WHEN ALIENS ATTACK banner

An Interview with Neal

[Co-creator, Writer, Graphics]

The creators of
WHEN ALIENS ATTACK!

NEAL

EVAN

GERTRUDE

DONNY

RYAN

KENT

LOGAN

MATT

DAN

BS Digital (BSD):

Hello, this is Robert Morbius with BS Digital. We are here with Kaijuphile and Kaiju Galaxy Forum member Mecha74 (a.k.a. Neal Krafthefer), writer and co-creator of the epic fan-fiction saga, WHEN ALIENS ATTACK!
Should I refer to you as Mecha74 or Neal?

Neal:

Just using my real name is perfectly all right.

BSD:

Excellent. Now Neal, we are here to address how people will react in general to the WHEN ALIENS ATTACK! story. What are your thoughts on this subject?

Neal:

Honestly? A little nervous, to tell you the truth.

BSD:

Nervous? Why?

Neal:

Well, I guess because of the rather brutal standards that many have for fan created tales for the kaiju eiga genre.

BSD:

Would you care to elaborate?

Neal:

Certainly. I can read a story and enjoy it and think that it is good, but then I'll watch someone else come in and tear it apart limb from limb and make the author feel about an inch tall, and I'm standing there dumbfounded, scratching my head with a confused expression on my face. What was supposed to be so bad about it? What did they see that I missed? I honestly just don't get it...

BSD:

Do think that will happen with WAA!?

Neal:

Maybe or perhaps. More than likely would be a better answer.

BSD:

Do you see any problems with the story?

Neal:

No tale is perfect. no matter who writes it and we're all amateurs here. I'm not going to make any excuses about it but do I think it is a bad story? Hell, no! I personally think it is an amazing piece of work. And please keep in mind that I am not tooting my own horn here, I am saying that on behalf of my fellow contributors and writers.

BSD:

You have that much adoration for them?

Neal:

Yes, I do. Their work is amazing and has made me feel inadequate for the task many a time, to be quite honest.

BSD:

So you feel that others have written things that are superior to what you have contributed?

Neal:

Yes, absolutely! The things I have read have taken my breath away. As a co-creator, I knew most of what was going to happen in the story as it is, but it didn't stop me from being awed and amazed when I read the various parts anyway.

BSD:

What things do you think will get picked apart?

Neal:

I can only hazard a guess since I don't know what to expect or think from people most of the time. Maybe they'll say there was too much action and not enough story perhaps?

BSD:

Is that what you think?

Neal:

Not now. We went to a lot of trouble to take out various fight scenes for that exact reason, most of which were mine but we didn't remove anything that would effect the story in a detrimental way at all.

BSD:

But there is still a lot of action nonetheless?

Neal:

Yes, but if I may be so bold as to make a comparison?

BSD:

Please do.

Neal:

Are you familiar with Quentin Tarantino's KILL BILL films?

BSD:

Yes.

Neal:

His formula was almost non-stop action for the first tale and a lot more plot and substance for the second.

BSD:

Is that how you see WAA! and the forthcoming WAA! - 2?

Neal:

Yes, I do. I think that it's an adequate metaphor, in my humble opinion.

BSD:

Do you have any other concerns?

Neal:

Well, I'm not real sure how readers will react to talking monsters.

BSD:

They speak?

Neal:

In a manner of speaking. Pardon the pun.

BSD:

How so?

Neal:

Some exchange words using what we are calling "kaiju-speak."

BSD:

Wasn't something like this done in the Showa Godzilla films?

Neal:

Yes. In GHIDORAH, THE THREE HEADED MONSTER and GODZILLA VS. GIGAN.

BSD:

Is that the extent of it?

Neal:

No. Others communicate using telepathy while with others, we verbalize their thoughts.

BSD:

What do you think of this idea?

Neal:

Personally? I think it's great and gives the monsters a lot more personality. But there are those who feel that kaiju expression should be achieved through gestures, looks and movements while others feel that they should just shut the hell up and smash things. To each their own, I guess...

BSD:

I understand that you made your version of Gudis very talkative. What was your motivation for that?

Neal:

A need for change.

BSD:

What kind of change?

Neal:

A change of a character's personality.

BSD:

Why?

