As my buddy and I drove up to the Marchesa Hall in Austin, Texas, we immediately knew that MONDOCON 1 would be something special. Unfortunately for us, so did thousands of other fans. The venue was to open at 10:00 AM and we arrived just after 9:30 AM. Big mistake. The line was long, and “long” doesn’t quite paint the picture of just how many people were already in the line at this point. That’s what Mondo creates though. They are the big pioneer for this community, and everyone wants to be a part of it.
I didn’t end up getting into the actual Hall until about 10:30 AM, and immediately it was chaos. Easily over a thousand people were in a relatively small location all hunting down their most coveted print. There were 2 separate rooms filled with artists all along the walls as well as in the middle of the show floors. The room that Mike Mitchell was in was the most crowded because of his booth and his extremely slow moving line, and unfortunately this caused that entire hall to be packed line a can of sardines in some places (it stayed like that until I left for the nigth). Luckily, I had a ticket to The Art of Toy Making panel that started at 11:00 AM to get me out of the stress filled mad house.
This was a very interesting panel. I know nothing of the collectible toy world, so I’m sure other people enjoyed it a lot more. However, it was very awesome to hear about the creative and designing processes involved. Justin Ishmael, head honcho of Mondo, announced that the Iron Giant figure would be coming out around November, Hitchcock and Ninja Turtles in 2015, and newly announced Hellboy and Scott Pilgrim are in the works as well. If you are a collector of toys, Mondo is definitely the company to follow for upcoming releases. These people are collectors, they know what works, know what doesn’t, and made a big deal about how they don’t want to ruin the trust we have for them. They were also very open to fan comments on what you want, what needs to be fixed, etc., so if you have an opinion then they definitely want you to voice it.
As I walked back into the main lobby from the panel, the lines were even longer at this point. To get into the outdoors Mondo tent line, there was a line. To get into one of the two halls, there was a waiting line. If you wanted to get art, there was a line. This gave me a chance to first get a “Strawberry Cornetto” Shaun of the Dead inspired beverage, and then check out some other names I had not been familiar with before in the at-less-than-capacity hall that I hadn’t venture into yet. This is where I really started to enjoy the magic that Mondo had envisioned for this convention. I was able to explore this huge community of art, meet other fans just as passionate as me, and just stand in awe. I feel like that is something that could easily have been lost among the people there, is just how awesome it all really was. But long lines, heat, rain, and small print runs will do that.
As the day went on, I began to enjoy my time there a lot more. Honestly, it seemed like everyone was. It definitely thinned out, and you were able to relax more. I learned about Dave Correia (of Zero Friends), got to chat with Jock and Jason Edmiston, threw (and missed) records at Zombies while trying to earn a variant copy of the Shaun of the Dead record, and met tons of cool people. Talking to all of you who love this stuff as much as me was probably my favorite thing so far too. Being able to share passion, introduce others (or be introduced) to new artists, and create memories is what is going to make MONDOCON something great.
The Mondo tent was, in my opinion, not as strong as a lot of art inside. They had tons of Iron Giant stuff (which I was OK with), Deadpool/ Night of the Living Dead mash ups, and a few other movie titles that I wasn’t very familiar with. All of the quality was top notch though, as always with prints from Rich Kelly, Franceso Francavilla, DKNG, Mike Mitchell, Jason Edmiston, and so many more. They introduced vinyl records for Looper and Iron Giant as well.
Overall, there are many things to like about MONDOCON. There was great art, very nice people and artists everywhere, great food and drinks, and new people to fall in love with their work. There were also many things to not like about it such as LONG lines everywhere, a small venue, and a lack of expectation on Mondo’s part of how big this would be for the fans. I plan on going tomorrow more to just look around, see another panel, and get Sunday exclusive art. As of now, I’d say MONDOCON was a success. You just have to be able to adapt in this screen printed environment.
Another small thing to note was that there were panels going on all day, but those were tough to get tickets for. So far, there was a panel for the process of making a movie (from the art side), a 2001: A Space Odyssey vinyl release with clips shown from the movie, as well as the toy one I went to. Screenings tonight, which include prints in the ticket cost, are for Ghost in the Shell and Total Recall.
If someone from Mondo ever reads this, here are my biggest recommendations: get a bigger venue, and let volunteers handle payment, not the artists. Let them enjoy the fan interaction, not the business side. Also, if you want this to exist with Fantastic Fest, don’t have it set as the same time as the movie festival. My $.02
More to come tomorrow at Day 2!