Der Krapp

by Brad Linaweaver

Big Lizards IV-1 ~ Installment 11-1

“Godzilla is a lot like Harlan Ellison you either love or hate him. Of course, he’s much taller.”

This comment was made by my guide on the special tour to Monster Island, where reside the aberrant creations of Toho Studios. Some would say that a full month of conventions (August 1980) had driven me over the edge and I had lost contact with reality. I laugh at such an assertion. Can you hear my manic tones?

My grip on reality was secure during the Atlanta Comics and Fantasy Fair. I contemplated such perfectly reasonable subject mater as the Cthulhu Mythos and asked Robert Bloch a series of questions I had been saving up about HP Lovecraft. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. Of course there was the tentacle I saw for just a second…but who can trust peripheral vision?

During our very own ASFiCon (wow, what a club meeting!) I could distinguish fantasy from the true. Only once did I begin to see strange vistas swirling before my suddenly occluded gaze... leering faces of hunger and need faintly perceived through a gray mist. That was during the art auction. Mike Weber leaped over the table, confronted the audience…and unknowingly brought me back to reality in time for my turn at the huckster bat.

During the Jerry Page roast, something peculiar happened. I first met the strange Japanese fellow who talked out of synch (exactly like the Japanese scientist in Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes, 1978). He asked if I’d like to see some pictures of Rodan the flying monster, taken by a disreputable Mexican photographer. I told him no; he shrugged and in a listless tone announced that Page’s pie in the face was amusing, but nothing compared with what he had proposed to the concom. Unfortunately Mothra wasn’t available in its caterpillar form, and couldn’t attend at any rate. As a caterpillar, Mothra can spew out sticky, white substance that would have completely enveloped Jerry Page -- as a jest.

One disturbing development had to do with Dann Littlejohn’s videotape. I could have sworn I was talking to the agent from Monster Island in front of the video camera, but when I viewed the tape, he wasn’t there!

By the time Bill Ritch and I had braved the horrors of the Northern toll roads (the worse the roads, the higher the tolls) and were safety ensconced at the Sheraton Hilton at the Prudential Center for the 38th Worldcon. I had blissfully forgotten the mystery man. The only Oriental visage in which I was interested belonged to Somtow Sucharikul. Everything was sane in Boston; that is, ignoring the political climate (and the fact that you can’t get a milkshake if you order a milkshake: you have to ask for a frappe).

Film- and television-related commentaries came from the likes of such stellar contributors to the visual media as Harlan Ellison, Charles Schneer, Gary Kurts, Terrance Dicks, and Mike Jittlov. Their work leads to a universe far removed from Toho’s vision. And yet-…scheduled toward the end of the con’s film program was Destroy All Monsters (1968), a full supping on those fakey rubberoids who inhabit Monster Island. Fortunately the mystery man did not show up an either of the film rooms.

No, he reappeared the night of the dead dog parties, Invasion Of The Mundanes (20,023) was already under way with a large if undistinguished cast. Security guards were roaming the halls. Some were advance scouts for a John Birch Society meeting. You can imagine their reaction to fandom. Even prostitutes were starting to reclaim the hotel for business as usual, as those crazy and cheap fans made ready to leave.

“Dull part of the con?” he asked me.

“I like the dead dog parties,” I answered.

He smiled. “Security is closing them down. Too noisy. I know something better.”

I had come to view this character much as the Orson Welles character feared the recurring supernatural traveler in Lucille Fletcher’s ”The Hitchhiker.” Whatever his purpose, he was about to make it clear.

“You author of Der Krapp, aren’t you?” I nodded. “You planning to do a hatchet job on Godzilla and his friends. Come with me to Monster Island for their convention. You’ll learn a thing or two.” He grinned evilly. “ Nobody makes them keep the noise down.”

I mentioned that I was impressed by his mastery of the English language. He didn’t have the least bit of accent. “I’m being dubbed,” he said.

And so I found myself on a helicopter with the guide and none other than Forrest J. Ackerman (who had been tricked into coming along when he was told the con was for Rho-fans -- he was thinking Perry; the guide was thinking Pterodactyl). The guide made silly comparisons throughout the trip (e.g., the Ellison comment). Ackerman responded with his typically awful puns.

We spotted the island at daybreak (our time), an outcroppings of volcanic rock. The reception committee was waiting for us: three toothy faces, all belonging to Ghidrah. He was wearing a button (a big one) that said he was stronger than Godzilla. I always wondered about that. Ghidrah snorted a few times and then flew floppingly away. We waited on the beach.

“Here he comes,” said the guide as we spotted smoke rings rising over some plastic trees. I’d like to tell you there was some suspense, but naahhh. Emerging from behind a papier-mâché boulder, waddling in our direction came Son of Godzilla. His whitish hide and cartoonish expression -- complete with quizzical eyebrows -- made him look most unmonstrous. Utilizing his most ludicrous power, he shrunk down to our size.

Next Episode: Will Brad survive Monster Island? Will he laugh himself silly? Will he be saved by Ultra-Man? Click Next Krapp below and find out!