The Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda of MondoCon

Star Wars, Marvel near misses from the Mondo archive

Woulda, coulda, shoulda: The Mondo team look back on the Game of Thrones steel book that never happened at MondoCon (Photo by Richard Whittaker)

Every year, Austin's pop-culture ephemera empire Mondo produces enough film collectibles to sink a battleship and break your bank forever. But not every design makes it through unscathed. At last weekend's MondoCon, the annual Mondo Talk panel delved deep into the sometimes beautiful, sometimes shocking reject pile.

As hosted by Mondo creative director Rob Jones (clad in his finest Vegas-era Elvis attire), the packed-out theatre at the AFS Cinema got a chance to see what they'll never see on their own walls. There were dead projects (Game of Thrones steel books, nixed at the very highest level of the show), overly extreme pitches (Randy Ortiz's super-graphic gatefold soundtrack for David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers), and even obvious hindsight goofs on published projects (Jared Muralt's Godzilla 2014 print, which has the monster inexplicably raging through Central Park).

Here's a few of the most memorable moments from the show:

Photo by Richard Whittaker

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: Olly Moss on Star Wars: The Force Awakens

What happened: Moss' posters for the original Star Wars trilogy are among Mondo's most collectible, but the plans for an Episode VII print impacted on the surface.

Eric Garza (head of creative production): Credit block.

Rob Jones (co-founder, creative director): Or as they call them in the industry, billing block.

Jay Shaw (artist): Or words at the bottom of the poster.

EG: Let's talk about licenses. Unfortunately, we can't put any credit block or billing block on the posters.

JS: Olly really wanted to do it, he was excited about it, but he's a really big fan of billing blocks, so he just thought "It's not the movie poster I want without it." When they said no, it was just, "OK, let's shelve it."

Photo by Richard Whittaker

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: Tom Whalen's enamel pins for Nightcrawler, Peter Porker the Amazing Spider-Ham, and Apocalypse.

What happened: While enamel pins are big part of Mondo's expanding portfolio, Marvel rejected several designs.

RJ: Tom and I are both children of the Seventies, and Eric and (events manager David Rancatore) are children of the "I don't give a shit because it's too young for me." We'll get into arguments like "I think that Scott Summers should have the wrap over his head," and Eric and Ranc go, "That's old, grandpa."

Sadly, even pins sometimes get rejected by the studios. For example, you may remember a little movie called Age of Apocalypse. Apparently there was a boss of the Four Horsemen called Apocalypse. People ask, "Why didn't you make an Apocalypse pin?" Well, we tried.

EG: Unfortunately, they go on blockades where you can't use certain X-Men. Nightcrawler is on that list, but fortunately by that point we had already accrued and released our Nightcrawler pin.

RJ: This happened again for this very MondoCon. If you've seen these animal pins of Lockjaw, Frog Thor, and Howard the Duck, and we had a fourth that got rejected.

EG: The entire wave was built around wanting to do a Spider-Ham pin. Like Apocalypse, they said no for whatever reason, and we couldn't do it, but we were gutted.

RJ: I want to do an entire range. I want to do Hulk Bunny and Captain Americat.

Photo by Richard Whittaker

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: The Liz Phair Exile in Guyville reference for the Inside Out Disgust single. Or, as Jones kept calling it, Exile in Guytown.

What Happened: All the variant singles pastiched different alternative rock covers (Black Flag's Damaged for Anger, David Bowie's Hunky Dory for Fear). The original plan for Disgust was to photo-reference Phair's breakout album, but the team at Phantom City Creative went with Hole's Live Through This instead.

RJ: (Mondo Records production manager) Mo Shafeek's original idea was, "Hey man, let's do Exile in Guytown. I was like, "What's that?" He said, "Stand aside." We tried it out, but it wasn't reading like the cover of the record. "It's obviously her mouth. OK, it's still fucked up. Maybe her hair flares out so it looks like the hoodie? Maybe we just cut out this Liz Phair Exile in Guytown or whatever it's called and go with Hole."

Photo by Richard Whittaker

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: Jay Shaw's original design for the Crash soundtrack by Howard Shaw

What Happened: Shaw's original design was rejected for being a little too on the nose, thematically, for David Cronenberg's adaptation of the J.G. Ballard novel. The label went with a painted sleeve by Rich Kelly instead.

JS: I really wanted to do something about what happens when a car hits another car. Obviously the movie's about sex and car crashes. Car crashes are kind of sexual – now I'm not advocating that you should ever get in a car crash to get off – but there's a penetration when two cars hit each other, when two bodies collide. You see the impact damage, it's crazy-looking, and a lot of it can seem really, really vaginal.

I got obsessed with this idea, that you get some really bulbous shapes and strange gashes, so I thought, "This is easy, I'll just to a junkyard and take a bunch of photos." This is in Denver, and it turns out junkyards don't just let you come and take photos. I had no idea, but I kept calling places and saying, "Hey, I have this project, it's about this movie Crash, it's about sex and death and car crashes, and I really want to take photos." Every time, they'd just hang up. These old gearheads, they didn't want to hear anything about it.

So after eight tries, I finally got into a place. They said, "Yeah, man, do what you want, don't steal anything, don't be an idiot." So I just wandered around for a day, and it was incredible.

Photo by Richard Whittaker

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: Matt Taylor's variant for his Jaws victims infographic poster.

What Happened: The original print showed everyone eaten by the Great White in the original film. The variant just showed the undigested body parts. But that wasn't the only thing the studio blanched at. It was that the variant turned the original's blue sea a bloody crimson.

RJ: The studio said, "It's a bit too bloody." So we came up with a compromise, and they said, "It's still too bloody." "What? They're all whole." "Ah, it's the color red." So we went with orange, like fire, and that did the trick.

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