Hey everyone! I recently interviewed Storyboard Artist Richard Bennett and Clover Publisher Hank Kanalz about the Godzilla & Kong Storyboard Artbook! Also included are two exclusive pages from the book!
The Kickstarter to fund the book’s release, while meeting its goal, still has one more tier to unlock before the project is complete! You can check out the Kickstarter page here!
Chris Mirjahangir: This release is rather unconventional for the Godzilla and King Kong franchises. Why go the Kickstarter route over a traditional release?
Hank Kanalz: We’ve been working on this book with Richard for some time, and it became evident that this unconventional book deserved an unconventional release. The publishing landscape has changed in the last few years, but the “traditional” timeline is still a very long one. By going the Kickstarter route, we can connect directly with Godzilla and Kong fans who, like us, don’t want to wait any longer than they have to. With the global supply chain challenges we are all facing, this turned out to be a great choice.
CM: How did this book come about? What was it like working with both Legendary and Toho on the book?
HK: Richard had wanted to do a book like this for a while and had actually cleared much of the initial permissions needed for a project of this scope. He’s a fellow WildStorm alumnus (along with me, Ted Adams, and Robbie Robbins) and pitched the project to us when we first opened our doors.
Legendary and Toho have been amazing partners on this book. This is a different kind of book than the ones they license or publish themselves, but that doesn’t diminish their enthusiasm for the project, as it’s all GODZILLA and KONG.
Richard Bennett: I’ve been working on the idea of putting together a book compiling some of my work for a while. In 2019 I was talking with my friend and colleague Dwayne Turner, and he mentioned Clover Press as he had his own project already on the works with them. We knew each other from Wildstorm (back in the 90’s) but I wasn’t up to date with what they were doing at the time. So I got in touch immediately with Ted and Robbie, pitched the idea, and they loved it.
At that time I had the permission from one major studio to use the boards I did for several films that the studio had produced. We felt we needed to renew this authorization, since it was granted a few years prior getting in contact with Clover Press. So Robbie, Hank and I met, and they suggested the idea to try and publish a whole new volume centering on the three Kaiju films I worked on at Legendary. I was totally into that!
So I got in communication with one of the studio’s producers. She was amazing and helped us a lot getting through some of the right channels that could lead us into getting the green light to use the material. At that point Hank Kanalz from Clover Press took over the negotiations, and he worked back and forth, in constant talks with both Legendary and Toho. He was crucial for this to happen.
It was a process, but finally here we are. The way in which the whole campaign is happening completely exceeded all my expectations so I’m really excited about the upcoming book.
CM: How did you come to work on the MonsterVerse films?
RB: On Kong: Skull Island I got a call from Stefan Dechant who was the Production Designer. I worked with him on a couple of projects before, so when he was about to start on Skull Island he asked me if I was interested. When we talked about the subject, it became apparent that it was sort of a mix of Kong and Apocalypse Now and I was sold, instantly!
The whole experience was amazing, and to be able to place Kong in this context (the Vietnam era) offered a lot of really cool possibilities on how the action could develop and how everything could look. It was an awesome ride, and I got the chance to interact with amazing artists and learn from their work.
On Godzilla: King of Monsters I got called by Scott Chambliss, also the film’s Production Designer. He put me in contact with the director Michael Dougherty. We knew each other with Scott from a couple of previous projects, Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland and the first JJ Abrams’ Star Trek.
Godzilla vs Kong was a combination of things. Director Adam Wingard knew about my work through the work I did on Dunkirk for Nolan. Chris published the script in a book along with some selected storyboards, so Adam had that material. But also, Production Designer Owen Patterson called me for the project.
I have to mention that on the three movies Producer Jen Conroy has always kept my work in mind, always calling to find out if I could work on these projects. The work flow went fantastic on G vs K; I worked about 9 or 10 months on the project, and later during post, Adam called me to board re-shoots that were needed.
CM: What is your history with the Godzilla/King Kong franchises? Were you a fan growing up?
RB: Not initially from Godzilla. When I grew up I loved the Japanese series Ultraseven created by Eiji Tsuburaya, which is part of the Ultraman lineage. I’m not sure that character qualifies as a part of the Kaiju universe, but it was my first encounter with giant creatures wreaking havoc. So, I became a Godzilla fan after the first one from Legendary that Gareth Edwards directed.
With Kong if it was a different story. I loved some of the previous films done, including the 1933 one directed by Merian Cooper. It’s already a great film just the way it is. Not to mention when it was made…I think it’s a masterpiece. Also, I remember being impressed by the 1976 movie by John Guillermin. Particularly the scene in which he parts the giant python in half, and when Kong gets killed not by airplanes but Hueys instead. Maybe I was too young, but those helicopters felt like giant bugs and seemed more lethal than any fighter jet. The Python killing beat was the inspiration for when I boarded the Skullcrawler getting his guts out by Kong! Jordan wanted it to be nasty and fast. So I sat down to draw and that beat from 1976 appeared in my mind right away.
Peter Jackson’s is one of the best action films I’ve ever seen. I love the intro/montage scene and how he sets the mood with the music. It totally has the vibe from the 1930’s one although obviously looking very much like a XXI century movie. So many amazing moments, but the T-Rex/precipice fight is absolutely insane. The sunrise light over the Manhattan skyline during the end sequence is sublime.
CM: How was it decided exactly which deleted scenes were included in the book and which were not?
RB: We are including pretty much every one of the scenes which I worked on and were not used, or which changed to what ultimately was experienced on the big screen. We are showcasing them in the book right next to the one that made it, so readers can have a closer look on how they evolved.
CM: How long was the process of making this book and what input did Legendary/Toho provide along the way?
HK: Literally years in the making, as this collects the storyboards created over the last ten years. Legendary and Toho both have been very open to what Richard wanted to present, with a nudge here and a suggestion there. But this book is really to Richard’s vision and Robbie Robbin’s design. Richard and Robbie work very well together.
CM: What was each experience like with each director on each film?
RB: What I’ve noticed in these almost 20 years of drawing storyboards is that all directors worked differently. The experience of working with these three directors was unique and great in each of the three films. I just feel grateful that the three of them gave me the opportunity to contribute my work to their films.
CM: Could this book see a general release to bookstores in the future?
HK: Let’s see how this campaign concludes – anything is possible!
Richard J. Bennett is one of the most respected storyboard artists working today, having worked with top directors like David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Brad Bird, and J.J. Abrams, among others. This new book showcases his storyboard storytelling with two of the biggest stars in the history of cinema.