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Mondo Con Is Go!

Print and art show announces monstrous and hellish names

By Richard Whittaker, 1:00PM, Mon. Jun. 2

Justin Ishmael
Justin Ishmael
Photo courtesy of Annie Ray

Hey Mondo! Back in January, the local print mavens announced they will be holding their first convention this fall. Now they have confirmed that, on Sept. 20-21, Mondo Con will host some of the greatest names in horror, genre, and pop culture art working today.

For Mondo CEO Justin Ishmael, it's an extension of what they already do at their show openings. He said, "We had started the gallery a couple of years ago, and we really enjoyed getting everyone together," he said. "This is the fan base we have. They really like to meet the people."

But taking the leap from a few drinks and a few hundred people in one evening, to a full scale convention, is a big jump, and one they had been mulling for a while. "There will little talks, here and there," Ishmael said. However, running booths at a lot of different shows and events around the nation was a learning experience. "Seeing how different conventions are run, and the differences between conventions and how they are run. Then it was, 'how about we take the parts of normal conventions, and make them fun?'"

The idea is for something intimate. Ishmael said, "A lot of conventions say, 'We have 400 exhibitors.' That's not what we're going to do. We are not trying to do our own San Diego Comic Con. We're not taking over the city." That's why they steered clear of larger downtown venues, instead going for the self-contained charm of the Marchesa Hall and Theatre. That location comes with some big pluses. "The convention is literally two minutes from our own offices, versus a day's travel from San Diego Comic Con." It's also, as anyone that has attended the annual Staple! Indie Media Expo knows, a hybrid space that lends itself to screenings, lectures and exhibitions. Ishmael said, "One of the reason's we picked it is that is because it's a theater, and another reason is that there's a bar."

That's the real purpose of Mondo Con: To take the self-contained vibe of Fantastic Fest, mix in the relaxed art viewing of the gallery shows, and add screenings, talks, and an opportunity to hang out with some pop culture greats. Ishmael said, "It's, 'let's get artists talking to artists. Let's get Basil Gogos talking to Berniue Wrightson. Let's get Geof Darrow talking to people about the films.'"

Confirmed names for this year's show include:
Hellboy creator Mike Mignola
Mignola's old collaborator and Staple! 2014 guest of honor Francesco Francavilla (BPRD, Guardians of the Galaxy)
Master of the macabre Bernie Wrightson
Classic Famous Monsters portrait artist Basil Gogos
Gogos' heir apparent, Ghoulish Gary Pullin
Barbarian fantasy artist Arik Roper (www.arikroper.com)
Comic artist Geof Darrow (Hard Boiled, Shaolin Cowboy .)
British metal artist Richey Beckett (www.richeybeckett.com)

Pullin and Francavilla have done work for the local print masters in the past, but of course there'll be a series of Mondo regulars:
Anne Benjamin (Oh My Disney, Adventure Time) wwwannebenjamin.blogspot.com.
Jason Edmiston (Rogues' Gallery solo show)
Phantom City Creative (Godzilla, John Carpenter's Halloween
JJ Harrison (Adventure Time, Duck Tales) www.jjwharrison.com
Jock (Dark Knight Rises, The Raid, Dredd)
Jay Shaw (Bullhead, Beyond the Black Rainbow)
Tiny Kitten Teeth (101 Dalmatians, Duck Amuck.)

That's just the first round, and there are undoubtedly more to come, making this a potentially unique event. Ishmael said, "Let's not say once in a lifetime. If people like it, then we may do it again next year."

Mondo Con will run Sept. 20-21 at the Marchesa Hall and Theater, 6406 N. IH-35. Tickets $35 one day, $70 weekend pass, on sale Wednesday, June 4. Free admission for Fantastic Fest VIP badge holders. More details at www.mondo-con.com

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