Staff & Contributors
Or “Who Are These Guys, Anyway?!”
- Keith Aiken (Co-founder, Editor, Producer)
- Bob Johnson (Co-founder, Editor, Producer)
- Robert Saint John (Writer, International Editor)
- Kyle Byrd (Writer, Reviewer)
- Aaron Cooper (Writer, Reviewer)
- John “Dutch” DeSentis (Writer, Reviewer)
- Elliot Gay (Writer, Reviewer, Translator)
- Ed Godziszewski (Writer, Reporter)
- Kim Song-Ho (Writer, Reporter)
- Michael Kure (Writer, Reviewer)
- Oki Miyano (Writer, Reporter, Translator)
- Richard Pusateri (Writer, Reviewer)
- Dan Ross (Site Coordinator, Web Guru)
- Steve Ryfle (Writer, Reporter)
KEITH AIKEN (Co-founder, Editor, Producer)
Keith Aiken is a professional illustrator and storyboard artist in Los Angeles whose credits include comics, books, and video game artwork featuring such characters as Superman, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Green Lantern, Ghost Rider, and Silver Surfer. His first professional assignment on the King of the Monsters was on Dark Horse Comics’ GODZILLA titles (1993-95), followed by Sony Pictures Family Entertainment’s animated television program GODZILLA: THE SERIES (1998-99).
Keith has written for the magazines Japanese Giants and Kaiju Review, and is a frequent contributor for the website Monster Zero News, the primary news source for the official Godzilla US website Godzilla.com. From 2002-05 he was a writer and associate editor for Henshin! Online.
In June 2004, he worked with the prestigious American Cinematheque in Hollywood on their “Godzilla 50th Anniversary Tribute”. The first Toho-authorized Godzilla film festival ever in the US, the Tribute featured more than a dozen films, the US premiere of GODZILLA: TOKYO SOS, and special appearances by filmmakers from Japan and America. Bay Area Film Events’ week-long Godzillafest, the biggest event of its kind to date, followed in November. That same year, Rialto Pictures asked Keith to aid in publicity for their 50th anniversary US theatrical release of the original, uncut GODZILLA, and he has been interviewed about the film by the New York Times, National Public Radio, Reuters, Santa Fe New Mexican, the Jewish Journal, the Miami Herald, and Starlog. He also assisted Toho with promotions for the world premiere of GODZILLA: FINAL WARS in Hollywood that included ticket giveaways from Henshin! Online and Godzillafest plus inviting Godzilla suit actor Tsutomu Kitagawa to spend Thanksgiving with his family (a dinner covered by E! Online and Yahoo News). 2005 brought two more Cinematheque shows, “The Japanese Giant Monsters Festival” and “King Kong Session”, followed by a third kaiju festival in June, 2006 and the Hollywood premiere of the Korean monster movie DRAGON WARS in 2007.
In October 2005, Keith worked with Steve Ryfle (author of Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star) and Ed Godziszewski of Japanese Giants on the audio commentary for the British Film Institute’s DVD of GODZILLA. Following the launch of SciFi Japan with co-editor Bob Johnson, Keith was hired by Classic Media to work on their DVDs of seven classic Godzilla movies. He has also contributed to the DVD releases of WAR IN SPACE and SAYONARA JUPITER from Discotek Media; FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS and GODZILLA VS MEGALON from Media Blasters; the Blu-rays/DVDs of GAMERA 3: REVENGE OF IRIS, the GAMERA: ULTIMATE COLLECTIONs, the DAIMAJIN trilogy and GODZILLA: THE SERIES from Mill Creek; and given assists to the GODZILLA DVD and Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection and GODZILLA VS BIOLLANTE from Echo Bridge.
In 2009, Keith was interviewed for a Japanese television special about GODZILLA director Ishiro Honda. The show aired in June, 2009 as an episode of the TV Tokyo series JAPAN ALL STARS (Sekai wo Kaeru 100 Nin no Nihonjin).
Photo: Keith at Marc Graue Studios in Burbank, recording the audio commentary for BFI’s GODZILLA DVD.
BOB JOHNSON (Co-founder, Editor, Producer)
Bob Johnson spent his early years on the suburban plains of the San Mateo Peninsula in California. There he grew up watching a variety of science fiction, horror and monster movies from a young age. Always fascinated with Japanese monster films, he went down a path of promotions that would eventually lead to this site.
