Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Japanese monster RODAN made me an artist!

I was writing a bio and artist statement for an upcoming solo art show I have in San Francisco this April (more on that in an upcoming post). In writing about my art and influences, I recounted the story about how in elementary school I had a particular moment when I decided I was 'an artist'!

Over the weekend, I had watched 'RODAN', the 1956 Japanese monster movie with the giant, flying pterodon-type monster. Back then, in the fabled 1970s, we had a nice, simple 7 television stations to choose from, unless of course you counted the various channels available on the ultra-cool UHF dial
(look that one up, you young whippersnappers!). Godzilla movies were regular staples back then, but for some reason the Rodan movie really made enough of an impression on me that when I went back to school during the week, and we had our regular art period, I drew Rodan.

I remember the other kids in the class gathering by my table, one by one, just admiring the fact that I drew it. No way to know why that image caught their eyes, or if indeed it was the first time anyone in our group had drawn something so 'cool'. All I know is that I remember thinking how awesome it felt to draw something that elicited such genuine approval from people! The young boy had discovered his ego....and thus was born a new artist!

Back to the present: So after I wrote and sent off my bio and artist statement, I remembered I had a DVD double feature, and one of the movies on there was RODAN! It's funny, but I originally bought that DVD because I wanted to see THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS, another childhood favorite. But I had never actually watched the Rodan movie on the DVD.

The other night I popped in the DVD and watched, for the first time in about 35 years, RODAN! I am amazed at how well that film was made, the inventiveness on display regarding the model work and special effects, and the often imaginative editing. Turns out there were two Rodans in the movie, fancy that! Granted, I'm an adult watching a monster movie made back in the 50s, but I still enjoy watching entertaining flicks made in the past without comparing them with how films are made now.

This morning I woke up thinking that I had to try my hand at drawing ol' Rodan once again, decades after I had last drawn him/her/it. The first sketch here is drawn from looking at pic on the web.

I was looking for another image to draw when I realized that as a child, I drew him entirely from memory! No Google, no internet, no photo reference! So I shut my browser and just drew Rodan from scratch. While there is no way to remember what my original drawing looked like, I'm pretty sure I drew him flying, so that's one thing the drawings would have in common.

I'm sure that I was drawing before I created the Rodan artwork in my class. My older brother Albert, besides giving me his collection of comics in the early 70s, also influenced me to start drawing because he used to draw these really cool stylized baseball and football cartoon characters. But there was something special that day in the 2nd grade (or maybe 3rd grade?) when I realized that drawing, besides being very fun for me to do on my own, was allowing me to leave an impression on people, and get some nice accolades in the process!

How's that for an artist statement?!

(You too can be inspired by giant monsters! Buy this movie and get a pencil and sheet of paper and you'll be on your way to fame and enlightenment...)


David Robertson said...

I too love those movies, especially Godzilla.

Did you know Frank Zappa's son Ahmet Rodan Zappa is named after the subject of your post?

PS. Check them out here:

Javier Hernandez said...

Thanks for the info David. Did not know that Rodan inspired Frank Zappa to name his kid!

Btw, I checked out your blog and I have to say that the name of your comic, BERSERKOTRON, is brilliant!