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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Chet Phillips Homage Matchbox Label Art - 1

Sometimes, when I'm traveling down the rabbit hole looking for Alice, I sometimes find myself up by that signpost up ahead, and entering a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind as well.

Like this time:

No, it's not the Twilight Zone, but rather it's the imaginative world of Chet Phillips) of Austin, Texas, U.S. of A), who has blown me away with his art.

While looking for Japanese matchbox labels, I spotted Phillips creating modern versions of these iconic labels, using Japanese and American creatures as the focal point of his imagery... and since they utilize a bit of Japanese, all the better.

I have begun to create a blog of art used on Japanese-made matchbox labels, with the first one HERE. Check it out and then compare the art on the real ones to what Phillips has done here.

It's an homage well done.

Aside from the Pussycat in a kimono, which may be a parody of Puss in Boots (or just a cat in Japanese garb for no other reason than that's what he wanted to create), the rest are all famous movie creatures.

What's doubly cool about the artwork, is Phillips adding in the date that commemorates the creature's first appearance, as well as an homage to the studio that created them.

In most instances—and you can tell which was part of a set he created—Phillips adds in a bit of nature... because aside from paving over everything, Japan loves its nature.

I thought I'd show off some off his matchbox label art here.

While I did not include them because of a lack of a Japanese connection, within this art segment he has also created cool art for Alien(s) and Cthulhu (great story by HP Lovecraft!), Dr. Who material, and Harry Potter material, and more.

I am highlighting just a small amount of his work here, but urge you to go and check out his website, and maybe drop some money on a book, a shirt, a poster or whatever. It's all affordably priced!

You'll be the coolest otaku (geek) on whatever block you are on: WEBSITE:
Puss In Kimono - while not part of the kaiju (film monster) series of artwork that Phillips has created, I like this piece for its Japaneseness. It's a word.

Ultraman (ウルトラマン, Urutoraman) is a Japanese science fiction television series produced by Tsuburaya Productions from July 17, 1966 to April 9, 1967, with a total of 39 episodes (40, counting the pre-premiere special that aired on July 10, 1966). Although Ultraman is the first series to feature an Ultra-Crusader, it is actually the second show in the Ultra Series, as Ultra Q was the first. I used to watch the re-runs of Ultraman in Canada back around 1971-72, play wrestling with my friend Umberto pretending we were the hero (and villain) after watching the episodes at his place or mine.  

Mechagodzilla (メカゴジラ, Mekagojira) is a mecha that first appeared in the 1974 film Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla as an extraterrestrial villain opposing Godzilla. Later flicks have him being a man-made creation to battle Godzilla.
Mechagodzilla - see above.
Astro Boy (鉄腕アトム, Tetsuwan Atomu), is a Japanese manga (comic book) series written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka in the Weekly Shonen Magazine from 1952 to 1968. It was later made in an anime (cartoon), and details the trials and tribulations of Astro Boy a friendly robot. 
Pigmon, Ultraman villain. Pigman (ピグモン, Pigumon) is a small monster that first appeared in the TV series, Ultraman. He appeared in episodes 8 and 37, "The Lawless Monster Zone" and "The Littlest Hero" in 1966, and weights a maximum of 95 kilograms ( ~210 pounds), standing a maximum of  1.5 meters (4.92 feet) high.
Rodan (ラドン, aka Radon)), not to be confused with King Ghidorah, first appeared in the kaiju movie Sora no Daikaijū Radon (空の大怪獣 ラドン, "Radon, Giant Monster of the Sky") in 1956 from Toho Studios, and was the first of the kaiju movies to be made in color film.
Mothra and Shobijin (small beauties) who are twin priestesses (or fairies) who stand 12-inches (30-centimeters) tall. Mothra (モスラ, Mosura) is a kaiju that first appeared in Toho's 1961 film Mothra. She is indeed female.  
Baragon - debuted in Toho's 1965 film Frankenstein Conquers the World. He is considered a guardian, however, in the Millennium series of movies in the 2001 film, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack as one of three ancient guardian monsters (Mothra and King Ghidorah).
Keeper of the forest Totoro from "My Neighbor Totoro", a 1988 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli.
Godzilla - complete with what looks like a removable head. He is indeed, the King of the box office, as well as the monsters.

Nothing says Japan like Godzilla and blossoming cherry trees. Hey! Is he like 6' tall?

King Ghidorah (キングギドラ, Kingu Ghidora) is a kaiju film monster that first appeared in Toho's 1964 film Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster.

Anguirus (アンギラス, Angirasu) is a kaiju film monster that first appeared in Toho's 1955 film Godzilla Raids Again. It is the second monster to appear in Toho kaiju films. Anguirus appeared a year after Godzilla, and is the first monster that Godzilla battles.
Gamera... he was shot down over Mt. Fuji in his debut movie. Gamera (ガメラ ) is a kaiju, and first appeared in Daiei Film's 1965 film Gamera: The Giant Monster, as a means of the studio's attempt to dethrone Godzilla.

King Kong... the only one of these I find confusing... as the art implies that Kong was "made in Japan"... but he was an American movie monster, not a Japanese kaiju. OR, Phillips is smarter than us all, and it's the Japanese King Kong (和製キングコング Wasei Kingu Kongu), based on now lost 1933 short film by the Shochiku Company Ltd., issued the same year as the American film. Skull Island appears in the original US movie, but since the Japanese film is lost, I can not confirm if it was mentioned in the Japanese version. 
Star Wars' Chewbacca The Wookie. When playing 3D games against a wookie, it is best to let the wookie win, as a way of ensuring one's arms aren't ripped out of their sockets. Again, not part of the Japanese film or television works, since Phillips decided to add the Japanese katakana for Chewie's name (by his feet), I had to add it to this collection.

There we have it. It's not even close to the sum total of matchbox artwork Phillips has done as an homage to Japanese film and television.

I will get around to showing you some other brilliant examples of his love affair with Japan soon enough.

Meanwhile, for those wishing to get a sneak peak, or to simply see about purchasing some of Phillips' work for yourself, I urge you to visit his website at:

Andrew Joseph

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