Over the years, Bob has participated in panels and live discussions about the genre at events such as Wondercon, Fanimecon and Thrillville, on the radio at KFJC, on local television at KRON Channel 4, and as a guest lecturer for the Kaiju Cinema course at UC Berkeley. He co-produced the Japanese Fantasy Film Fairs in the late 70s and went on to co-create/co-edit Markalite Magazine in 1989/90. Bob would continue to write about Japanese films and had articles published in V-Max, Newtype Magazine (Japanese version), Oriental Cinema, Kaiju Review, Japanese Giants and others. An overview of the various Ultraman series he co-wrote for Markalite was also used extensively by Tsuburaya Productions’ US office for marketing materials. As the Internet became more and more widespread, Markalite metamorphosed into Henshin! Online, first as a part of Monster Zero News and then as its own website.
Bob currently runs Bay Area Film Events, a group that produces movie screenings and film festivals. Among these were Godzillafest (a 20-film/7-day festival with such guests as Hiroshi Koizumi, Akira Kubo, Jerry Ito, Russ Tamblyn, and Tsutomu Kitagawa) and Ultramania, which featured the premiere of ULTRAMAN THE NEXT with Ultra designer Hiroshi Maruyama and monster maker Shinichi Wakasa, as well as a live stage show with Ultraman battling a monstrous foe. BAFE has also run film festivals devoted to the Beatles, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and James Bond… and more shows are coming!
Now Bob turns his attention to SciFi Japan, hoping to make it the best site of its kind on the web!! He also contributed the audio commentary for Classic Media’s TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA DVD, which went on sale in late 2007.
Photo: Bob at Toho Studios, holding the original Oxygen Destroyer prop from GODZILLA.
ROBERT SAINT JOHN (Writer, International Editor)
Robert Saint John grew up in Ohio on a steady diet of Mothra, Isaac Asimov, Star Blazers, Cyberpunk and Gerry Anderson. As a founder of one of the earliest Doctor Who fan clubs in North America, he published the zine Zeta Minor and co-organized some of the first PanoptiCon conventions in the USA. Following a brief stint in art school, he traveled the world and ended up in the San Francisco Bay Area working in the interactive television industry. During this time he was a contributor at the Monster Zero site and an active member of the Bay Area Film Events group. Professionally, he has written articles on computer graphics and convergence technologies for Scientific American, 3D Graphics and a number of other tech industry publications, and participated in a technology lecture tour throughout Japan on behalf of the U.S. State Department.
Robert recently relocated back to Ohio and now lives and works in Cleveland, dividing his time between his work in the software industry, herding cats and chihuahuas, SFJ, and tabletop roleplaying games. Over the past few years he has documented the history of early science-fiction RPGs, translated vintage Japanese tabletop games such as “Star Trek – Enterprise” (1983, Tsukuda Hobby) and “Mothra vs. Godzilla” (1982, Bandai), and been a regular contributor to James Maliszewski’s popular sci-fi RPG line, “Thousand Suns”. He is currently completing research for a book detailing the complete history of a popular Japanese sci-fi multimedia franchise.
KYLE BYRD (Writer, Reviewer)
Kyle Byrd is a cinephile and aspiring film journalist born and raised in the Metro Detroit area. Kyle has been a kaiju fan as far back as he can remember. As a kid being obsessed with dinosaurs, it all started at age 5 when his mother bought him the Imperial figures of King Kong and Godzilla. At age 7, he rented tapes of GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA and GODZILLA VS. GIGAN. He grew up on a constant look out to obtain any VHS tapes he could get his hands on by whatever means necessary. This would lead to a lifelong obsession with all things monsters, science fiction, and horror.
Since then, he’s built up a massive collection of VHS tapes and DVDs of all genres and his passion for the art of film is constantly growing. In addition to films, he’s also an admirer of music of all genres, especially heavy metal.
Kyle is currently attending Eastern Michigan University for a major in Electronic Media and Film Studies and a minor in journalism.
AARON COOPER (Writer, Reporter)
Aaron Coop, or Coop (as he’s called by everyone here), has been enthralled with the images of giant rubber monsters since he was a wee lad, and the obsession has only grown from there. Though he has to maintain a day job, Aaron will discuss, promote, and review as much as humanly possible for SciFi Japan. His interests are not limited to the realm of Japanese science fiction even though it is his very favorite genre: if it’s animated, stop-motioned, Supermarionated, Whedonesque, spaghetti westerny, or comic bookish, he probably has more than a passing interest in it.
Coop has been a content contributor to Henshin! Online and the Thrillville Review, plus he is still a regular site contributor over at WellRed Press. He is a founding member of Bay Area Film Events which has produced several successful shows in Northern California, and is extremely excited to be on the launching pad for SciFi Japan with these other fine gentlemen.
Marriage and fatherhood have been kind to Aaron, and he recently made a big move to Memphis, Tennessee where he has seen Elvis alive and well and working at a 7-11 on Union Avenue.
