Years from now, when MondoCon 2020 has come and gone, we'll look back at MondoCon 2015 as the year where MondoCon found its footing. It's only the second year of the convention's existence, but in that brief window between years one and two, the good folks behind the Con implemented a number of key changes that elevated the event's status from "pretty cool" to "must-attend".
Chief among these changes: expanding the Con itself from a single location (the Marchesa Hall and Theater) to two locations (the Marchesa, plus a neighboring Holiday Inn convention center). Again and again, Con attendees told me that this one change had made all the difference, and I absolutely agree. Year one felt cramped and, quite frankly, somewhat frantic, with people attempting to mad-dash it through the con's space through crowds that were sometimes shoulder-to-shoulder. The decision to expland is a testament to Mondo's willingness to listen to feedback, one that fans would do well to remember the next time they're feeling left out of Mondo's decision-making process.
Beyond expanding into a second location, MondoCon also offered more variety. Things kicked off Friday with an amazing concert by Fabio Frizzi (read my report here). On Saturday, the Con began in earnest, and attendees were delighted to find that this year's poster lineup was deeper and, yes, less Iron Giant-focused. A greater number of food trucks, scattered around both locations, were available for everyone looking to grab some food, a beer, or a smoothie (the smoothie truck actually had a shaded rooftop patio, which was one of the cooler things I saw at the Con). The specialty screenings held each night (The Goonies and Tim Burton's Batman on night one, John Carpenter's original Halloween on night two) each came with a fantastic, highly-coveted poster. Across the board, MondoCon 2015 was an improvement in every way.
We've looked at a few of the prints released at the Con earlier in the week. Here's a few more.
Dracula by Jonathan Burton
The Rocketeer by Martin Ansin
Mulholland Drive by Kevin Tong
MondoCon 2015 Gig Poster by The Dude Designs
This year also saw the return of panels, and this year there was both a greater variety to the panels and - if we're being frank - the panels were, on the whole, more interesting. Jock got his own one-on-one panel to discuss his art and career, the VACVVM gang (an off-shoot of Mondo that produces high-quality art prints, rather than movie posters) was brought out to discuss the work they've been doing, the great William Stout was given a career retrospective, and a number of specialty screenings (each with a poster attached) were held.
As was the case last year, the most popular panel had to be Sunday's "Mondo Talk" panel, wherein Mondo's higher-ups came out onstage and peeled back the curtain on the company's process and a number of prints that, for various reasons, never made it all the way through production. Seeing these coulda-been prints is always a pleasure, and this year the images they shared were...well, both exciting and depressing. Take Martin Ansin's Skyfall: the company behind the license wasn't feeling what Martin came up with, but - as you can see - the concept would've made for a unique Bond piece.
Skyfall concept by Martin Ansin
The Goonies (work-in-progress) by Tyler Stout
Unused The Graduate concepts by Tomer Hanuka
Unused Jaws concept by Nicolas Delort
Unused Nightcrawler concept (inspired by Blow-Up) by Jay Shaw
Unused Shovel Knight concept by Jason Edmiston
Speaking of Jason Edmiston, here he is in his MondoCon booth. Hard to tell what's going on in this picture, but my assumption is that Edmiston's being unfailingly polite and patient with the 900th person to interact with him that day. Edmiston's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet in Poster World, a real mensch, and - as was the case last year - his booth proved to be one of MondoCon 2015's biggest draws. Just look at all the stuff he had on hand!
This is one of MondoCon's greatest pleasures, by the way: row after row of booths, each one helmed by one of Mondo's best artists or associates, and each one of them happy to interact with fans. Love Mike Mitchell's stuff? Get in line, grab a print, and shake the man's hand. Like what Jock does? Tell him all about it when you're picking up that poster you've been looking for. Are you a big Daniel Danger fan? Stop by his booth and shoot the shit with him about Corrina, Corrina. I know I did.
And here's Mike Mitchell (with a Furiosa cameo).
Jock, creator of the iconic Joker image seen over his right shoulder.
Grammy Award-winning artist and Mondo head honcho Rob Jones, looking dapper as ever.
All in all, I was deeply impressed with the improvements that Mondo made between MondoCon's first and second year in existence. Expanding the space really made all the difference; the entire tone of the event was changed (year one often felt frantic and borderline chaotic; year two felt chill and well-organized, all the way through). Everyone I spoke with at the Con seemed to be having a great time, and was happy with the variety that'd been added to the poster lineup, the foodtrucks, the booths, the panels - everything, really. MondoCon 1 was pretty cool, but MondoCon 2015 felt like the event finding its feet. If you can get to Austin for MondoCon 2016, I highly recommend it.
Special thanks to the folks at Mondo, Fons PR, and everyone else I spoke to during MondoCon 2015. You guys nailed it.