Neal:

For WAA!, I am writing for three villains: Gudis, Mugar and Fumio. I think it is important that they each have a different personality. At first, that was not the case.

BSD:

For instance? Neal: In the beginning, Gudis and Mugar were basically the same.

BSD:

Meaning?

Neal:

I wrote them both as cold, heartless monsters driven by hate and disgust. The only real difference between them was what they were physically. When I realized this, I knew it had to change.

BSD:

So you changed Gudis?

Neal:

Yes. I decided to make him a smart-ass with a lot of gallows humor and mannerisms.

BSD:

Why not leave Gudis as he is and just change Mugar? Gudis appears to be your favorite, anyhow.

Neal:

Because Mugar fits the mold of being angry and hateful perfectly. He has been scarred both mentally and physically and is seeking vengeance so it works for him. While Gudis can actually speak through his drones, giving him more opportunities to talk and interact facilitates a more flamboyant personality in my opinion.

BSD:

Are you worried about how people will react to your interpretation of Gudis?

Neal:

A little. The kind of personality I have given him is something that some find irritating. But if I have to choose between having two characters that are copy cats of each other or attempting to give one a different personality, even if it's one that may not be very well liked, it is pretty much a given what route I am going to take. Besides, I didn't completely change him. He isn't tossing out one-liners and cracking jokes in every sentence. He has some truly gruesome and evil moments in this story that remind you of just how evil and ruthless he can really be. For all his comedy and antics, in the end, death, chaos and mayhem is the ultimate practical joke. And one that he plans on playing on everyone in the story.

BSD:

Are you worried that you perhaps made Gudis too powerful, a la the Bagan Complex?

Neal:

No, and I'll tell you why. First of all, the Gudis doesn't attain the power he possesses instantly. He acquires it throughout the course of the story. Also, he gets his butt kicked in two different fights, nearly gets killed right from the start and then does get killed in the end. He doesn't make it to WAA - 2, whereas several other kaiju do. And lastly, the kind of power that Godzilla, Mothra and Grand King Ghidorah possess by the end of the tale facilitate his growth in power just so he can stay on the same playing field as them by comparison.

BSD:

Anything else that worries you?

Neal:

Oh, just... Everything.

BSD:

Everything? You say that with almost a laugh.

Neal:

I guess that's because I can kind of visualize what some readers may say. There may be some who are irritated by the combining of and/or changing of various continuities from the histories of Toho and Daiei. Others may argue that certain characters are not developed enough for their tastes. Some may say that there is too much material to keep track of and the list of gripes goes on etc, etc, etc.

BSD:

There are a lot of homages to classic science fiction films in this tale, are there not?

Neal:

Yes.

BSD:

So you are a fan of all kinds of old school sci-fi besides just Godzilla.

Neal:

Yes.

BSD:

Care to give anything away?

Neal:

Well, aside from some obvious pokes at PLANET OF THE APES in regards to the Simeons, I'd rather not give too much away and let the readers discover the references for themselves written by both me and my fellow writers do that.

BSD:

How do you feel about your own contributions to the story as a whole?

Neal:

I am happy for the most part but I wish I could've done more character development for Angelique.

BSD:

The character that you created as a romantic interest for Prince Hector?

Neal:

Yes. If anyone is going to attack my writing or look for a weak spot, that one is probably my most obvious weak spot. And as always, I am wondering if there are things that I should have changed or written differently. I am always putting my own work under a microscope.

BSD:

This is one of the first times that you have tried a serious effort at human drama, is it not?

Neal:

Yes. With everything I have written up until now, it has been mostly monster fights. There have been some meager attempts at telling a coherent story and trying to develop non-kaiju characters but nothing compared to what I have done for WAA!.

BSD:

What non-kaiju characters are you writing for?

Neal:

The Simeons, chiefly Argon, Bordu and Mugar with some other supporting Simeon characters. Angelique, as well as doing scenes for King Antonio and Prince Hector. The Nebulans, Chairman Fumio Subo and Kubota. And the human characters of Captain Douglas Gordon, Koji Nanbara and General Aso. There are others but these are the ones I did the most with in the story.

BSD:

How do you feel that you did?

