Mondo’s CEO Justin Ishmael Talks Future Gallery Shows, Drew Struzan’s DARK TOWER, HBO, Alex Ross, Olly Moss’ SPIRITED AWAY, Future Projects, and More

     April 9, 2013


As most of you know, everyone at Collider are huge fans of Mondo.  It seems like every time they put out a limited screenprint that blows us away, a short time later, they do it again.  This probably explains their ever growing fan base, and why their posters sell out in minutes.  For more on Mondo, here’s our previous coverage.  You can also check out everything they’ve released on their website.  Be warned: some of their older posters are rare and expensive.

A few days ago, I got on the phone with Mondo CEO Justin Ishmael.  During our hour long conversation, we talked about a wide variety of subjects.  Hit the jump if you’re curious about upcoming gallery shows, if they’re going to be at Comic-Con, the status of Drew Struzan‘s Dark Tower print, Olly MossSpirited Away, future Mondo Mystery Movies, new licenses, if they’ll being doing more HBO prints, how they decide on the size of a print run, if Aaron Horkey will do more Lord of the Rings prints, and so much more.

Before going any further, a HUGE thank you to Justin for giving me so much of his time.  Also, a big thank you to everyone on Facebook and the people that emailed me with specific questions.  I tried to work in everything that people sent in.

army-of-darkness-mondo-posterAnd while I strongly recommend reading the full interview, I also know a lot of you just want to know the highlights.  Here’s a few of them followed by the full conversation

  • Mondo does not have confirmation for this year’s Comic-Con.  They definitely want to attend, but they haven’t been told if they’ll have a booth.
  • The recent Randy Ortiz Army of Darkness print is not a screening exclusive.  Copies will eventually be released online.
  • For fans of Evil Dead, Justin says, “We have some other Evil Dead-esque stuff coming, and one of them is not a poster.”
  • They’re aiming to eventually release a new soundtrack on vinyl once a month.  The reason for the gap between recent releases was “to kind of slow down and get some records in front of us so we could actually have more of a steady stream of records coming out.  That’s why there was the big gap between The Beyond and Deadly Spawn so we could actually work on it and do it right since we decided after the first two were successes that we were going to actually go for it.”
  • They have a “Mondo vault” where they have a copy of everything since early 2009.
  • Some of the reasons why Mondo hasn’t done video games is Japanese companies are very strict with licensing, and they want their artists to be able to do their own thing.
  • Martin Ansin’s recent Taxi Driver print came really close to not happening.
  • Mondo-Martin-Ansin-Taxi-DriverThe Taxi Driver print was originally going to be part of a Mystery Movie in NYC, but that changed after construction was pushed back.
  • They’re like to do more with Bryan Lee O’Malley.
  • Justin admits they’ve talked to Alex Ross about doing a poster (I would love for this to happen.  Please make this happen).
  • Says if everything goes right, we’ll finally be getting the Drew Struzan’s Dark Tower print this year.  If they can make it work, they would release it at Comic-Con this summer and have Struzan there to sign the posters.
  • He also says we could see the Olly Moss Spirited Away at Comic-Con (if they get in).
  • They met with Eon Productions about doing James Bond but since the company rarely licenses Bond, we shouldn’t expect it anytime soon.  However, Justin says, “I would love to do a James Bond series.”
  • Don’t expect more Pixar or Disney prints in the near future.
  • They aren’t in talks with HBO right now about doing any other shows like The Sopranos or The Wire.
  • They’d love to do an international Mondo Mystery Movie, but right now they’re slowing it down.
  • They’re aiming to do a gallery show every month.
  • Mondo-Lord-of-the-Rings-Aaron-Horkey-variantThey’d love for Aaron Horkey to do more Lord of the Rings prints.
  • While they did metal and wood Tyler Stout prints at the recent gallery show, don’t expect to see many other artists use those materials.
  • He wouldn’t reveal what big summer movies they were working on.
  • While many asked me if Mondo might hold back some prints from a gallery show to make sure some made it online, it doesn’t sound like they’re going to make any changes to the way they do things right now.  This means if it sells out at the gallery, nothing will be saved for an online drop.
  • Regarding future events, Justin says after the Mike Mitchell show they’ve got two more shows.  He also said:

“We’re going to have some more themed group shows that are going to be fun later this year.  We’re going to have more licenses coming up.  We signed some larger deals.  I have an idea for a larger scale Mystery Movie that I’ve been talking about for well over a year with people.  We’re trying to figure out what we can do with it.  If everything goes right, we’ll be at Comic-Con.  We’ll have the Mystery Movie.  We’ll have more or less a show mark at the gallery.  It’s solo shows, group shows, and then, maybe some more comic book covers and stuff this year too.”

(I’m very intrigued about the comic book covers…)

Here’s the full interview.  Let me know how I did in the comments.

justin-ishmael-mondoSteve: How are you doing today?

JUSTIN ISHMAEL: Doing good, actually fishing right now, kind of.  I was just on a four-wheeler, riding around on the street.  My parents live in the country, so we’ve just been relaxing after working on the Army of Darkness show here in Kansas City. 

How did that end up going?

ISHMAEL: Great.  The tickets sold out super, super fast and then the actual show itself – I had asked them to do it in 35mm and it’s like an old movie palace so they have huge theaters, but a lot of them are digital so I asked them if we could do it in a 35mm theater.  It was about 150 seats or so, so we had to go smaller but it was for a reason.  So we programmed trailers and snipes and stuff on it.  A lot of stuff obviously you can’t do with digital.  Everyone was loving it.  I saw on Twitter, people were like, “I haven’t seen it on 35mm before, it was so cool.”  So yeah, everything went great. 

