What kind of feedback did you receive from readers?

BB: Wonderful feedback, letters, suggestions, art. Everyone apparently wants to draw monsters.

BH: Were there any kind of fandom politics or rivalries that you experienced at the time?

BB: No, fandom was a tight-knit community then. I don’t recall anything but encouragement and support. It was a fun time, and I’m sorry I lost touch.

BH: What kind of relationship did you have with Greg Shoemaker, editor of The Japanese Fantasy Film Journal, at the time?

BB: Just correspondence. He was an icon to me and I didn’t consider starting a friendship. He was always cordial and helpful, but getting a response from him was like a famous person had written me.

BH: Is there anything else you’d like to say about publishing Japanese Giants that we haven’t already discussed?

BB: I found this article about Mark Rainey in his local paper, prior to the first issue, discussing his plan to start Japanese Giants. I’ll send it along; maybe I can embarrass Mark.

An article from the May 23, 1974, issue of The Danville Bee, announcing the creation of Japanese Giants.

BH: When it comes to Japanese Giants, what are you most proud of?

BB: The lasting impact it had on some. I sold some extra issues on eBay recently and was surprised by the comments I got from old fans — over 40 years later!

Additionally, that JG was a group effort of some very talented people who went on to prove it. Of course, contributing to Big G — old-timer slang — fandom, which was small then, but has grown into a mainstream genre. Helped to plant the seeds, I like to think.

BH: Why did you decide to stop publishing Japanese Giants?

BB: Life got too busy. To my surprise, I became a basketball star, and it consumed all my time.

BH: How long was your run as publisher?

BB: Of fanzines, five years. Japanese Giants, an action-packed two years. Years were longer then.

BH: Specifically, what years did you publish Japanese Giants?

BB: Including JGFL, 1976 to 1978. Probably started working on it in 1975.

BH: What other fanzines did you publish?

BB: My first fanzine was OfMSF, which stood for Organization for More Science Fiction. This evolved into Monstrosities. There was also Sci-Fi, which was short-lived. I edited the program for the first Star Trek/science fiction convention in Utah, InterCon. I ran the film program — my earlier film rental experience proved handy. I wrote the film descriptions in the program. I finally got to see Gigantis the Fire Monster and some other films I had wanted to see because, once again, I rented them. But this time somebody else paid.

The program book for InterCon 1976. Photo courtesy of Bradford G. Boyle.

BH: Did you stop publishing all your fanzines at the same time you stopped Japanese Giants?

BB: JFGL went on bit a longer. I can see issue 10 was after Ed’s JG #5 was published. The others were already ex-fanzines. Some sage said, “Fanzines are meant to die.”

BH: Which fanzine of your own was your favorite or most fun to do?

BB: Japanese Giants. But OfMSF was fun because I discovered you could produce a fanzine others would read. It seemed a fantastic concept for a kid. Creature Features [on San Francisco television] host Bob Wilkins had a copy of Monstrosities on his show, which was beyond cool. I had done a short written interview with him that was in the issue. I didn’t notice until just now I spelled his name wrong. He never mentioned that. I got to met him at InterCon. Just a note: Salt Lake City had gotten cable by then. KTVU in San Francisco was one of the new channels.

BH: After your fanzines days, where did life take you?

BB: I played basketball in college. Then [formed] a band called Primal Scream, which performed in Utah and L.A. Not to be confused with the Scottish band Primal Scream — they hadn’t got to America yet. We later reformed as The Consumers. The writer Kurt Vonnegut liked our band. A letter he sent us is now in the Kurt Vonnegut Museum, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Primal Scream gets featured in the L.A. Weekly. Photo courtesy of Bradford G. Boyle.

Then I met the most wonderful girl, Gia, and got married. Retiring from the band, I went back to school and got an MBA. Made an attempt at writing, lots of articles published, but none of my novels were sold. If Matt Groening is reading this, Intergalactic Language Mercenaries would make a fantastic animated series.