Neal:

I did the best that I could with my abilities as a writer, such as they are at this point and time in my life. I am sure there is much room for improvement but that's just the way it is. You can only improve by continuously writing more and more and hoping that it pays off. If people feel that my characters in WAA! are not up to snuff, then all I can say is that I am sorry and that I did all that I thought I could.

BSD:

Is there anything that you have done that you are confident will be received well? Or if not received well, something that you are proud of and wouldn't change?

Neal:

Only one thing: The kaiju fights.

BSD:

Really?

Neal:

Yes. It's the kind of stuff that I have been writing for 20 years and I think I've got a pretty good handle on that.

BSD:

What do you use as inspiration? What do you draw from for your battles?

Neal:

A lot of things, to be honest. Kaiju eiga, of course, along with professional wrestling, martial arts, comic books, cartoons, horror and gore films and anything else that fits my fancy.

BSD:

Your battles are known to be extensive, detailed and brutal almost to a fault. Why go that route?

Neal:

Because I want to take kaiju battles in a direction that others won't go. If that means making them gory and throwing in a few wrestling holds, so be it.

BSD:

Aren't you worried that kaiju fans in general may not like that?

Neal:

I don't write my monster fights for the fans. I write them for me and I write what I would want to see. If the readers want normal, status quo, politically correct, toned-down kaiju battles, they can read someone else's fic. When they read something done by me, they are going to see something different. If they don't like it, they don't have to read it. No one is putting a gun to their heads.

BSD:

But are you not putting this story out there for their approval? Your approach is far from what some would call popular...

Neal:

Yes, but no matter what someone writes, you can never make everyone happy. It is impossible. No matter how many people you ask or how many butts you try to kiss, there is always going to be someone out there (usually several) who will say, "this sucks." So I would rather just march to the beat of my own drum rather than waste my time trying to appease everyone. Now if I can just get the other aspects of my writing up to snuff, I'll be in good shape.

BSD:

What if the WAA! story is actually well received?

Neal:

Then I will probably have a heart attack, especially considering the already mentioned standards that many have for judging fan fiction.

BSD:

And if it isn't received well?

Neal:

Life goes on.

BSD:

Really?That's it? After close to two years that you have all slaved away on this project?

Neal:

It doesn't matter how long or hard we have worked on this story. Look at Hollywood, for example. Some films take years to be completed, with untold amounts of work put into them but do critics or fans cut them any slack? No. We should expect no different.

BSD:

So you are actually somewhat pessimistic then?

Neal:

Yes. Listen up. I love this story and I think that it's amazing but according to some, I am an idiot who knows nothing of good writing and has absolutely no taste. So hey, whatever.

BSD:

Because you enjoy stories, films and TV shows that others deem atrocious and unforgivable?

Neal:

Yes.

BSD:

How does that make you feel?

Neal:

I don't feel anything because I don't care what anyone else thinks to begin with. I can and will watch, read and enjoy whatever I damn well please and if someone doesn't like it, they can kiss my ass.

BSD:

Wow! That's a rather bold statement.

Neal:

Have you seen the way people react to these kinds of things? There are some out there who think I should be shot in the face for liking what I like. For some damn reason, I am suddenly ten times worse than any rapist or murderer just because someone doesn't like that I watch a certain kind of film or praise certain works. It's really quite pathetic.

BSD:

And in regards to WAA!?

Neal:

For that I will quote myself from a post I made at the Kaiju Galaxy Forums:
"But just so that everyone here knows exactly where I stand on this, working on WAA! has been an experience that I will never forget.
I have enjoyed every moment of writing and reading on this project and working with all of you. And even if the worst case scenario comes to pass which would be when this goes public and everyone who reads it says it's terrible and it's garbage and that we have no business writing anything, I'm here to tell you that I for one don't care and that I love this story no matter what!"

Neal:

I think that sums it up.

BSD:

We discussed the story itself, how it would be received and Gudis. I would now like to ask you about the other characters you wrote for, if you don't mind?

Neal:

Not at all.

BSD:

Excellent. Now, Neal, a lot of writers for WAA! chose specific races to write for. Yours, for example, were the Simeons. Why did you choose them, may I ask?

Neal:

Honestly, it was sort of an act of desperation.

BSD:

Really? How so?