I’m super looking forward to coming back and doing it, maybe in May.  I’m coming back out for the Spectrum convention, and every time I come out I like to do something at the theater, Mondo-wise.  We’ll see if we have anything that’s worthy of having a screening for.  Like I said, I like coming out here.  My parents live like 15 minutes away in the middle of nowhere.  It’s almost like a vacation for work. 

From what I understand, the Army of Darkness print by Randy Ortiz is not a screening exclusive.  So for fans, will there be like an online drop at some point?

ISHMAEL: Yeah, we have some other Evil Dead-esque stuff coming, so we’ll be releasing all of it.  We’re trying to do like one big Evil Dead type of release thing.  So that will be coming probably in April sometime.  It’s nothing with the new movie so I don’t want to get people’s hopes up, but we’re going to do that later in April.  You’re right, it wasn’t a screening-exclusive thing.  We did this with The Goonies and we do it with lots of screenings in Austin and L.A., too, where it’s just like a fun thing to watch a movie and celebrate.  The extras we’ll have online.  We’ll do our normal thing: we’ll let everybody know when it’s coming.  There won’t be any surprises or anything like that. 

army-of-darkness-mondo-posterDo you want to tease any of the artists you have coming for your Evil Dead prints?

ISHMAEL: It’s not Evil Dead, there’s two things, not counting the Army of Darkness poster, that will be coming out in the release and one of them is not a poster. 


ISHMAEL: Yeah, I had an idea for something quite a while back and we’ve been working on it, coming up with – Rob would have an idea and Richard would have a new idea for it, and they just kind of added onto it.  I would say what artist helped us on it, but then the fans would probably be emailing and bugging, asking what it was.  So I’m just not going to bring it up, I’ll just leave it at that: we have three things coming, two a poster and one is not. 

Obviously the Ken Taylor/Tyler Stout show was a huge success.  You know, people basically buying posters at 3:00 in the morning.  What was it like for you guys on the inside and what surprised you the most about the show?

ISHMAEL: It was very exciting for us, just trying to think, everybody kind of had a different look at it, because Tyler and Ken were obviously talking to everybody.  I was there, I was rolling posters or whatever, but I know the guys were exhausted afterwards because they basically did it from 5:00 or 6:00pm until they got out at 4:00am, after they got done closing out of everything and cleaning up.  But yeah, it was nuts.  I couldn’t believe that we were there that long and we actually had conversations about cutting the line off at a certain point and saying like, “Okay, we’re going to cap it at 300 and then just call it good.”  But I kind of told those guys that if we had people waiting out since the Wednesday before, so we should just stick it out and do it and get everybody through.  We didn’t cap the line, but I think we had the gallery show set for like 7:00 to 11:00 – and then when 11:00 hit, there were still people trying to line up in line and that’s when we said, “Technically we’re closed, we can’t take anymore.”  And then we were there until 4:00am, so we were there for, like, another 5 hours after we “cut the line off”. 

So yeah, it was nuts.  I was so happy with the turn-out and it’s just one of those things where I think Ken and Tyler got to see it first-hand, how much how much people like this stuff and how much it means to them.  And it means a lot to Mondo to have people trust us and be excited enough for the things we do to wait until 3:00am.  And when you think about it, those people that were waiting and checking out at 3:30 in the morning, or whatever, it’s not like they just walked in, they were there for 6 hours or something.  I know a lot of those people that came at that point were coming out when the gallery opened, and they say the line way down the street and they’re like, “Well, I guess I’m getting in line,” and then they stayed there all day, so it’s crazy.  We were talking about it and trying to figure out, “Hey, have done that before, have we ever camped out?  I’ve waited a long time for stuff in line, but I’ve never brought a sleeping bag and slept out somewhere for something the next day.  So it’s just crazy, it’s so awesome that they would do that for us, and I hope we can continue to do things that matter and are special like that, and keep doing more and more cool things for people.  I love seeing people’s responses and you know we actually in Kansas City, at the show – there were people there that were like, “Yeah man, I flew down for the Kansas City show, totally worth it.”  Or for the Taylor/Tyler show.  So it’s awesome to be able to travel places and there’s people flying in for stuff in Austin that don’t regret it at all. 

What did you possibly hear from the fans, or hear from you guys yourselves, about the gallery shows you’ve done, maybe any changes for the future in terms something you want to implement down the road for a future gallery show that people have brought up during the ones you’ve done thus far.

ISHMAEL: I can’t really think of anything glaring that we were doing that can be changed.  I mean honestly for website drops, people always say stuff like, “get a better server” or “hold it in your cart till”, you know that kind of thing, but with the gallery shows I don’t really think there is a lot of commentary on things we can better.  I honestly don’t think we had one complaint at the Ken Taylor/Tyler Stout show.  You know, like we talked about a second ago: people were there until 3:00 in the morning, 4:00 in the morning, whatever, and no one was complaining.  Not one person was like, “This is bullshit, I have to wait all day.”  I think when you get there and see this line down the street you just kind of know, and you know the people that are there are going to warrant that kind of reaction, that kind of turnout.  And if you’re going, you just kind of get it, you’re like, “Okay, yeah.”  I don’t think there’s anything at shows we can change.  There’s a line going in, and then now that we have the backyard built, you can go outside and just kind of hang out and talk to people and have your stuff.  That show is mostly, you know there is people looking around after they got the posters, and then there was a line.  But before, in the backyard – like when we had the opening at South by Southwest, in 2012 I guess, it was raining and there was cardboard all over the backyard because we were trying anything to not get mud everywhere.  So you really couldn’t really hang out, you just got your stuff and then left.  So at this one we set up tents and stuff just in case it rained and we have it all bricked out, stones on the ground so there’s no mud, so you can actually mingle and experience stuff. 

