MondoCon Wrap-up, by Chase Beck
You had probably assumed that everything that was going to be written about MondoCon Austin 2015 already had been. I took a bit of extra time to digest the events and gestate my thoughts and impressions.
At the start of this October, the second ever MondoCon occurred in Austin. Perhaps the biggest change from the previous year, was a pre-MondoCon event, a concert called Frizzi 2 Fulci. A tribute by Italian film composer Fabio Frizzi to Italian film director Lucio Fulci, Frizzi 2 Fulci was a thrilling experience coupling images of terrifying horror and gore with majestic and exuberant musical tones. However, at the time of the show, over a hundred people had already lined-up at the convention miles away. All were queued in the hopes of being early enough to purchase rare pieces of artwork when the convention opened the next morning. These print fans missed Frizzi 2 Fulci. The circumstances described above embody the dichotomy of MondoCon perfectly. Barring some significant redesign, it will always be a convention divided between two groups, those willing to stand in line for hours and those more interested in an active experience. I suppose, in a way, it is no different from visiting an amusement park, there are always activities that are available to the attendees, but they will unfortunately be overshadowed by large events and attractions.
Music, Music, Music
The major stand out for me this year was the presence of music. The vinyl movement is making an impact at MondoCon. There were multiple vendors and companies represented. I am looking forward to Waxwork Record’s release of The Warriors later this year, and Mondo’s release of Twin Peaks for next year, but more on that in another post.
The Convention for Non-buyers
MondoCon will always be about spending big dough for pieces of paper with ink on them. That will not change. However, there is only so much room on one’s walls. The event organizers have done an excellent job at providing free and low-cost activities for convention-goers to attend and enjoy as an alternative to frantic spending. There were various excellent panels full of amazing future announcements – like a Jock book and new Mondo releases, as well as a live Adventures in Design podcast one could attend to hear interviews with artists.
Things I did right
Frizzi 2 Fulci: While I cannot say that I have been as enamoured of the works of Italian Lucio Fulci, his films do share some of the same dream-like quality and awesomely impressive scores as my fellow Italian (and my favorite horror director) Dario Argento. So, when preparing for MondoCon Austin 2015, upon hearing about the concert I jumped at the chance and was rewarded for it. I don’t believe anything at the convention topped that live performance.
Sketches: Many of the artists there were offering sketches. I was able to acquire such a sketch from artist N.C. Winters on a subject that is personal to me. Many people were requesting recreations of pop-culture icons. I saw him draw an exquisite Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road). For a frustrated artist turned reluctant (art?) critic such as myself, nothing quite beats being able to request and receive an artist’s vision of your own subject matter.
Prints: I am not going to turn this into a boast about my proud acquisitions but I will say that discovering new artists and artwork is always a delight. Finding Jessica Seamans’ intricate re-creation of the courtyard feast scene from Herzog’s Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht had me reeling with surprise and delight (the image used here is actually the same artwork but from the Waxwork Records vinyl release of the film’s soundtrack). It also finally clicked for me that artist Scott C. has made many contribution to Double Fine Studios’ games over the year, so I had to grab some of his work (Goblin Dreams, the Scott C. artwork featured here, is currently still available on his website, the image used is from there).
Screenings (and Mystery Prints): Would you put down $100 to see Goonies in the theater and walk away with a print by a mystery artist? I did and was not disappointed. The Tyler Stout Gold Goonies Variant is too beautiful to be believed and more than made up for passing up on some Stouts the day before (see below). Mondo release a regular version about a week ago that sold out before I could blink.
Letting Moby Dick Get Away: Over the weekend, at a non-Mondo sanctioned event, I held my white whale – that one unobtainable piece of art (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Ken Taylor) in my hands, in my hands!!! but walked away because the price was not right. Is there such a thing as non-buyers remorse? I think the word that I am looking for is just “remorse”. I also held some other exceedingly precious prints in my hand by the print greats Drew Struzan, Tyler Stout, Aaron Horkey, and Vania Zouravliov but could not convince myself that I would not find something just as precious the next day.
The Mike Mitchell/Aaron Horkey Collaboration: Mitchell’s playful fat birds with Horkey’s eerily armored animals makes for an amazing mash-up of cute and unsettling. I was unaware that it even existed until after I had left the convention. I have been tracking it online and am currently fighting the urge to pay 4x the original price before it creeps even higher. Every day is a challenge, but I am stronger than my addiction. image courtesy of mfaith from the expressobeans forums
More Sketches and Commissions: Many more artists than I realized were offering sketches and commissions, I sincerely wish that I would have realized this and taken them up on their offers. I would have specifically enjoyed owning work by Jock and Audrey Kawasaki. I love Jock’s style but have never seen a print of his that I just needed to have. Asking for a sketch might get him to finally do subject matter that I care about. As for Kawasaki, her ethereal beauties are just too perfect to pass up.
For my part, I was able to strike a personal balance between experiencing and waiting, holding position, for access to limited works of illustrated art. I walked away from MondoCon with a series of accomplishments and regrets but also a promise and conviction to do it better next year. I guess, at heart, I am not nearly devoted enough a fan to sit out all night, preferring the comfort and rest, coupled with the next day’s alertness, that a full night’s sleep provides.