Neal:

Well, when we first started this project, we had like twelve people who wanted to join and write for it. Among them was someone who wanted to write for the Simeons.

BSD:

What happened?

Neal:

The same thing that happened to about half the people who initially joined: they left the project early on.

BSD:

Why?

Neal:

Got sidetracked, busy with other things, lost interest, etc., etc., etc...

BSD:

So you decided to pick up the torch for the Simeons then...

Neal:

Yep.

BSD:

How did you initially feel about that?

Neal:

Not that great.

BSD:

Why?

Neal:

Because writing human/alien-level drama isn't my strong suit. I'm the monster fight guy. That's what I do.

BSD:

Which is why you chose Gudis?

Neal:

Right. Violence and dialogue I can handle but plot weaving and interaction has always been a weakness of mine in writing.

BSD:

So then, why not just leave them to someone else?

Neal:

Because there was no one else. If I didn't pick up the slack for them, then they wouldn't get used.

BSD:

And with that, your tenure with the Simeons began.

Neal:

You got it.

BSD:

Let's start with Mugar. Why did you decide to use him?

Neal:

I just had this cool idea very early on of a Mugar that actually survived the climax of TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA, despite the fact that his ship got blown up. A Mugar that is scarred both physically and psychologically from his ordeal and driven by hatred, vengeance and total insanity to destroy the Earth, humanity and most definitely, Godzilla. I just liked the idea and wanted to run with it.

BSD:

Then there are the Simeons you created for the story, chief among them - pardon the pun - Argon. Tell us a little about him. What was your motivation for that character?

Neal:

In the beginning? Just the need to move the story along. It was the same for Bordu and Nargas, too.

BSD:

Really?

Neal:

Yes. At the time, I really didn't know how much I was going to use these characters or if any of them would even live for very long, for that matter.

BSD:

What changed that?

Neal:

The fact that I actually started to enjoy myself as I wrote the characters, which made me want to keep them around and find ways to make them function properly within the story.

BSD:

Which you obviously did. Getting back to Argon, by the way...

Neal:

He's basically your cliche character who is straddling the fence. Torn between emotion and duty, orders and logic, loyalty and free thought. Deep down he's a good man, er... ape, I mean. He just has to go through a few ordeals before he figures it out for himself.

BSD:

And having the idealistic Bordu whispering in his ear adds to this, of course...

Neal:

Exactly. He may be just a young rookie but that doesn't mean that what he says isn't making sense and he forces Argon to take a step back and look at the big picture and where the path they have chosen - or more to the point, the one Mugar chose for them - will eventually lead them. They are on a collision course with extinction and Mugar is the one doing the driving.

BSD:

And Bordu?

Neal:

He's the one who sees what's coming and is also one of the few Simeons who would dare to speak out against Mugar's unstable and tyrannical rule as Commander. He, in a sense, becomes Argon's conscience.

BSD:

One that Argon eventually listens to.

Neal:

Quite right. Of all the races that are assembling on or near Earth, the Simeons are the worst off of the bunch. They have limited manpower and resources and no homeworld left to go back to. Mugar's actions are simply putting the final nail in the coffin. And when Argon realizes this, well... desperate times call for desperate measures.

BSD:

Was it your idea to have the Simeons join the United World Powers from the beginning?

Neal:

Well, what I figured would happen would be that Argon and Bordu would defect and Mugar would lead the rest of the Simeons to their doom. But I quickly decided against that and had Mugar dealt with so that the remaining Simeons could then surrender and join the UWP.

BSD:

Of course, not all of the Simeons are happy about this.

Neal:

No, they are not.

BSD:

This is where Nargas comes in.

Neal:

Yep. He's the stereotypical Simeon: cold, ruthless, and hateful. Despite the fact that he wasn't around for very long, I still had a lot of fun writing the character.

BSD:

Then there is Toru, the Lead Programmer for Titanosaurus and Mechagodzilla. Though he is only present for one scene, he still plays a very important role, does he not?

Neal:

Yes, he does. He is one of the main catalysts for Argon's insurrection against Mugar.

BSD:

What about the cyborgs? Why did you chose to keep Mechagodzilla the same as he was in the Showa films instead of using one of his updated incarnations as has been done with other kaiju in the story?