So there was a lot of stuff from the first show that we did that we tried to implement all through the last year to try and make it better.  And I think as of now – we redid the bathroom and tried to make that a little better, and we added the speaker system so we could listen to records and make it so it’s not like a tomb in there, like totally silent.  I mean it’s not silent because there’s people talking, but we can have music going now.  There’s little things like that that we did that would hopefully make the experience better, but as far as getting people in and out quicker, I don’t think there’s any way to do it.  It’s a limited space and we only have so many people to do it.  And even if we hire more people to go back there and work, there’s only so much room you can do stuff, so you’d just be bumping into each other anyway.  So it wouldn’t necessarily make anything faster. 

Mondo-Justin-Ishmael-Comic-ConSo yeah, I think it went super well.  If anybody has anything that they’re like, “Oh man, I was bummed about that,” I mean I would be happy to hear them out and talk to them about it and try to fix it.  But like I said, Mo and those guys, they’re the ones that receive the customer emails and they would’ve brought something up to me if it was a major issue.  I think it was a pretty solid night. 

Speaking of records, the Stout Drive LP sold out – I know you had some at the gallery show, but when you did the online drop, it sold out in like 30 minutes.  Is this something that you want to have happen in terms of future LP drops where they sell out fast like the posters, or are you okay with it lasting for a day or two…or three, where people have more of a chance, if you will?

ISHMAEL: So we’re going to be having Drive records in record stores and we’re also going to have – I guess I can talk about it now – I can tell you, but we’ll wait to release the art later, but we’re going to have a record store-day version of the Drive exclusive record-store thing as well.  So we had a pretty significant chunk of the records online, and with the stuff that was at the gallery we only had like a couple hundred set in, so it wasn’t like we sold a quarter or half of the run at the gallery show.  We sold a few, and then with that release online, the Friday after, that was incredible.  I think it was like 27 or 28 minutes and we sold our entire allotment that we sell direct online.  When we have Poltergeist that last over the weekend or Deadly Spawn that lasted five days or something, that’s fine with me because – actually Jessica and I were up in Lawrence at a record store and we were looking around for stuff and it’s such a new thing, I mean really and truly we’ve released, what, five records so far?  There’s a lot of people that don’t know about it yet so I think there’s still room for – I mean I don’t think, I definitely know there’s still room for people to learn about it. 

Mondo-Tyler-Stout-Drive-SoundtrackI feel like it’s definitely in its infancy, kind of like when we used to do posters.  Where people are like, “Aw man, I remember when I could – when the Tyler-style, or whatever, poster was on the site for two months and it was $30.”  And now those are $5,000 posters.  I’m crossing my fingers that it’s going to be that type of scenario where it’s going to take a little bit of time for soundtrack collectors and people that are buying records to kind of understand.  Because it’s not like an overnight thing, even though we have a lot of fans, it’s not like we do something and you’re totally into this world and you’re selling and you’re a giant record label.  We’re still super-small, so I’m totally fine with getting the word out and putting stuff in record stores, just kind of doing it slow.  I’m out in L.A.  a lot now and I go to Amoeba and dig through their stuff and buy older records.  Last time, I went out in February, they had six or seven Deadly Spawn records and when I went back two weeks ago they were all gone.  So they’re definitely selling and I think it’s cool for people to go in there and be like, “Oh, what’s this?” and then start to look at our back catalog and see like, “Oh wow, they did The Beyond, they did Maniac” and then kind of follow us from then and try to get the old stuff.  We’re numbering all the records, so we know specifically like “Mondo 001” is Maniac and “Mondo 002” is The Beyond.  It’s kind of like Criterion when they number their discs, you can know which one is which, so there is a record of all of that stuff. 

Well my next question about the records is: you’re very open about the addition sizes on posters, but as far as I know you guys haven’t released edition sizes on records.  Is that something you’re sort of holding back until it becomes a bigger thing and then you might start numbering them?

ISHMAEL: No, I don’t think we’re going to number records. 

I don’t mean number the records, I mean release like an edition size?

THEBEYONDALBUMISHMAEL: Oh yeah, I mean, we’re not going to reprint stuff, but there’s really no reason we haven’t done it.  I don’t know what we did, off the top of my head, but we’ll sit down and kind of say, “Okay, we’re going to do 2,000 records”, or something like that.  Then we’ll kind of slice that up into, “Okay, the record is going to get this many, we’re going to keep this many, we’re going to have this many for our archives or comps” or whatever.  I don’t think it’s a matter of like we’re hiding anything.  I just don’t really think it matters really as much as the poster thing.  It’s not like they’re signed by the artist or – I don’t think it’s we’re trying to super-push “these are super-limited, you got to buy them now” type of thing, which I don’t think we necessarily do with posters either, but it’s…I don’t know.  We’ve talked about it and we don’t think it’s like a super-necessary thing.  But I think like on Maniac it was like 500 or something, we had never done one so we were just kind of seeing what the market was like, and on The Beyond I think it was 800 or something, and Deadly Spawn was 1,000 or so, 1,500.  So yeah, it’s not like we’re doing 50,000 or something, I think it’s very conservative, the numbers we’re putting out there. 

So, yeah, I’m happy with the whole record label thus far and I think it’s going to continue to grow.  Rob Jones is kind of spearheading the art on this and working with whoever the artist is on each release, and they’re all super-awesome.  There’s not one that I’m like, “Oh, really?  This is just okay.”  They all like, “This is great, this is amazing.”  It’s fun working with the composers when applicable, obviously we’re not working with Jerry Goldsmith on Poltergeist, but on some of this stuff we have coming up we’re working directly with the people involved and they’re all pumped.  Everyone is like, “This is the greatest.  I can’t believe it, this is awesome.”   We’ll have something coming in April – we’ll have something for record store-day, a couple things, and then the idea is to get up to a point where we can have something each month coming out.  We’re not going to go on record and say: “Mondo – look for a record every month,” but that’s kind of our in-house goal, to have the schedule on track to where we can have something.  That was actually the problem, that’s why there was a big gap between Deadly Spawn and The Beyond, what that – it’s kind of annoying to us – I read comic books and All Star Batman and Robin or something… was super cool at fist and then they would go six months between issues, and then it just kind of got annoying.  I wasn’t as excited as I could have been, when you have to wait that long you don’t know when it’s coming.  So we decided to kind of slow down and get some records in front of us so we could actually have more of a steady stream of records coming out.  That’s why there was the big gap between The Beyond and Deadly Spawn so we could actually work on it and do it right since we decided after the first two were successes that we were going to actually go for it.


