This year marks the 70th anniversary for Godzilla and the King of the Monsters already began the year strong when Godzilla Minus One won the Academy Award for best visual effects, the first Oscar ever in the franchise’s history. On the publishing side of things, IDW will certainly be continuing the celebration by unleashing various comics. One such project is Godzilla: Skate or Die, a five-issue miniseries from writer/artist Louie Joyce

Set in Australia, the series finds four die-hard skater friends on a mission to save their beloved skate park before it’s completely annihilated from a battle between Godzilla and the ferocious Varan. Ahead of the release of the first issue in June, we had the pleasure of interviewing Louie Joyce via email to discuss the project. Check it out below.  

Taimur Dar: The obvious first question is how did this Godzilla: Skate or Die miniseries come about? Were you approached specifically for a Godzilla comic project and given free rein or were there certain parameters that came with it?

Louie Joyce: I was originally approached by Editor Jazmine Joyner about pitching an idea for an issue of the Godzilla: RIVALS series that IDW publishes. Which I was super excited by. At the time I was frothing on everything skating too (still am)! I’d gotten back into rollerblading just before the pandemic, it had become a huge part of my physical and mental health, as well as my creative practice. As soon as I started blading again I started drawing blading stuff all the time and this contributed to a huge stylistic shift in how I was approaching my art making. So I knew I wanted to incorporate it into my story if at all possible. Also around this time a DIY skatepark that some friends of mine had started during the pandemic, on an empty concrete slab in Port Kembla, was under threat of being torn down by the local council. I’d been skating this spot heaps since it popped up, as had a thriving community that had grown around it. That community rallied and was able to save the DIY, and even more so secure a grant to get an actual skatepark built in that location!

So the idea of this big monstrous, indifferent entity coming to step on this beautiful community driven skatepark kinda formed the basis for Skate or Die. IDW dug the idea but felt it didn’t quite fit into the RIVALS mold so they asked if I’d be interested in pitching it as its own mini series. Which I absolutely was! I expanded the outline and created a few pieces of art to go with the pitch and they loved it! 5 issues has provided me a lot more space to expand some of the ideas and themes within the story and just go for broke with the things I’m most excited about drawing, rad skating and epic Kaiju battles!

Dar: Pretty much anyone in the entertainment or creative field is just happy to work at all. If they’re in a position to be selective about their projects, all the better. I’m a big James Gunn fan and his ability to create personal stories out of big budget projects like Guardians of the Galaxy or Peacemaker. Gunn has said he never wants to make something that he doesn’t care about with every fiber of his being. As you admitted in an interview, your first interaction with Godzilla was the infamous ’98 movie. Same for me, as well the ’78 Hanna-Barbera cartoon. What was it about this project and Godzilla in general that you could sink your teeth into as a creator?

Louie Joyce: Yeah, I think I definitely agree with that sentiment, especially when it comes to making comics! It’s such a demanding medium as a creator and not one that makes you a ton of change in return y’know? You have to be doing it for the love of it. Where that love sits can change project to project, and the key is often finding that sweet spot that makes you care deeply about what you’re making. Godzilla was an intimidating prospect for sure, but once I had the basic story idea I mentioned above I felt like everything fell into place pretty easily from a story perspective. Godzilla is one of those malleable properties that provides a great opportunity to explore different ideas, settings and genres. Everyone has an idea of what to expect from a Godzilla story, how you interact with those expectations and what you juxtapose them with creates incredible potential as a storyteller. Teen skaters wading into a huge Kaiju battle to save a dinky DIY, on a surface level can sound a little ridiculous right? But it’s the perfect place for me to explore and communicate my love of skating culture and communities, and the power of having wheels under your feet!