Neal:

Put simply: I like him better than the others.

BSD:

And Titanosaurus: What made you choose to include him?

Neal:

The need for a fighting chance on the Simeons part. I figured that MG by himself, no matter how I augmented him for the story, would be in a lot of trouble going up against some of the things that he would be facing in the story so with that in mind and the fact that Titano was available and part of the Simeon legacy anyway, that just made it logical to include him.

BSD:

Now unlike the other kaiju in the story, you didn't give the cyborgs the ability to verbalize in either speech or thought. Why is that?

Neal:

Simple. They are machines and are not alive.

BSD:

What about the partially flesh, partially cybernetic Titanosaurus? Wouldn't he be comparable to Gigan in a sense?

Neal:

Technically and medically, Titano is dead. Despite the fact that there is flesh remaining, his higher brain functions are gone and all of his movements and thinking are handled mechanically, just like MG. Gigan still has brain function and therefore conscious thought and personality.

BSD:

I see. What about the pro wrestling programming?

Neal:

I thought it would be cool. That, plus they are perfectly suited from a hand-to-hand combat standpoint to carry out those kind of fight tactics.

BSD:

So you are a pro wrestling fan, then?

Neal:

Yes.

BSD:

Interesting. I wouldn't expect a wrestling aficionado... well to...

Neal:

Enjoy writing and reading and trying to engage in either?

BSD:

Well, yes. If you don't mind my saying so...

Neal:

I don't mind, and it's okay. I don't mind being an anomaly; I rather enjoy it, actually.

BSD:

So what wrestlers did you use for inspiration?

Neal:

From TNA: Samoa Joe and A.J. Styles. From WWE, The Undertaker. And from old school ECW, Tazz.

BSD:

So in the end, choosing to write for the Simeons really paid off for you...

Neal:

Yes, it did. It ended up being a lot of fun.

BSD:

All right, then. Moving right along, next we have Captain Gordon.

Neal:

Ah, yes...

BSD:

What made you pick him to write for?

Neal:

It was pretty much on a whim. I had this scene planned with the GOTENGO attacking the Simeon base and suddenly realized that although we all knew that it was going to be in the story, nothing had been said about its crew; who they would be and who would be writing for them. So I nominated myself for all of it since no one else had any plans to speak of.

BSD:

GODZILLA: FINAL WARS received mixed reviews. People either seem to love or hate the film. Did it worry you that you were going to be using a character from a film that the Godzilla fandom for the most part didn't care for?

Neal:

I didn't care. I liked the character myself and have been a Don Frye fan since long before GFW. One of the things that hurt GFW was an incoherent story with way too much going on at once to really focus on certain characters. Hopefully, we have done a better job of that with our story.

BSD:

And Koji Nanbara? The character you made Captain Gordon's friend and 1st Officer on the GOTENGO?

Neal:

Had to do it.

BSD:

Care to explain?

Neal:

With a lot of the Showa aliens, certain things and events got changed for our story but with the Simeons, everything has happened exactly as it did in the films. And since I was going to all this trouble to tie the events and continuity of GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA and TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA into our tale, I decided to go one better by introducing the Koji character.

BSD:

And he is supposed to be the younger brother of the legendary INTERPOL agent Shin Nanbara who helped prevent the first Simeon invasion in the original GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA back in 1974.

Neal:

Correct. He always looked up to his big brother all his life and decided to follow in his footsteps as a defender against alien invasion.

BSD:

Then we have the whole Seatopian situation. Comments?

Neal:

Well, Ryan Dempsey began with some stunning scenes that just took my breath away.

BSD:

Then what?

Neal:

He got sidetracked.

BSD:

So you decided to pick up the torch for them, too.

Neal:

Absolutely. There was no way I was going to let that go. And as I wrote, I tried to stick with the very regal and dignified manner that Ryan had presented both them and Megalon in.

BSD:

That was indeed a bold move for the both of you, considering that these characters come from arguably the worst Godzilla film ever made.

Neal:

True, but the potential was always there. They just needed to be written properly for it to work.

BSD:

How do you feel that you did?

Neal:

The best that I could, all things considered. But I still don't think my stuff is on the same level as Ryan's and I would've been happier if he had stayed with it.