Mondo-GoT-Gallery-Space-2A few people asked me this on some of the boards, do you guys have a “Mondo Vault”, where you have a few copies of every one of the prints?  Do you have a place where you have one copy of everything?  What do you guys have?

ISHMAEL: Yeah, I won’t say where it is but it’s in Austin.  Yeah, it’s not one of everything, before I started, they didn’t keep anything.  So, when I started we kind of made a decision that we were going to keep everything.  We definitely have everything since early 2009.  We have a copy of each thing.  I want to say we have a copy of literally everything, whether it’s the little voucher things for shows, we have every postcard, we have pins and lanyards, anything that we put out like stickers.  I want to say, everything that we’ve ever done since 2009, we have one of each of those.

So some of the older Stouts, you guys don’t even have a copy of one?

ISHMAEL: I mean, personally, we do.  Like, Rob has one of everything, for sure.  And then I get one of everything.  I have a Tyler Stout thing, I have some of his older posters.  As far as the company, that was before me, so I didn’t have any control on what was saved and what wasn’t, you know?

A lot of people asked me about video game licenses and if you think that Mondo will be doing video game stuff?

ISHMAEL: I don’t know if we still have it or not but we had a Capcom license, and we did something for “Mega Man”, but it had to get approved through Japan and it didn’t get approved through Japan.  So we’re kind of questioning whether or not we want to go down that route because a lot of that does have to go through Japanese licensors and they’re very strict.  Normally, they don’t really like any interpretation on what they’ve done in the past.  And of course, that’s what we do.  We kind of do our own thing with it and let the artist work with their style, so I don’t know.  I’m getting into video games.  I don’t play a lot – not for not wanting to, it’s just that I don’t have a lot of time.  If I’m going to do something with my free time it’s watch a movie or read a comic book or something like that. 

Mondo-Richey-Beckett-Game-of-ThronesWe’ve definitely had offers in the past of doing stuff.  It’s mostly like, I don’t want to do something, and I think Mitch and Rob will also agree, because every time we get an offer we talk about it and decide what’s going to happen.  I don’t want to be that guy, and I don’t want to become company, where it’s just kind of “Hey, we’re doing whatever’s popular at the time, we’re doing that.  We’ll just make money on whatever kind of genre property, or nerd thing, or entertainment property is hot at the moment and let’s do that.”  We’ve always kind of been – the understanding was, we’ll do it if we’re a fan of it.  Like with Game of Thrones, if HBO would have came at us and said “Hey, do Game of Thrones” and we wouldn’t have liked the show, we wouldn’t have done the show, but we genuinely like Game of Thrones.  I don’t know, I don’t want to “be a poser” and do something.  I think fans are smart enough to where if we were going to do something for “World of Warcraft” and none of us had ever played “World of Wacraft” and we just do the Cliff Notes version and look online and read Wikipedia, “What’s popular?” and “What do the fans like?”, and then go try to just to make a buck, I think people are going to look at that and be like, “These guys have never played this game before.”  I hate that.  I see that with people all the time when they’re doing stuff that I like and I’m like, “These guys don’t care about this, it’s just a license that they got and they’re doing stuff with it.”  I think that’s one of the things that makes what we do fun and exciting to people, it’s because we are fans and the artists that we work with are fans of it.  What kind of got me excited about Mondo in the beginning, when I was living in Kansas City, was like, you see Tyler Stout’s The Thing poster and it’s just not like drawing Kurt Russell or this or that, it’s got the dog in it and it’s got the little barrel.  It’s actually stuff from the movie.  Some people will think it’s like a throwaway thing but he actually has all the stuff in it.  You can look at any of his posters, like Kill Bill, there’s a little syringe and there’s other tiny things added in where you can tell this is actually stuff he likes, that’s really cool.  But you know, getting off topic, I guess the answer is: We’re not totally against it but we actually have to be into it and know something deeper than just the top layer of it to do something.  I guess, everything we do, we want to make it good. 

I totally get it.  One of the things I think really made fans sad was seeing the concept of Martin Ansin’s Studio Ghibli print.  Obviously there must have been many other things along the way you guys have tried to make that fell apart or couldn’t get made for whatever reason.  Do you have a favorite thing that you guys worked on that came really close to getting made and ended up not getting made?

Mondo-Martin-Ansin-Taxi-DriverISHMAEL: Let me think, I think that was one of them for sure.  What else?  There was some Planet of the Apes stuff that was going to happen that didn’t end up happening.  What else was there?  Taxi Driver came really close to not happening but it ended up working, so I’m glad.  No joke, that was very closing to being one of the ones we could be talking about right now.  Actually, I think we’ve been super lucky on getting things through.  There’s definitely versions of things that we’ve done that haven’t….because you turn them in and someone doesn’t like the likeness of something, or you turn them in and the studio actually goes, “Oh, we thought we had this and we can’t use this or that” and things have to be changed.  I don’t think there’s anything mind-blowing that we tried to put out that hasn’t gotten approved or hasn’t gotten accepted.  Like I said, in this world it’s so difficult to do anything.  I feel super lucky that we’ve got as much stuff off the ground and out there as we have. 

