MONDOCON 2019: Mondo Talk — 21 Things We Learned

The projects that didn’t come to be, and still might…

Join the creative team behind Mondo’s posters — Rob Jones, Mitch Putnam, and Eric Garza — as they discuss and share insights behind the process of putting together a Mondo poster. The panel included a presentation of alternate concepts and directions, commentary behind some of the biggest releases of the year, and the opportunity to vote on direction for an upcoming Mondo poster.

Unlike previous years, no photos were allowed during the session, so we’re not only deprived of the delightful slides created by Rob Jones for the occasion, but we have to rely on my own notes for insight. As Rob said in the intro, “we’re gotten really fucking good at this,” so this year’s talk was also less about showing what didn’t get made, more more about stuff that might pop up at some point.


We Buy Your Kids: That marvelous duo from down under will be bringing a new show to Austin sometime in 2020, glimpsed sketches include work for Rear Window and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.


Jack Davis: The artist well known for his work on Mad Magazine and in the Baseball field was brought in to work on some Warriors themes designs that ended up going nowhere. As Rob put it, they took on a very “Joey Ramone” look.


That Coffee & Pie Show: Yep the Twin Peaks work with Greg Ruth was discussed, notably in terms of how beholden they were to Showtime/CBS/and Lynch. While 50 or so works made it through, there was pushback on a series of large (24×36) posters that were fully finalized and looked stunning. One showed Cooper sat in the Red Room, flanked by various facets of the show.


2001 A Space Odyssey: A recent poster by Boris Pelcer ran into some issues when after completion and ran by the Kubrick estate for approval. Apparently licensing for the “space baby” had ended, which was originally positioned at the top of the image. A Mondo staffer mentioned they had likeness rights for Keir Dullea, so they just switched out the baby for the actor in his old age makeup.


Batman ’89: A completed poster was shown by Lee Bermejo, showing Batman atop a grave, looming over two crooks, with the Joker’s smile worked into his outstretched cape. Apparently Michael Keaton has approval over the mouth and cowl work, so it’s done, but just needs to pass him.


Friday the 13th: Any half-informed horror fan will know the various licensing woes that befell this franchise the past few months; one casualty of it was a completed print by Gary Pullin for Part VI. It shows lightning hitting the grave of Jason, sketching out his mask in the sky above.


Wreck It Ralph: Mondo reached out to Tom Whalen to tackle the property, and he delivered in his usual style. But Disney had notes, more Disney characters and notably more Disney Princesses. After adding them and getting more requests and having the project be weighted down by increasing numbers of IP, they nixed it.


Blade Runner 2049: A sorely underappreciated piece of filmmaking has a number of different projects in the works at Mondo. Some have been nixed, some are in limbo, some will definitely happen. We were shown a MC Ecsher-inspired piece from Shan Jiang that was expertly constructed and, despite what the studio said, captured much of the film perfectly. We might even see Ken Taylor and Rory Kurtz tackle the property, too.


Black Panther: Matt Taylor killed it with his BP print this year, but we glimpsed an early “techno-future” version as well as one that showed T’Challa as the long character, flanked by jaguars (representing Killmonger), with a nifty Astral Plane variant. Marvel asked for the inclusion of other characters, leading to the reworked version we got.


The Favourite: Sticking with Taylor, he apparently caught Lanthimos’s film while visiting Austin and started sketching as soon as he got out. The poster concept we saw featured a number of rabbits on the floor, one in the center nibbling on a piece of cake. It’s a concept that the Mondo crew hopes isn’t entirely dead.


Detective Pikachu: Matt Taylor (busy guy) did an brilliant poster for a brilliant movie, but his early sketch was a bit more brooding, looking down on Pikachu with his reflection, and the city lights, mirrored in a puddle. The studio asked for it to be flipped so the signs could be read, and the resulting image looked too much like the OG one sheet, so they went back to the drawing board.


Idiocracy: The crew enlisted Leslie Herman to deliver some ideas for Mike Judge’s classic and boy were they great. The first saw a red cap with the words “It’s Got Electrolytes”; however, around the same time The First Purge put out its own riff in the idea. Others included the incorporation of middle fingers, a President Camacho shitting in a Uncle Sam hat, a roll of toilet paper with a US flag adornment (the studio said “c’moooon” apparently), and a final nixed version seeing a mutton chopped man wearing a Uncle Sam hat, with big gulp Brawndos duct taped to the side, their electrolytes delivered by long straws.


From Dusk Till Dawn: No not the good one, the TV show. Mondo was approached to do a poster and got Phantom CIty Creative on the case. Most of the ideas focused on the vampire played by Eiza Gonzalez, and after feedback from Robert Rodruigez, they tweaked the images a few times before he said, “can we just do a Titty Twister print instead?” so they nixed it.


Iron Man: Cesar Moreno put out a Iron Man print a few months back, but it wasn’t the only choice, with another version based off a Mexican sculpture depicting the duality of life and death. It basically showed different images of Stark in his various guises/stages spliced together.


A Clockwork Orange: The Mondo Talks are never more fascinating than when the Kubrick estate starts to get involved. Apparently due to some incidents following the film’s release, they do not approve any art that promotes violence. Oliver Barrett debuted a new poster for the film at the Con, but it wasn’t the first version. Originally the view was from below, the stick poised to swing, and the foot (emblazoned with the film title) ready to stomp down on those looking at the work. Violent intent, so nixed. Barrett went through a few different concepts, including one with McDowell submerged in milk, but settled on the con design, which had its own problems, as after printing it was realized the title was missing the ‘A’, so the entire run had to be redone. Also of quirky note, WB has no idea about the licensing of Beethoven (used in the film), citing uncertainty over image origins used in literature or the arts.


Captain America Civil War: The Marvel gallery show a few months ago has the Cap vs. IM team in a big punchup, courtesy of Barrett again. We glimpsed a few early ideas, one with Cap’s shield lodged in Iron Man’s head/neck being a standout, but the team was inspired by a Birth Movies Death Batman Vs Superman cover and asked Barrett to do a riff on that; his only provision was that each character had to be on it twice, once doling out some punishment, the second time receiving it.


Swiss Army Man: Another Oliver Barrett poster and one he was wary of putting out because he felt the anal expulsions looked a little too similar to a motif used by the Insane Clown Posse.


Labyrinth: Julian Totino Tedesco is working on a print and we saw several fabulous pieces that could run to a final poster. One showing Jareth looming large over Sarah and the baby was a standout.


The Shining: At a recent show, attendees were treated to two Laurent Durieux prints for the Kubrick film, one featuring Danny on his trike, the other a play off the axe/typewriter. But there was/is a third. This one showis Danny stood in the bathroom, as a woman in the bathtub is drawing back the shower curtain. Exuding menace (and a rather pinkish hue), the piece is done, and pending approval, and might get a release down the line.


Batman the Animated Series: Justin Ericksson of PCC joined them on stage, and having tackled multiple episodes of the popular show, announced his return to the franchise with a release in 2020 of a Vol. 2 for the score/soundtracks. The audience also got to cheer and pick which of three designs for the Joker’s Wild episode will get printed.


Gallery Shows! Mitch was coy about what was coming up over the next year, but we were informed a show would be happening to “celebrate a animation house” in response to a question about anime; we’ll see the Domaradzki brothers in town; and there is another show featuring Oliver Barrett and a mystery partner.

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