Photo: Aaron Cooper with the GODZILLA: FINAL WARS float from the 2004 Hollywood Christmas Parade.
JOHN DESENTIS (Writer, Reviewer)
John “Dutch” DeSentis has been enjoying the world of Japanese monster movies since the age of four. It was at that time that he, already being a dinosaur nut, found the coolest dinosaur around in the movie GODZILLA VS MEGALON. Thanks to VHS tape and loads of sugar aided hysteria, his affinity for Godzilla never waned and continues to influence his life today.
Undoubtedly, the biggest influence that the series has left on him is a musical one. Akira Ifukube and Masaru Sato continue to fuel his thriving love of musical composition and one can often hear strains of Ifukube influence in his work. Dutch also draws influence from modern Japanese composer Ko Otani and also has his western mainstays such as John Williams, Danny Elfman, John Ottman, and James Newton Howard. Today, Dutch plays a variety of instruments including bass-his primary weapon of choice-, guitar, and piano. He has worked on independent films and credits Ifukube as being his most deliberate and direct influence. He also plays rock music and even in that respect the music of Godzilla has given him much inspiration. Dutch’s love of Ifukube’s music led to a collaboration in 2007 with The Austin Wind Symphony in Texas for their October “Creature Features” concert. For this, he transcribed by ear several cues from KING KONG VS. GODZILLA and weaved them into a medley for what is the first ever performance of the music from the 1962 movie in North America. He is also working on a transcription of the original 1954 movie score.
Together with his fellow Goons who gave him his nickname based on a former haircut of his, Dutch frequents many east coast conventions and activities. He loves good beer, Les Paul guitars, the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Flyers and Phillies, New York Giants, A.S. Roma, sushi, snowboarding, and playing his Sadowsky NYC bass. He currently resides on Long Island, NY.
Photo: Dutch and Greg Cordaro enjoying a game at Yankee Stadium.
ELLIOT GAY (Writer, Reviewer, Translator)
After being force fed Godzilla movies as a child by his mother, Elliot Gay grew up to (unsurprisingly) have a deep interest in Japanese film and television. He acted as a writer for the now defunct Gojistomp website in 2004-2006, and came up with the idea to start covering not only Godzilla films, but Asian films in general. After the closing of Gojistomp, he then moved on to work with James Ballard as a contributor for Jim’s Tokyo Monsters website for a year. Following its closing, Elliot was alone in a cruel digital world, with no website to call home. It was around this time that Elliot was summoned to Scifi Japan, and the rest is history.
With Japanese animation growing more prominent in international cinema and television, Elliot hopes to bring some recognition to the truly stand-out offerings that may otherwise be missed by the casual viewer.
Elliot currently lives in Japan as an English teacher to small kids in Nagasaki Prefecture. Time will only tell if this is a good thing or a bad thing for them, but in the meantime he intends to write about film as much as he can. Where ever there’s a story, you bet he’ll be there. Except if it means getting deported. He wouldn’t want to see the little children in tears.
ED GODZISZEWSKI (Writer, Reporter)
Ed Godziszewski has served as the editor and publisher of Japanese Giants magazine since 1977, and is the author of the acclaimed 1995 book The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Godzilla.
As a writer and researcher on Japanese special effects films, Ed has contributed to numerous publications including Japanese Fantasy Film Journal, Retrovision, and G-Fan. In 1979, he authored the cover story (an overview of the Godzilla series) for the inaugural issue of Fangoria, and was one of the first American fans invited to tour both Toho Studios and Tsuburaya Productions in Japan. In the years since then, Ed has visited Japan numerous times and has met and interviewed many tokusatsu filmmakers. A Japanese documentary crew from NHK returned the favor by interviewing Ed in his home for a 1998 television special about Godzilla.
In 2004, Ed supplied materials and acted as a presenter at screenings of Japanese SF films for the American Cinematheque’s “Godzilla 50th Anniversary Tribute” in Hollywood. In 2005 he provided the DVD commentary and two short documentaries for the British Film Institute release of GODZILLA (1954), and in 2006 he worked on Classic Media’s Godzilla DVD collection. Ed also co-wrote and produced BRINGING GODZILLA DOWN TO SIZE: The Art of Japanese Special Effects, an original documentary about the creation and evolution of the Japanese FX film. BRINGING GODZILLA DOWN TO SIZE premiered at the American Cinematheque and was released on DVD by Classic Media in 2008.
