24 Things We Learned From 2016’s MONDO TALK

The “Mondo Talk” is a panel at this year’s Mondo-Con wherein Mondo’s Creative Directors Mitch Putnam, Rob Jones, Jay Shaw, and Head of Creative Production Eric Garza enlighten fans on the company’s behind the scenes process for getting your favorite posters and vinyl made, while digging up the graves of would-be memorabilia that never saw the light of day.

You can check out last year’s enlightening Mondo Talk here.

Read below to see what we learned this year, and check out the rest of Cinapse’s MondoCon 2016 coverage.

1Olly Moss completed a Force Awakens Poster, and the billing block is the reason it wasn’t released. This is probably going to be the biggest heartbreaker for most Mondo fans, so I’m getting it out of the way right off the bat. As part of Mondo’s Star Wars license they legally can’t put billing/credit blocks on the poster. In fact, it seems that no one except Disney (legally) can, since the only license given is a “fine art license.” Olly and Mondo felt that it needed to be cohesive with his other 3 releases in the Star Wars series, so they refused to create it without the billing block. Maybe some day…

(Click pictures to embiggen!)

2There is a “very, very, very good chance” of Mondo tackling the Blade Runner property. They have been chasing it forever, but have made recent headway because of the sequel.

3Eric is the “Pin” guy*, being in charge of the craze that is rebounding recently with its integration into pop culture art. The Marvel series of “Whalenamels” by artist Tom Whalen has had some noticeably missing pins, but not by accident. For example, they tried to make an Apocalypse pin to tie in to the recent X-Men movie. Also Lockjaw, Frogthor, and Howard the Duck were supposed to be joined by Spider-pig, but he was rejected. Poor Peter Porker.

4There were a few more Inside Out vinyl series renditions: in the pictures you’ll see how Disgust went through a Liz Phair phase that didn’t end up working out. When they finally switched to Hole, they ended up adding the broccoli to accentuate her character and tie it more strongly to the reference. With Joy, the artist who designed the character helped with tweaking the rendition to more closely match the original (same with Riley).

5Kevin Tong has a 2001 tattoo, and originally worked on the long journey that ended with Jay Shaw’s 2001: A Space Odyssey vinyl. They weren’t allowed to reference any imagery from the film, which was a struggle. Below you’ll see Kevin’s attempts. Jay took it over – his idea was to make the vinyl the actual monolith – it’s imagery from the film without getting in trouble. After all – it’s a just black box. Also, this release is the reason they no longer use acetate – it’s too expensive (one album that was going to have it was Paranorman).

6Mondo is trying to get the Ghibli license again for posters, and we learned that there will be Ghibli SteelBooks soon.

7Randy Ortiz hates happiness. This is evidenced by his Rocket and Baby Groot attempt. Rob pushed him to make a pairing with his full-grown Groot poster, but he ended up abandoning the concept because it wasn’t matching his personality (he actual words were that it was “killing his soul” – when it came up on screen, Randy yelled out from the back in anguish). As a karma recalibration, he did Dead Ringers art, a chopped up corpse with babies in the womb. The studio pushed back a bit, but at first surprisingly only on the babies choking on their umbilical cords. This was fixed by making the cords the same color, so the fact they were choking to death wasn’t highlighted. Sam Wolfe Connolly also made an attempt, lovingly referred to by Rob as a “baby salad.”

8These are a few of the artists that Mitch keeps asking to do work for Mondo, but keep saying no: James Jean, Chris Ware, Audry Kawasaki, Rafael Grandpa, Todd McFarlane.

9The original Crash soundtrack cover was too vaginal for Howard Shore. Jay Shaw said he really wanted to do Crash because he had an idea he was mildly obsessed with: he felt like a car crash is sexual. Two bodies colliding, complete with various forms of penetration. He wanted photography of crashed cars and attempted to get it to look vaginal and bulbous. Seen below are pictures Jay took when he wandered around a junk yard. For the first attempt, Howard Shore asked if they could tone down the vagina and maybe remove some of the labia, but that actually ended up making it look more vaginal. The backup idea ended up being Rob’s favorite – two cars 69ing, but in the end they went with someone Shore was already comfortable with based on his work on Naked Lunch: Rich Kelly. Even that needed tweaking, as it had a different back – the severed head was deemed too on-the-nose at first.

10The first time you meet Terrence Malick, he’ll ask you to call him Terry. This was just one of the bits of information gleaned during the “Director involvement” segment of the presentation. They began with Richard Linklater and the back and forth on his Everybody Wants Some!!! poster – he wanted to steer away from baseball aspect, so they switched to a record box, but Linklater wanted to see one more concept – they didn’t feel like the main character was entering the world enough. So they put him in the middle of a vibrant party, which worked better. As far as Terry, Jared Muralt was originally hired for The Thin Red Line. Terry is very visual and wants something taken to final for him to really see and make a decision, so it ended up being too tough finding the right balance with Jared’s looser style. Speaking of Jared Muralt, I’m about to ruin his Godzilla print for you, so don’t read the next bit if you own it. The poster was turned in, approved, printed, released, and sold out before anyone pointed out that the poster takes place in New York’s central park, which never once appears in the movie.

11Rich Kelly said for every poster he’s made, he’s done about 20 sketches before settling on one.