Talk a little bit about the balance of low number runs versus the output of more prints, higher runs.  Basically, how do you balance what is the number, like say, doing 100 of an edition versus say 600 of an edition?  Where is the balance in your mind, in terms of where you guys want to go, because obviously the collectors want as low as possible but then you have a lot of new fans that obviously want to try to get something and when you put out 100 – sometimes when you put out something that’s an edition of 700 it’s still hard to get.  So can you sort of talk about where you guys are in terms of where do you balance the numbers?

ISHMAEL: There’s no formula.  Honestly, it just totally depends on the project.  For “X poster” the studio says you can’t make more than this, and on “Y poster” the artist doesn’t want to go over this certain amount of numbers, “On this one we can do as many as we want, but we just did this one so we can’t do that many.”  It all just matters on what it is.  Take something like We Buy Your Kids, they’re going to have 15 new posters, you know what I mean?  I don’t think it’s a wise decision to do runs of 500 on 15 posters for a movie like Deep Red or something.  You know what I mean?  It’s just kind of we’ve been doing it long enough to where there’s an infinite amount of factors we can look at.  What do we have coming up?  Did we just come off of a big week?  Did we just put out a poster of the same title not too long ago?  Has this artist worked with us in a long time?  What’s the artist’s fanbase?  There’s all this stuff to kind of look at.  I guess there’s no real answer to that question.  It all depends on, you know, whatever.

You had Bryan Lee O’Malley do Battle Royale, which is his first print with you guys.  Are you thinking about maybe doing any more “comic book guys” as artists?  For example; Alex Ross, Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, anybody like that, or with Bryan?

ISHMAEL: I would love to do more with Bryan, he’s awesome.  We met at New York Comic-Con and kind of stayed in touch and we know a lot of the same people.  We had fun on the trip.  I would love to – I know he’s super busy with stuff right now on his own projects.  Yeah, if something comes up in the future that he wants to do, he’s more than welcome to do it.  I loved working with him, he’s a super funny guy and obviously ultra-talented.  I’m a comic book fan so all of those guys are people that I like.  Obviously, we’re working with Francesco and Paolo Rivera, Jacques, you know there’s all these guys that are comic book guys, quote-on-quote.  So the answer is yes, if there’s someone that comes around in the comic book world that we think would work well then definitely yeah, for sure.  I go to a ton of comic book conventions so I’m always talking to these people.  I’ve never met Alex Ross or anything but you know we have definitely been in talks with him before. 

I would probably freak out if Alex Ross did something with you guys.

ISHMAEL: Yeah, I like his stuff a lot.  So, maybe if the right thing comes up in the future we would definitely do something with him.

A lot of people ask me this question.  Struzan Dark Tower status?

ISHMAEL: If everything goes right, it’s going to be this year. 

Is this one of these things where a lot of people have to approve?

ISHMAEL: No.  It’s honestly just finding time to do it. 

So, have you seen any conceptual stuff from him on it?

Mondo-Laurent-Durieux-JawsISHMAEL: Yeah, the thing that we’ll probably be doing is the thing from The Mist.  I mean, that is a Dark Tower poster.  It would be a very similar thing to what we’re doing with the Frankenstein where we’re taking an image that he’s done and then getting one of our artists on it and working with him to actually make it a poster because right now it’s just an image.  With Drew’s stuff I want to kind of event-ize it, and since we just did the stuff with him at the monsters gallery show we’re holding off.  If we can end up going to Comic-Con again this year I would love to do it at Comic-Con, and have him there, signing and stuff because he lives up in Pasadena – have him come down and do it.  Like I said, for anything of ours to happen, a million things have to fall into place.  It’s basically like the cliché, the stars have to align to make anything happen.  There’s a lot of planning that goes into it so if we can get all the things that need to happen, happen in time, definitely we would love to do it at Comic-Con this year. 

With Spielberg loving the recent Jaws print, can that help to get other Spielberg movies being done by you guys?

ISHMAEL: Yeah, most of the stuff is license-able and most of his output has been through Universal, and we have a really good relationship with them.  So, you know it’s not like I have Spielberg’s number and I can call him up and say, “Hey, we want to do something for 1941,” or something like that.  It has to all kind of go through the proper channels.  So, yes and no.  “No” in the fact that I can’t just get a hold of Spielberg, but ask him to do something but “yes” because it has to go through his offices and they have to sign off on everything and they have been into the things we’ve done so far, so I’m hoping they continue to enjoy it. 

Olly Moss might have revealed that he is working on his Spirited Away poster.  Do you get frustrated when artists sort of reveal that this is coming, or is it sort of like, you don’t really mind?

ISHMAEL: I like to keep things secret.  With Olly saying that he’s doing Spirited Away, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.  It’s not like it was a super secret anyways.  Everyone knows that he was working on a Ghibli series, which is kind of like, “Yeah he was working on a Ghibli series, he was doing Spirited Away.”  That’s not like a “stop the presses” type of thing, but if it we were working on a mystery movie for two years and someone let the cat out of the bag, that would be a bummer.  I told the story about the Taxi Driver poster, it was supposed to be a mystery movie when we opened up at the Manhattan Theater in New York and then it wasn’t necessarily that someone found out we were doing Taxi Driver, it was that someone found out that The Alamo was opening up in Manhattan and then leaked it.  It all started moving so fast, construction got pushed back with them, and we needed to get the poster out.  So, we decided just to do it in Austin. 