In 2009, Ed co-produced the extra features for Sony’s ICONS OF SCI-FI: TOHO COLLECTION, a DVD set featuring the Ishiro Honda/Eiji Tsuburaya classics MOTHRA, THE H-MAN, and BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE. In 2012, he provided the audio commentary for the DVD and Blu-ray release of GODZILLA VS BIOLLANTE from Echo Bridge.
Issues of Japanese Giants can be purchased directly from Ed at the Japanese Giants website.
KIM SONG-HO (Writer, Reporter)
Kim Song-Ho (a.k.a. “Loomis”) is a freelance writer specialized in genre films and DVD reviews. He always liked watching films, but especially loved sci-fi or fantasy films. Watching such genre films like JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, PLANET OF THE APES and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK on TV when he was a child are memories Kim is always fond of. The love of giant monster films sparked full throttle when he saw GAMERA 3: REVENGE OF IRIS back in 2000. Since then, he began watching giant monster films seriously and collecting toys or memorabilia. His favorite giant monster films are the original GODZILLA, GMK, the Heisei GAMERA trilogy, YONGARY, MONSTER FROM THE DEEP and PULGASARI. From 2000 to 2002, he contributed Korean/Japanese monster film news to Monster Zero.
Kim began writing professionally in 2003 and contributed DVD reviews for several DVD and film magazines in Korea. Among them are DVD 21 (later renamed TheDVD), DVD 2.0, Movie Express and Cine 21, the most well-known weekly film magazine of Korea. From 2004 to 2006, he managed a weekly DVD column, which introduced DVD special features, for Cine 21. Kim has also written for DVD Prime, DVD Topic (now defunct) and KBench, all of which are DVD/IT-related websites of Korea.
He also contributed the audio commentary for the Korean edition of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: MILLENNIUM EDITION DVD, along with two other Korean critics.
While managing DVD columns for Cine 21, Kim wrote special articles for the magazine on Godzilla and King Kong in conjunction with the release of GODZILLA: FINAL WARS and Peter Jackson’s remake of KING KONG, respectively. In 2006, the year when THE HOST was released in Korea, he wrote an article on movie monsters for the Korean edition of Arena magazine. In the summer of 2007, when D-WAR (DRAGON WARS in the U.S) was a big hit in its native country, he commented on Korean giant monster films for an evening show broadcasted on MBC (Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation), one of the major networks of Korea.
As a graduate of the Seoul Institute of the Arts filmmaking department, Kim wrote, edited and directed a short film called RETURN in 2001. It was picked up by Indiestory, a Korean independent film distributor and then was broadcast as an episode of an independent film program on KBS (Korean Broadcasting System), the public network of Korea. It was also shown several other cable and DMB channels.
For years he was staff member of Extreme Movie, a blog specialized in genre cultures, and writes DVD reviews for KBench. Kim also founded a giant monster-themed website called ‘Goesu Boho Guyeok’(Monster Preservation Site) in 2003. It has now become a community belonging to Extreme Movie.
MICHAEL KURE (Writer, Reviewer)
Michael Kure actually saw first-run episodes of ULTRAMAN and MAGUMA TAISHI as a wee lad while vacationing in Tokyo during the summer of 1966. He has been hooked ever since. A dozen-plus years later, Michael discovers like-minded fans in the form of Bob Johnson and August Ragone. This friendship led to Michael contributing articles, anime reviews and art to Bob and Augie’s much-missed Markalite magazine.
In addition, Michael, a long-time collector of old comic books, has contributed to Overstreet’s Fan Magazine and illustrated for The Comics Journal back in the day. More recently, Michael has provided editorial support to Bob Johnson and BAFE.
Now a responsible adult, Michael scours eBay for Ultraman and Totoro toys for his little daughter, and spends way too much of his waking hours working as a writer and editor for some big-name Silicon Valley company.
OKI MIYANO (Writer, Reporter, Translator)
Oki Miyano hails from Fuji City, Japan. Not long after his birth, the city was attacked by the smog monster Hedorah. Thousands were killed, but Oki and his family managed to escape unscathed.
After graduating with a BA in Cinema from Nihon University, Oki took a job with Hiruma Model Craft, the top provider of miniatures for Toho, Tsuburaya Pro, Daiei, Toei and several other studios. He decided to become a professional model maker for film and television so he apprenticed under Shinji Hiruma, the acclaimed maker of miniature models for films such as RODAN.
Oki moved to the US in 2000, and the following year was the curator for a festival of post-war Japanese film at the Japan America Theatre in the Little Tokyo section of Los Angeles. This festival included a screening of Toho’s subtitled print of the original GODZILLA. In 2004, Oki was an organizer, interviewer, and translator for the American Cinematheque’s “Godzilla 50th Anniversary Tribute”. He was instrumental in bringing over two special guests for the event, the legendary Yasuyuki Inoue (production designer on most of Toho’s fx films from GODZILLA to GODZILLA 1985) and Akinori Takagi (mechanical effects creator from KING KONG VS GODZILLA to the Heisei Godzilla series).
