"A great introduction to the Godzilla for newbies to the series, an insightful compendium for diehard fans, and a profound look at media, film, and perception for anyone regardless of whether they've seen a Godzilla film. And because it's written by Jim Knipfel, it's funny to boot!"
A Purposeful Grimace:
In Defense of Godzilla
"A Purposeful Grimace goes far beyond either a fan slobber or a dry academic look at camp obscurity. What Knipfel does here is what lit crit should do: study the subject, how it's realized and how it affects the reader (in this case, the viewer), with both careful analysis and a highly readable, personal (and personable) response to the core of what he's writing about and how that core is reflected in actuality...Seriously, you don't have to give a damn about Godzilla to be fascinated and enlivened by Knipfel. That's been the case with just about anything he's written, including his many columns in alternative weeklies and online, but here it shines with a special inner light."
-Derek Davis, author of Gifts from a Dead Man
An odd mix of film history, social commentary and memoir, all centered on the towering figure of the one true King of the Monsters.
After The Buzzing was released and I hit up my editor with a slew of pitches for follow-up books (all of which he batted away like annoying gnats) he came back and suggested that, given the central role Godzilla films had played in The Buzzing, I write a little non-fiction book about the film series. “A very personal take on what Godzilla means to you,” is how he put it.
Sounded good to me, so I took a few months, re-watched all 26 films in the series (which actually came to more than that given the sometimes radically different Japanese and American versions), gathered some notes and stories and did some reading on the subject, then sat down and wrote this little book. That was in 2003, just in time to be released for the 50th anniversary of the dark and brilliant original film in 2004.
Well, as these things so often seem to happen in this business, when I turned the book in six months after he first suggested it, my editor had no idea what I was talking about, and no recollection of ever having asked me to write such a thing.
So the book went into the files again to sit there unloved.
In 2006, I got a call from my good friend (and copyeditor) Don Kennison, who suggested that he and I work together editing a series of small monographs by interesting writers, each on a single film. It was a great idea I thought, and between the two of us we rounded up a swell crew of interested participants. I dug up my Godzilla book and gave it a quick clean up, so my contribution was good to go.
Unfortunately we were unable to get anyone to pick up the series, so the book went back in the files.
I sent a copy of the manuscript to another friend, a painter and film professor named Daniel Riccuito, who started using it in some of his courses, so it seemed there was at least a little interest out there.
Finally in 2013 Electronpress, which had been running my weekly column since the NYPress canned me in 2006, asked if they might publish it as an eBook. It seemed the wave of the future, don’cha know? So there you go.
The soundtrack for this one, not surprisingly yet again was provided by the great Akira Ifukube.