One of the best movies I stumbled across to cover when I was writing Kaiju for Hipsters was War of the Wizards. It’s not a difficult movie to find, by any stretch of the imagination, but generally speaking, you just don’t hear kaiju fans discussing it nowadays. So, sometimes people ask how it even got on my radar, and I have to say: I read about it in an issue of The Japanese Fantasy Film Journal, which was written before I was even born.
It’s amazing that even in this age of Wikipedia and Google, one can still find such fresh insights from a fanzine that ran between 1968 and 1984, yet the archives available still deliver coverage of under-discussed lost-to-time gems, along with numerous hot takes on classics as they were coming out in real time. It’s wild to think about, but the little Ohio-based zine was quite a pioneer, inspiring the likes of G-Fan, Monster Attack Team, Markalite, Oriental Cinema, Japanese Giants, and a whole host of anime mags, not to mention the websites that followed…it even preceded Japanese genre magazines such as Kaiju Club, Uchuusen, and Hobby Japan!
A lot of the tentpole members of English-language Japanese genre fandom started with TJFFJ, either directly or indirectly, reading or writing for writer/editor Greg Shoemaker, so the news of his passing this week is hitting the community pretty hard. So, here’s to a trailblazer, father of organized Japanese fantastic film fandom and publisher of a magazine that set a high standard for all that was to follow.