Sometimes when people say things – just to make it totally clear, this isn’t directed at Olly, I’m just saying in general terms – if people try to get a scoop and they reveal something that they’ve heard or someone talked to them in confidence about, sometimes it’s not as cool.  It’s a spoiler, it’s the same thing with like a movie.  If you don’t want to know what’s going to happen after a Marvel property stinger after the credits, don’t read the story.  I hate it when people are posting the bootleg images on it and you see what’s going to happen and it’s spoiled for you.  I think it’s a very similar thing to where we try to make these things surprising and basically make people have a good time.  A lot of these things that we do, we have a plan on how to release them, we’re working with the Fons’, our PR team, we’re working with someone else to kind of make it as big and a happy thing for people.  Olly didn’t do anything wrong, but I do like it when we can work clandestinely with someone on something and then kind of just surprise people with it.  We got some stuff that we’ve been working on for well over a year, that’s coming out, fingers crossed, sometime in April.  This is one of those things that I think people are going to be like, “Wow! We can tell you’ve been putting in work on this thing.”  That’s going to be fun, to unveil all of it at once and say, “Here you go! Hope you guys enjoy! We’ve sure been very anxious to release it to show you guys that we’ve been waiting for the right time.”  I’m hoping that in the future we can keep doing such things and making them fun and surprising, which is what we’ve done kind of to get to this point. 

Last summer at Comic-Con you had a Ghibli from Moss.  Do you envision this year’s Comic-Con where we could see Spirited Away?

ISHMAEL: If we get to go to Comic-Con, yeah.  I don’t know what’s going to happen with that yet.  We haven’t gotten the green light that we’re in yet.  I’m crossing my fingers every day that we hear back that we got a booth.

At Comic-Con last year you guys dropped a ton of pints throughout the day, every thee hours you would drop one, New York Comic-Con and WonderCon you would open up first thing in the morning and you would have everything, do you envision future Cons doing stuff like that where you’re dropping everything when doors open or do you prefer to drop one thing, wait a few hours and drop another thing?

ISHMAEL: If it was a perfect world and we could do whatever we want we would do it like we did in San Diego where are releasing things throughout the day and one of the reasons we did that last year was because we had signings a lot.  I would say 75% of the things we did we had the artist thee signing it.  If everything happens correctly we will have more people signing this year as well.  I love Comic-Con, I love San Diego, I want to do things there, I was going before the Mondo stuff.  I think there’s a lot of people where that’s the fun thing at the convention to meet their favorite artist and get something cool.  I think if we get in were going to talk about what we want to do, to where it might be a mixture where in the morning we have some new stuff that gets released and throughout the day well have signings.  I don’t know if it will be at the booth, I don’t know if it’s going to be upstairs in the signing area o something.  I honestly don’t know I think were going to have an internal conversation about the way we release stuff in the future if we get a booth this year.  I don’t know.


A lot of people are wondering about James Bond.  Is that something you guys have gone after?  Is that something you would love to get?  What’s the story with Bond?

ISHMAEL: It’s a very similar thing to Ghibli, where throw that license around very often, especially with the posters.  Obviously they have amazing posters and they’re very proud of those.  We had a meeting with Eon Productions and we kind of talked about it.  We were friendly with each other, so I don’t know.  I would love to do a James Bond series.  If that happens in the future…  basically the thing is they don’t license that stuff out. 

Yeah, I’ve heard that from other people.

Mondo-Dave-Peterson-BraveISHMAEL: We’ll see if that changes down the road.  Who knows, things open up.  It could next week and they’re like, “Hey, you’re doing it now!” Who knows.  I have no idea. 

You guys were able to Brave.  What is the story with possibly being able to do more Pixar?

ISHMAEL: I don’t know.  It wasn’t like, hey, we’re signing a contract where we’re doing many more than Brave.  It was just we got to do Brave.  It’s as simple as that.  I don’t think it’s an open invitation to do The Incredibles or anything like that.  I don’t think there was anything behind us in doing that that’s going to be of interest to anybody else.

You also did Wreck-It-Ralph.  Is there a possibility of doing more Disney stuff, with live action and animation?

ISHMAEL: I would say not right now.  It’s the kind of thing where it’s never say never.  Maybe down the road.  We never thought we’d get Disney in the first place, and we did.  I would say not any time soon, but who knows.  Maybe in five years or something. 

You guys did a very successful Game of Thrones series.  Obviously you have a relationship with HBO.  Is there a possibility of ever doing anything for The Sopranos or especially The Wire?

ISHMAEL: I’m not sure.  As of right now, no.  There’s really no talk with HBO about doing anything with any of those older titles.  Not right now, I guess.

A few people from international, from other countries, asked me to ask is there any chance of an international Mondo Mystery Movie?

ISHMAEL: Yeah, I would love to do one.  I would like to slow it down, and I think you can definitely see that.  The first year of the Mondo Mystery Movie that existed was nine whatever.  Actually that’s not true.  Well, it might be.  I think we did several the first year, and then last year I think we did one.  And this year we haven’t done anything yet, so the idea is to kind of slow it down.  When we do them, we could try to make them Dawn of the Dead-style where it’s more than just the theater-going experience.  They’re super hard.  There’s all of the stuff that we have to do normally, the posters and all the records and other things, and then we also have to plan.  Really and truly the Dawn of the Dead event was a full scale concert or movie.  There was lighting, there was special effects, there was production.  As far as people filming, we had to handle talent.  There was a bus trick at the beginning, we had to make sure people were wristbanded, and then get them back on the bus.  There’s so much to do, that we’re going to have a super limited staff and resources because we’re all so busy lately.  I want to kind of slow it down and try to do bigger scale events.  Yeah, definitely, we would love to do something in Japan, or London, or wherever.  It just has to kind of make sense.  Obviously doing something in Austin is easier because we can go down the street and check out stuff, and in London everything just becomes infinitely more difficult.  The answer is yeah, we would love to do something out of the country. 

How many gallery shows do you guys want to have in the Mondo Gallery in a typical year?  Have you guys talked about, we want to do four shows a year, have one a month?  Have you guys had that conversation?