In 2005, Oki teamed with Ed Godziszewski for a presentation of Mr Inoue’s work at G-Fest. Later that year, he helped to set up a permanent exhibit of the designer’s production art at the Setagaya Literary Museum. Visitors to the museum can now see Inoue’s work for films like DESTROY ALL MONSTERS and GODZILLA VS HEDORAH alongside Toho’s exhibit of Godzilla suits. Since 2006 he has provided invaluable assistance as a translator and researcher for Classic Media’s Godzilla DVD collection and documentary BRINGING GODZILLA DOWN TO SIZE.
In recent years, Oki has worked in film preservation at UCLA. In 2008, he was part of the team working on the restoration of Akira Kurosawa’s Oscar-winner RASHOMON for Kadokawa Pictures and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
In addition to his work on SciFi Japan, Oki has been a writer and translator for Japanese Giants and Henshin! Online.
Photo: Oki working at Hiruma Model Craft.
RICHARD PUSATERI (Writer, Reviewer)
Richard Pusateri received a BA in journalism from California State University, Northridge. He has written for the Hearst community newspapers, Music Connection, Cult Movies, G-Fan, Japanese Giants and Henshin! Online, and also provided the audio commentary for Classic Media’s GODZILLA’S REVENGE DVD.
Richard is a certified Japanophile who has enjoyed kaburazushi at the Omicho Market in Kanazawa and visited a certain large movie studio in Setagawa (The large movie studio has requested anonymity).
He changed the world on May 18, 1998, when he coined the acronym GINO for “Godzilla In Name Only” to describe the monster in the TriStar GODZILLA movie.
Photo: Richard at the Godzilla statue in Hibiya, Tokyo.
DAN ROSS (Site Coordinator, Web Guru)
Dan Ross is a full time animator and part time illustrator in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to overseeing the SciFi Japan site, he also administrates the site for Bay Area Film Events and is an active member of the BAFE team.
Dan ran across Godzilla, Harryhausen’s stop-motion creations and shows like THE TWILIGHT ZONE and NIGHT GALLERY at an early age. After being instilled with a love of the outré and fantastic, he accentuated it by bouts of reading Lovecraft and studying and creating animation in all its forms. He has a BFA in Photo/Video from the Kansas City Art Institute, minoring in Japanese studies (history, language and literature).
He does not like mushrooms and will explain to you why MATANGO is more truth than fiction. But do you really want to hear him explain that?
STEVE RYFLE (Writer, Reporter)
Steve Ryfle is the author of the book Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star (ECW Press, 1999), widely considered among the best English-language references on Godzilla. As a film journalist, Steve has written for the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Virginia Quarterly Review, Japanese Giants, Cinescape, Fangoria, Retrovision, Shock Cinema, blaxpoitation.com, Henshin! Online, Stomp Tokyo, E! Online, and Ifilm.com. He has been a contributing editor and columnist for Creative Screenwriting.
Steve has been a guest speaker and presenter at Comic-Con, Anime Expo, G-Fest, and other venues and events, and he has been a guest on TV and radio programs including NPR’s FRESH AIR and OFF-RAMP, INSIDE EDITION, and Animal Planet’s ANIMAL ICONS. In 2004, he was an organizer and interviewer for the American Cinematheque’s “Godzilla 50th Anniversary Tribute” in Hollywood, and Rialto Pictures used much of his material on the original GODZILLA in their press kit for the 50th anniversary US theatrical release of the film. The following year, the British Film Institute also turned to Steve for their publicity materials on the UK release of GODZILLA. Steve collaborated with Ed Godziszewski and Keith Aiken on the audio commentary for the BFI’s GODZILLA DVD, and contributed audio commentaries and other supplemental material to Classic Media’s Godzilla DVD collection.
For Classic Media, Steve also co-wrote and produced the documentary BRINGING GODZILLA DOWN TO SIZE (2008), which was shot in Japan and features exclusive interviews with filmmakers, special-effects artists, actors and monster stuntmen.
In 2009, Steve co-produced the extra features for Sony’s ICONS OF SCI-FI: TOHO COLLECTION, a DVD set featuring the Ishiro Honda/Eiji Tsuburaya classics MOTHRA, THE H-MAN, and BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE.
Photo: Steve Ryfle, with director Shusuke Kaneko perusing the adult section of Kim’s Video in New York City.