Dar: It goes without saying that Godzilla is a global cultural icon but the character’s popularity has reached a zenith in the last few years whether it be Godzilla Minus One or Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. And of course this year is Godzilla’s 70th anniversary. Obviously when you work on such a major property, there’s a lot of oversight. I remember a writer for the Star Wars comics from Marvel said he was told by Lucasfilm change a story with Luke Skywalker fishing because they had him catching fish in The Last Jedi and didn’t want to repeat a similar story beat so close to each other. What kinds of notes, if any, did you receive from the “powers to be” for Godzilla: Skate or Die?  

Louie Joyce: Working with IDW and Toho has been a great experience! My work is pretty stylised so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’ve honestly not had too many notes and when I have they’ve been quite minor like “it looks a little like Godzilla has 4 fingers here, can you remove this line?” From a story perspective I think because it’s all original characters (besides Godzilla and Varan of course) and set in a very specific place in Port Kembla, Australia, I’ve kind of got this special little corner of the universe to play in! I also feel lucky in that the different editors that I’ve worked with in developing this project, first Jazmine Joyner, then David Mariotte and now Jake Williams, have all provided really fantastic feedback that’s always making the comic better.

Dar: I’m not ashamed to admit that I adore the children’s cartoon Bluey, which is a great exploration and showcase of life in Australia, specifically Brisbane. You of course are from Australia, I believe Wollongong, which is the setting of this Godzilla limited series. Can you discuss the unique aspects you wanted to highlight and explore as a setting for the Godzilla: Skate or Die series?

Louie Joyce: Bluey is amazing and side note: I’m hoping this comic is somehow the first step towards the inevitable Bluey x Godzilla crossover!!!

But yep, I live in Wollongong and the majority of this comic is set in Port Kembla which is about 20 mins south. It’s a beautiful part of the world, amazing beaches, stunning bush and a great skate culture, especially on the DIY side. PK is an old steelworking town, right next to the town proper there’s this massive steelworks that’s past its heyday (In my story it’s fully decommissioned and the perfect place for a rad DIY, until for some bloody reason Godzilla and Varan are both heading right for it!). It’s that smaller town away from the big city life vibe, not dissimilar to Newcastle, where I grew up and spent most of my teens years skating around the streets. A large part of the story is about that experience, how there’s not always spaces for teenagers and how often teens choose to create their own spaces away from whatever expectations are placed upon them. So I’m drawing on that and taking influence from all the great spots I get the pleasure of skating and the different people I meet and observe there. Also from my kids who, while not teenagers yet, have that teenage attitude in spades!

Dar: Fairly confident you’re a TMNT fan, and if that’s the case pretty certain you’ve seen the Mutant Mayhem animated film. I really liked the visual look of that film which definitely tapped into that DIY ethos and likely similar artistic influences on you. What were some of the visual inspirations for this Godzilla: Skate or Die project?

Louie Joyce: Absolutely a TMNT fan! That is one fandom I have been in as far back as I can remember. I looooved Mutant Mayhem, definitely hit all the right notes for me! They nailed the sketchy DIY aesthetic beautifully. 

For Skate or Die I’ve mainly been watching a lot of skating videos in the lead up, and trying to get out and skate as much as I can myself. Skate videos are their own unique form of storytelling. The story of a particular skater’s style or expression, or a crew, or a session at a specific spot etc. Great skate vids have their own rhythm and cadence, one that I think translates really well to comics, and that’s an approach I’m exploring with how I’m arranging panels and depicting movement within Skate or Die. When I mentioned earlier that getting back into blading revolutionized my own drawing, that’s the energy I want to bring to this comic. Hopefully in a way that makes people reading think “Damn skating looks fun!”

Dar: Finally, what other or future projects can you tease?

Louie Joyce: I’ve written a children’s book inspired by my kids that I really want to put some time aside to draw. I think a smaller project on the back of this will be a nice palate cleanser too. I definitely want to keep exploring the relationship between skate vids and comics that I mentioned and play around with some more animated stuff like I’ve done in the past. I also have a big personal GN project that I think after Godzilla: Skate or Die is completed I’ll finally be ready to tackle!

Godzilla: Skate or Die #1 will be available in comic shops on June 12th.