ISHMAEL: Yeah, we have everything planned out for 2013.  It’s kind of like, some shows are going to work longer than the others.  Obviously the Game of Thrones thing lasted basically for a weekend.  We have to have them more or less trying for three-four weeks.  Ballpark, one a month is what we’re aiming to do.  We want to have a full schedule.  The idea is to take July off because off Comic-Con.  The rest of the months we’re definitely planning on doing events there. 

A lot of people asked me about Aaron Horkey and Lord of the Rings prints.  Any status on that?

ISHMAEL: I have no idea.  He just got done doing his Game of Thrones posters, so we kind of take those one at a time with him.  I would love for Aaron to do more in the future, but you know, we’ll just have to wait and see if he wants to, A, and B, when that is. 

A few people asked me about property rights.  Do you guys sign on for a project, or when you get the rights for a property, do you get it for one year?  Is each property a little different?  And also, when you’re signing on for a license, for likeness rights, are some easier to get than others?

ISHMAEL: Yes on both.  Everything is totally dependent on the thing.  What studio you’re working with, and who’s involved, and what they’ve done, when they made the movie, what rights they’ve retained.  It’s like a long, boring process.  I guess yes to both of those. 

A lot of people wanted to know, and this also comes from me: Martin Ansin.  Obviously the Taxi Driver print is fucking amazing.  Can we look forward to a lot more for Ansin this year?

ISHMAEL: I sure hope so.  He’s one of my favorite guys to work with.  Even talking we have fun.  A while back we would talk about different sci-fi authors we like, different movies, this and that sort of thing.  Working with him or just shooting the shit with him.  I would have Martin do every poster if we could.  For sure. 

You guys did metal prints with Stout.  You’ve done some wood.  The metal’s very limited, sold out very fast.  Do you envision doing more metal stuff later this year?  More stuff on wood?  Or is that really special occasion and stuff?

ISHMAEL: It’s special occasion stuff.  I have no interest in doing…  when I say I, I mean we.  We have no interest in doing it just to do it so we can sell it for more, to make it limited.  Tyler said he had a good idea for doing it on the metal.  I think it came out really well.  We haven’t done one for a while.  I don’t think it’s going going to be, “Hey, we’re going to be doing this Army of Darkness poster.  Look forward to five different versions on different materials just because we can do it.”  I guess the answer is no.  No I guess the answer is yes, if something comes up where it makes sense to do it on metal, we definitely will, but don’t expect a Rear Window metal variant poster or something, or on wood.  That’s not going to exist.

You guys do WonderCon, New York Comic-Con, hopefully San Diego.  Do you envision getting into more conventions, or do you want to keep it at a certain number per year?

ISHMAEL: Just because we do a convention one year doesn’t mean that we’ll go back the next year.  It’s all about what we have going on.  Last year we were going to be at WonderCon, and then we decided – you have to sign up for those things way in advance so we had a booth there, and we got overwhelmed with the opening of the gallery, and we couldn’t make it.  It all depends on the schedule and what we’re doing at the time.  If it doesn’t make sense for us to go to this convention because there’s something right around the corner.  I don’t think it’s the same just because we’ve done some of the major conventions that we’re going to be going on a convention circuit.  I guess the answer is no.  Just because we were at New York last year doesn’t mean we’re going to be at New York this year.  We have to decide if we can make it happen or not with the schedule.

man-of-steel-posterThere are some massive movies coming out this year, from Star Trek, Man of Steel, Pacific Rim, all that kind of stuff.  Can fans look forward to getting some Mondo prints for some of these bigger summer movies?

ISHMAEL: I would love to.  We just have to wait and see.  I can’t confirm or deny. 

As a fan, I really want to see Superman stuff.  There, I said it, deal.

ISHMAEL: Yeah, me too.

That’s a priority one for me.  A bunch of people asked me, I know you guys have been really busy, but a lot of people wanted to know about the Oscar prints, and the shipping of the Oscar prints.  This is definitely something that came up on a lot of the places I asked for questions.  About not getting them, or some people haven’t gotten anything yet that they ordered.  Is that something you’re sort of aware of, or is it that something that you have so many prints that you guys did, and with the convention and everything else, that things just got hectic?

ISHMAEL: The thing is, if you want to know the status of an order, it’s probably not the best idea to ask on the forum or to ask on Twitter.  You can email the store at and we’re very open with the shipping schedules, and we’ll just straight up tell you.  We don’t hide anything and we even started a thing on the blog, the Now Shipping thing, where we take physical photos, and if it’s not on hand now, we’ll show you what it looks like and it’s shipping now.  The guys are super quick when they get it in hand to ship it.  Just kind of watch the blog.  Follow, we have two, @mondonews which the one I kind of monitor personally, and that’s like the release one whee we put stuff on sale, and @mondogalleries is more gallery specific things like, “Hey, we’re shipping out this poster.”  It’s more for like, localized stuff, more informative things like that.  Just email the store. 

The reason the Oscar things are taking so long, was a lot of those ran up to the wire with getting them approved.  By that point we had dozens of posters being printed for WonderCon and Games of Thrones and Tyler’s show.  It’s not like we’re purposely sitting on the posters.  It was just the order they got put in the print queue and what needed to be in, because we had actual live event type things.  It’s no disrespect to anybody that ordered the Oscar poster.  I want to say like 90% of them are in, and are being shipped.  The absolute best thing to take away from that question is just to email Mo, or JB, or Eric, any of those guys, and they will gladly tell you the situation. 

Mondo-Tyler-Stout-Reservoir-Dogs-RegAnother thing people asked me about was, obviously things sell out pretty quick, so sometimes, let’s take whatever poster like Reservoir Dogs, sells out and there’s a few copies that pop up at WonderCon for people to buy, like a flat file of flat stock sale, I don’t know what the proper term is for that.  How exactly does that work, because a lot of people were asking basically when it says sold out, they think it’s sold out, so do you guys so do you guys like say pull like 10 or 20 copies in case things get damaged and then once it’s reached, everyone has their posters?  That’s when it sort of can be picked up like when you sort of do a surprise drop like that?  People really wanted to know.

