just heard the news that Aaron Smith, the man who gave us the wonderful Monster Zero website, has died from a heart attack. He was only 36.
Monster Zero is one of the best fansites dedicated to Japanes monster movies (Godzilla, Gamera, etc), and I used to visit it frequently when the awful 1998 American Godzilla came out. The message boards were always lively, and Aaron managed to keep his visitors relatively civil even when they passionately debated their likes and dislikes.
Monster Zero was one of over a dozen fansite that was brought under the umbrella of Fandom.Com when I was Vice-President in charge of Editorial Content, back in 1999. It was a genuine pleasure to be working with somone whose site I had been enjoying for many months, although our contact was mostly via e-mail.
I only met Aaron once, when Fandom.Com flew him and the other web masters out to our corporate headquarters in Santa Monica. He was a nice guy who really loved what he was doing, and I was glad to see he kept Monster ZEro going, even after Fandom.Com sank down the bankruptcy drainhole.
Since then I've continued to visit Monster Zero from time to time, and Aaron was nice enough to link to Hollywood Gothique whenever I reviewed some new Japanese giant monster movie like GODZILLA: FINAL WARS or ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT.
Our contact was sporadic, and he apologized, explaining that his mother was in poor health. She passed away a year ago, and Aaron himself was not in the best of shape. Still, I never expected him to pass so suddenly.
According to the obituary at Monster Zero, he had been in the hospital following an injury. His friends thought he was out of the woods; then he suffered an unexpected, massive heart attack that took his life. It was terrible news, not entirely unexpected (considering his health) but still shocking. Somehow, I just expected that he would recover and soldier on...
It's a great loss to fans of Godzilla, and even though I hadn't heard from Aaron in a while, I feel it as a great personal loss as well.