Book: Drawing Godzilla


Drawing Godzilla

English Book Title

Drawing Godzilla


Greg Roza


Windmill Books


Back Cover



By: Nicholas Driscoll

Growing up, I was one of those kids who loved drawing and loved dinosaurs and monsters, and especially loved drawing dinosaurs and dinosaur-like monsters. I searched the local libraries for books on monsters, dinosaurs, and how to draw them, and frequently checked out Ian Thorne's delightful Godzilla book as fuel for my many, many Godzilla comics and doodles. Thus I would have been very excited if, when I was still a youngster, I had found a book on drawing Godzilla—and been then very disappointed if that book had turned out to be Greg Roza's very real and very mediocre Drawing Godzilla from 2011.

Drawing Godzilla is part of a series of art books for young kids 8-11 from publisher Windmill Books, and other books in the series include Drawing Dracula, Drawing Frankenstein, and Drawing King Kong, all by Greg Roza. So far as I can tell, Greg Roza is not and never was a professional artist. According to the biographical matter I could find online, he is an author of children's educational books. His lack of expertise in art really shines through in the depictions of Godzilla found in Drawing Godzilla, which definitely look as if they were rendered by an amateur—that amateurishness is pretty obvious even from the drawing on the cover, which, from the shading (?), looks as if Godzilla has been slurping down chocolate milk and spilled some down his chest. The actual line quality of the picture, too, is shaky and uneven, and that is carried over into the eight Godzilla doodles inside.

Those eight Godzilla sketches are each based off of a publicity still from the Godzilla film library, including two drawings ostensibly being of the 1998 Godzilla—although in one of the two GINO pics, the monster looks more like Roza forgot which irradiated monster he was drawing halfway through and just kind of did a weird snarling version of the Japanese Godzilla waddling at the camera. Each of the drawings includes a series of obnoxious steps for how to draw the beasts along the lines of classic drawing instruction books—start with lots of seemingly randomly spaced ovals and circles and shapes, then piece together the monster from the sections. Honestly, the idea of the book is kind of cool; imagine learning how to draw some of the many different versions of Godzilla over the years (or even better, some of Godzilla's enemies as well). In this book, the pictures Roza uses to base his sketches on are from the original Godzilla (1954), King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966), and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), as well as the previously mentioned American film GODZILLA (1998). Unfortunately, Roza appears to make little or no effort to actually capture the individual designs of the G-suits he draws. Take a gander at the Godzilla drawing on the cover. You might think that it's the 54 suit, given that the picture on the cover is a classic publicity still from that film. But no. No, that's the 2004 Godzilla suit. Can't you tell? Even one of the Roza's two drawings of GINO actually looks like it could almost pass as the Rhedosaurus from the 1953 The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, which seems appropriate given the popular fan refrain that GODZILLA (1998) would have worked better as a remake of that proto-kaiju film.

Drawing Godzilla
Greg Roza's valiant attempt at drawing GINO dashing toward the camera.

Artwork aside, Drawing Godzilla also includes a bit of information and trivia about Godzilla with each sketch, such as the origin of the name "Gojira" (gorilla whale, with no mention of the supposed Toho employee), that "daikaiju eiga" is pronounced "dy-KEE-joo EGG-uh" (yikes), and that the American version of the 54 film included a Canadian actor (is it important to know Raymond Burr's nationality?). Strangely, though, the textual content does not always match with the drawing instructions. For example, the page specifically about the 1998 Godzilla film is followed by instructions for how to draw Godzilla chomping a train. The back of the book includes more trivia and a few book recommendations as well, such as Adam Woog's book for children, which, while not perfect, is still better than this.

Simply put, Drawing Godzilla is a deeply flawed, deeply disappointing book. While the trivia is mildly interesting and appropriate for little kids, the main attraction—the actual drawing instruction—is just abysmal, especially given the asking prices for the book now on Amazon, where you can buy your out-of-print copy for upwards of four hundred dollars if you are an absolute idiot. I would say I am glad I bought the book when I did, but I can't really say I am happy to have paid money for Drawing Godzilla. Given how much Toho apparently nitpicked and tried to control how Godzilla was depicted in the IDW comics and Bob Eggleton's Godzilla children's books, it's a little surprising that Toho signed off on such an amateurish effort here. Again, I love the idea of a how-to Godzilla art book, but this attempt should have gone back to the drawing board.