Kurt Vonnegut’s letter to The Consumers. Photo courtesy of Bradford G. Boyle.

Gia and I moved to the Far East and backpacked around Southeast Asia. Back home, I made an attempt at the corporate world, but that didn’t work. Authority figures are not my strong suit. Put the backpacks back on and went to Europe until whenever. We came up with the idea of Walkabout Travel Gear, a company that would sell to backpack travelers. Came home, started the business. We were one of the first businesses online, and that kept us busy for 26 years. I believe we were the first digital company that was ran from a motorhome. Recently, we closed the business and retired. Which brings us to the present.

Walkabout Travel Gear, the business Bradford Boyle founded many years after his days in Godzilla fandom. Photo courtesy of Bradford G. Boyle.

BH: Could you talk about your basketball pursuits after finishing up Japanese Giants?

BB: I accepted a scholarship offer from Dixie College in St. George, Utah. Some Utah history background: Mormons grew cotton in the warmer South, thus the “Dixie” name. Even worse, the team name was the Rebels. But back then nobody I knew gave it any thought. My stay was short, as my authority figure issues rose up. The coach and I did not get along, primarily because I am uncomfortable with insanity. So I only played at Dixie for one year.

Bradford Boyle competes against Highland High School. Photo courtesy of Bradford G. Boyle.

I had become enamored with freestyle Frisbee beginning my senior year in high school — the sport where athletes spin the disc on their fingernails and maneuver the disc under their legs or back or wherever. I thought it would become an Olympic sport, and I would have a chance to compete. So, the next couple years, that was my sport, going to tournaments in the summer. Spoiler alert: Freestyle Frisbee did not become an Olympic sport.

Photo courtesy of Bradford G. Boyle.

Out of nowhere, I was offered a basketball scholarship at the College of Eastern Utah. The coach had watched me play in a pick-up game. Anyway, another year of basketball, this time successful. I led the conference in rebounding and was all-conference. Also set a school record for rebounds in a game, 29. After that year, I decided enough basketball. I wasn’t going to make the NBA, and I had almost enough college credits to graduate, so scholarships and free college weren’t important. And my band Primal Scream formed, so that was the next adventure.

BH: Where did you live in the Far East?

BB: We lived in Taipei, Taiwan. It was an exciting time, as the country was just developing economically. It was crazy. Everything was illegal, but nothing was against the law. Jobs for Westerners were everywhere. Using Taipei as a home base, we backpacked into China in 1990. In rural towns, Westerners were rare, especially six-foot-six ones with a blond wife. The Mandarin Chinese I learned after “beer” was “very tall.” We also went to many other countries. Somewhere out there is a magazine International Living with some articles I wrote about the adventures. Our stop in Tokyo was too brief to visit Toho.

Bradford Boyle pilots a boat on China’s Li River in 1990. Photo © Bradford G. Boyle.

BH: Have you kept up with the genre in recent years? If so, what are some of your favorite Japanese monster movies since you stopped publishing Japanese Giants?

BB: I have kept up enough to know Angilas or Yog is no longer politically correct terminology. Alas, poor Yog. That was a great one-sheet poster; I had that one-sheet. I skipped the Heisei era at the time but have caught up. Of the newer movies, I loved Shin Godzilla. The best movie for a long time. The Legendary movies are entertaining but lack the Toho charm. The [Heisei] Gamera reboot I enjoyed.

One thought on “MEMOIRS OF A GODZILLA FANDOM PIONEER! Bradford Boyle on Publishing the Seminal Fanzine ‘Japanese Giants’!

  1. Bradford is still in the dog house with me his older brother for getting a 145 IQ score at Bonneville Elementary School in Salt Lake City. That defect notwithstanding, Brad has a terrific sense of humor all the time. I live still in Utah and so his residency in Oregon reduces us to emailing, which tends to be emailing “stuff.” Great interview w/ great pix (the River Li!). He is married to Gia, an equal partner.
    /s/ a fan

    Like

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