In Famous Monsters of Filmland #132 (March, 1977), an advertisement appeared for a Godzilla Fan Club. The ad was placed by a gentleman named Richard Campbell.
Nathan Fox, a young Godzilla nut who saw the ad and immediately subscribed, saved all five newsletters (called “fan letters”) produced by Campbell and his team. The detail I left out is that Campbell was 17 or 18 at the time he placed the ad and produced, by hand, the fan letters, all of which have been scanned by Fox in various formats. Read the amazing story and see the letters at Fox’s site.
Could this have been the first American Godzilla fan club? It’s unlikely, but if there had been others in plain sight, I doubt Campbell would have placed his ad (you can see that on Fox’s site as well).
As I’ve said many times before, we were a generation of fans when being a fan meant more than compulsively advertising the fact to the world. It meant building working monuments and monographs to our sources of inspiration.
UPDATE: Japanese film and pop culture scholar August Ragone (Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters: Defending the Earth with Ultraman, Godzilla, and Friends in the Golden Age of Japanese Science Fiction Film) weighs in on Godzilla fan clubs in the U.S.:
Yep, I had one. The “Godzilla Fan Club” was promoted on both “Creature Features” and “Captain Cosmic” on KTVU-2, since I was serving as their teenaged “Godzilla/Japanese Film Expert.” The beloved host, Bob Wilkins, set it up for me and we ran with it…
The first kit was printed in blue and included a fan club member’s certificate (with artwork by Dennis Lancaster), a newsletter with a cut-out membership card, and a photo of Godzilla. The second wave included a new certificate (with all new artwork by Lancaster), a new newsletter and new cut-out membership card, and a new photo of Godzilla…
And I do recall seeing another “Godzilla Fan Club” in an earlier issue of “Famous Monsters” — possibly in the early-to-mid 1970s (perhaps between 1974-1976). There may also have been one or two advertised in the Want Ad section of “The Monster Times.”
Thanks again, August!