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

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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