BSD:

You introduced the Angelique character. Why was that?

Neal:

My attempt at some self-contained drama for the Seatopians, who before that had no other scenes besides the first ones Ryan wrote and UWP meeting scenes. I wanted to try to give both King Antonio and Prince Hector further development and she was the foil for that. Yeah, I know. Not terribly clever but then again, like I've said countless times, I never claimed to be a good writer.

BSD:

Now Megalon: There's a 180 if I ever saw one...

Neal:

Which is exactly what Ryan and I both wanted. To me, Megalon was a missed opportunity in his film appearance. He's a cool looking monster with some damn kick-ass weaponry that is only hindered by his stupidity and cowardice. We wanted to change that by making him a fearless bad ass with a far more noble mentality.

BSD:

Well, I would say you both succeeded.

Neal:

Thank you. If it were not for Ryan's initial scenes, I never would've gotten the inspiration to do any of the things that I ended up doing with Megalon and the Seatopians. The credit goes to him on that one.

BSD:

Next we have the Nebulans and Gigan. You technically wrote the first piece for this story with an encounter between the character Chairman Fumio Subo and King Antonio. Is that not so?

Neal:

Yes.

BSD:

What prompted that?

Neal:

I had always wondered after seeing the part in GODZILLA VS. MEGALON where the Seatopians contact Space Nebula Hunter M for assistance why there was an alliance between them and how it happened. That became the basis for that scene and the majority of the scenes I did for the Nebulans and Seatopians.

BSD:

But the Nebulans and Gigan you share with several other writers, correct?

Neal:

Yes. Aside from myself, Gertrude, Evan, Ryan, Logan and Matt, all contributed pieces for them which I think added a lot of depth to them as a result. And considering that violent cases of writer's block were starting to beat me down, I couldn't have been more thrilled by the collaboration.

BSD:

You made Fumio and the Nebulans very sneaky and conniving. Was there a reason for that?

Neal:

Yes, I thought it would be cool and different in comparison to the other alien races who were pretty much barging in full force with guns a blazin', ready to conquer and wipe everything out. It adds even more drama that the Nebulans are actually a part of the UWP and are pretending to be allies when they really have their own agenda.

BSD:

Though the Nebulans play a rather large role, you ended up taking them out a little sooner than expected. How come?

Neal:

Well, truth be told, the second half of WAA! is just one long series of exciting climaxes. That was just one to add to the mix and to make room for the other things that had yet to happen in the story so that we didn't have an over-crowded ending.

BSD:

Any other characters of significance you would like to mention?

Neal:

I had a lot of fun writing for General Aso, which is another character I shared with a lot of other writers, along with the Mu Empress and Queen Fimetreous. And I also enjoyed writing battles involving other writers' kaiju like King Ghidorah, King Kong and Mothra. I also wrote for the Elias fairies.

BSD:

Do you have a favorite among the ones you used?

Neal:

Kong in a heart beat.

BSD:

And why is that?

Neal:

Same thing that happened with Ryan and Megalon. when I read what Logan was doing with him, I went absolutely nuts and couldn't wait to use him.

BSD:

And last but not least, the kaiju king himself, Godzilla. Another character that was shared by many.

Neal:

Indeed. There was stuff written for him by me, Matt, Logan, Evan and Donny.

BSD:

You ended up writing the big climax battle between Godzilla and Gudis at the end of WAA! 1. How did that make you feel?

Neal:

Nervous, actually. The problem with writing the kind of fights that I do is that you have to constantly out-do yourself, especially when it's the finale.

BSD:

Do you feel that you accomplished that?

Neal:

I'll just say... that I hope so.

BSD:

While on the subject of using other people's characters, what about yours?

Neal:

Let's see... Gudis was written by Donny; Mechagodzilla and Titanosaurus by Evan, King Seesar by [Kaijuphile Forum member] Biohazard85 and Argon by Evan and Logan.

BSD:

So this truly was a huge collaborative effort in more ways than one?

Neal:

I'd say that is definitely an understatement.

BSD:

Well, for the time being, I think I am all out of questions for you, Neal. As always, it has been a pleasure. And here's hoping that the amazing tale that you have all labored on for so long is warmly received.

Neal:

Thank you.