ISHMAEL: It’s not like we’re holding posters, or its selling flow or we’re stopping it from selling.  If it says sold out it is sold out.  It’s funny you do we have a vault somewhere?  The answer is yes.  We do and so when you’re saying an addition of 300, we’re not putting all 300 of those up for sale.  It may be 300 that are made, but we are holding back 20 for the studio and 50 for the artist.  There’s things we hold back for different reasons, and one of them is damages, because we’ve been doing it long enough to where it’s like, “Okay “X amount” are probably going to get dented or something by the post office.”  We hate it when the answer is, “Sorry, here’s a refund,” so we hold back a certain amount for that person who may get something damaged in the mail.  Or sometimes we hold back – and when you’re asking the question I think for people that weren’t at WonderCon that may think, “Oh, they had a whole other edition of Reservoir Dogs,” it was maybe three or four posters for Reservoir Dogs.  You know what I mean?  It wasn’t like we had 75 or 100 posters.  We had a giant 6-inch stack of things we’re selling.  It is very much the kind of damage stuff, none of these were damaged but the ones we hold back for potential damages in the mail.  And then also we have its cool you said the Spielberg thing, for instance.  We have a lot of people emailing: directors, actors, producers, special effects guys, we have a lot of people that actually work on these movies emailing and asking for specific posters.  So we’ll definitely hold back a lot.  It’s a mixture of things.  If one gets damaged we’ll send one of that allotment for that.  If someone emails and asks, we’ll send posters to that guy or this guy.  And after a certain amount of time goes by, and there is an event like indie comic con or WonderCon or something like that, where there are a lot of fans there that you know, maybe didn’t get a poster or something, we will at least make it a special occasion for them. 

Mondo-Tyler-Stout-Drive-RegThis is a question for me.  You guys drew at least 2 posters at the gallery for Tyler Stout’s Drive.  There was a regular and a variant.  Obviously Tyler Stout, with the Drive artwork, I know the behind-the-scenes story about how he did a lot of art and blah blah blah, and you wanted to make sure it all got used.  But do you ever envision a time in the future where an artist might do 2 different editions, like Tyler did for Drive where you would actually release it in the future, like you submit some concept stuff and you love them both, and you’re like “Let’s do both posters.”  Is that just a really special occasion?

ISHMAEL: We have people do that all the time.  Phantom City Creatuve did it with Lost Boys.  We had two totally different posters for that for that title, and it was because of that.  They send in 8 comps, But we definitely do that.  Sometimes it’ll be something like 2 or 3, so we definitely want to do more than just the one.  We can’t decide.  We ask, “Hey, would you want to do this?” and they’re like “Of course.  Yeah, I would love to do 2.”  So, we do 2.  It’s just everything we like.  We think that 2 are exceptional enough to warrant their own things. 

A few people ask me this question.  Obviously in putting together a gallery, you guys have a huge Austin turnout, but inevitably, most of the prints you do at a gallery for a big show never end up online, or very few of them will.  Do you ever envision a time in the future where you might say, for additions that are above 500, where you’ll put aside 50 for an online drop or make it so fans not in Austin have an easier shot at getting stuff.  Or what’s the balance of that?

ISHMAEL: For a gallery show, particularly for the Ken Taylor/Tyler Stout thing, I understand that when people are out of town or overseas or something they can’t get it.  But, I don’t think it would necessarily be fair if we had people waiting in line until 3 am, and we held them back for people online.  You know what I mean?  We have this thing specifically in Austin, we have the artists there specifically in Austin and it’s an Austin event and when we have that many people turnout, they waited to buy those posters.  They came to that show.  For that, I think that it is definitely a matter of the people that waited in line deserve to get those.  And then when we do something like a screening, like we have a screening that holds 180 people or something, so the chances are, if we’re doing a show of 180 posters that quick, we will give those online people opportunity.  I think we’re more than fair with people online that aren’t in Austin.  We’re doing as much as we can I think.  We’re going to LA.  We’re going to New York.  We’re going to Kansas City, of all places, to do stuff.  We’re going to Littleton, Colorado soon.  Jerry Shaw’s going to be there selling RoboCop posters so I think we’re doing a decent job of spreading it around and doing live shows mixed with online releases as well. 

Mondo-GoT-Gallery-Space-1What can you tease people in terms of future gallery shows later this year or future cool things?  Because everyone wants to know about future stuff.  So what can you tease?

ISHMAEL: We’re going to have more solo shows.  Obviously we’ve announced the Mike Mitchell thing but even more than that, we’re going to have at least two more.  We’re going to have some more themed group shows that are going to be fun later this year.  We’re going to have more licenses coming up.  We signed some larger deals.  I have an idea for a larger scale Mystery Movie that I’ve been talking about for well over a year with people.  We’re trying to figure out what we can do with it.  If everything goes right, we’ll be at Comic-Con.  We’ll have the Mystery Movie.  We’ll have more or less a show mark at the gallery.  It’s solo shows, group shows, and then, maybe some more comic book covers and stuff this year too. 

I’m very intrigued when you say comic book covers…

ISHMAEL: Yes, I guess that’s part of the tease (laughs). 

I have another question.  Can we look forward to anything by Struzan this year besides Dark Tower, or is that the one you’re putting all of the energy in?

ISHMAEL: I’ve talked to Drew, but it’s definitely been a friendly talk, not like “Hey, what are you going to do next for us?” I don’t know.  I would love for him to do something more for us this year, but there’s nothing in the near future.  

Again, a huge thank you to Justin for giving me so much time.  Let me know how I did in the comments.


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