12Florian Bertmer hid a picture of Rob Jones in a gutter of one of his posters because he was being irritating.
When they obtained the license for The Incal, they hired Florian Bertmer since he loves Alejandro Jodorowsky (and has already done 2 Jodo posters in the past). After his first attempt, paying homage to his favorite panel in the comic, Rob told him it was too similar and to try something different. So in the final version, Bertmer drew him in the gutter.

13Olly Moss has done a Swiss Army Man poster – no one knows if it will get released (but, knowing that Mondo now has a great relationship with distributor A24, one can hope).

14For nearly every project, Rob asks if Anne Benjamin can do it, including a Three Stooges poster. For the development of her Wizard of Oz poster, it went through a few iterations: first, the Wizard was too much, and the direction was to focus more on Judy Garland, which maybe ended up as too much, until they finally settled on the happy medium of the final. Rob says it’s his favorite depiction of a flying monkey.

15Boneface did a Predator / Lion King mashup. When they asked him to do Predator, he went through a few designs, and the last one you’ll see actually had a file name called “Lion King.”

16Info-Rama might have been a much more violent gallery show. Matt Taylor was a strong presence in the Info-Rama gallery show with Mondo, but there were a few things that never came to fruition. Fight Club was going to be a poster in the same vein of an Ikea catalogue, but the rules were too few and repetitive to work well on the overall design. Rhys Cooper also was going to do a Fight Club poster: Rob liked it because it reminded him of The Misfits. Matt was also going to do a Rise of the Planet of the Apes poster for the show, but no one was really feeling it, and Mitch suggested he try a Jurassic Park poster instead. Lastly, the Jaws variant originally featured all dead people. Good stuff.

17 Martin Ansin is working on a lot of apparently huge, very cool stuff, and he will be busy with it until 2018.

18Mondo has worked on two Guardians of the Galaxy posters that you probably weren’t aware of. One was translating Rockin Jelly Bean’s Japanese magazine cover into a poster. They were trying hard to make it work, but the studio was coming back with likeness notes, and it ended up being too many notes for something that was already completed. Coke Navarro also worked on a poster: Mitch liked the idea and felt like the final drawing could be great, but there were too many small issues: for example, Rob didn’t like the mask, as the scene is depicted as something thats supposed to be classically romantic but the mask blocks that.

19Mondo was planning on releasing a Jessica Jones poster for this year’s MondoCon. Craig Drake created the poster and it went all the way to final. Even though there was precedent for Mondo doing Marvel characters in this style, the studio wanted to steer away from repeating the Nagel style.

20There will likely be another House Party show next year. This is the show where every piece was an original from a Mondo artist, and they all cost $200.

21You missed out on a ton of potentially amazing Game of Thrones merchandise. Mondo has done a few SteelBooks (speaking of which, there’s been a bit of a delay because they had a lot built up but released it all too quickly, so they just ran out of stuff to release. There’s more coming soon!). HBO wanted them to do Game of Thrones SteelBooks, and the show runners wanted to see stuff from three different artists. Francesco Francavilla went with the concept of building stuff out of weaponry, like the Iron Throne. Ken Taylor went traditional with a ton of hyper=detailed character posters. Martin Ansin made dynamic accompaniments to his original Game of Thrones poster.

All of these got all the way through approvals with a lot of excitement until the very tip top: one person that will remain nameless didn’t want any of it to be illustrated, so the studio instead went with photos. These weren’t just going to be for SteelBooks, but there was potential to do matching posters.

22Tom Cruise’s sister does his likeness rights, and she doesn’t like too much shadow on his face. Ken Taylor was going to tackle Mission: Impossible. The set pieces and stunts are what make those movies stand out from each other, but putting all of them in a compositionally sound image was too hard, so Ken decided to focus on characters. Mitch warned him not to put too many Tom Cruises in it, and Ken agreed, but then ended up including a ton of Tom Cruises. When it got to likenesses, everyone cleared except for Tom. The issue was too much shadow on Tom’s face, but when they took it all away he looked like a mannequin. They brought Jason Edmiston in to work on the light and shadow, which Ken imitated, but it still got rejected. Mitch noted that it can be really challenging to draw someone when you normally remember them at a different age than they are now – if they’re older and you draw them how they really look, it almost seems incorrect when you look at the illustration due to your memory.

23The audience for this panel didn’t like the idea of a “space butthole.” The Audience Choice section of the panel is where the audience gets to art-direct a poster and pick which version becomes final. This years was Jock tackling The Empire Stricks Back, continuing his Star Wars trilogy series. From Jock’s perspective, Stout and Moss have done their own things, so he wanted to try something different: taking something everyone knows from the movies and showing it from a unique point of view. Rob called the first option a space butthole, which stuck with the audience and ended up not being chosen.

24Mondo will be doing a Nickelodeon show in December, and there will be a Legend of Korra piece there.

Photo credit: Jon Partridge

*Note: Eric said there are multiple pin guys, so I guess this list is actually 23 things.

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the author

David works for a huge tech company at the moment, does freelance video editing on the side, tries to make films, and occasionally spends his time helping this website run. He lives in Austin, Texas, and is a co-founder of Cinapse. His film philosophy is that there is no difference between "high" art and "low" art, cerebral art house films and Fast Five both bring things to the table and have merit in their own right. Some favorite directors in no particular order: Paul Thomas Anderson, Kubrick, Spielberg, Tarantino, Edgar Wright, John Carpenter, Ridley Scott. Twitter: @daviddelgadoh

  • Aniv Das

    How did you learn about #6, I asked the question and they answered with a Yes about studio Ghibli steelbooks 😛