Deep within the secret recesses of the Alamo Drafthouse at South Lamar, Justin Ishmael sits amongst the limited edition shirts and posters waiting to be sold and shipped away.
It's business as usual in this tiny warehouse fit for hobbits, but the creative director of Mondo is wrapping his mind around the biggest news for the future of the Drafthouse’s art boutique.
On July 11th, Academy of Motion Pictures Art and Sciences announced a collaboration with Mondo to begin archiving every limited edition poster created by Mondo artists at the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library located in Beverly Hills.
Just like their longtime partner the Alamo Drafthouse, this small-scale Austin establishment is now looking at gaining some extensive national exposure.
“It’s weird to think that maybe fifty years when I’m dead, maybe they’ll have a retrospective thing with all of our posters up."
“The Academy thing was a total surprise to us,” recollects Ishmael. “Most of the stuff we did like Star Wars, Universal Monsters, Star Trek, all those licenses I’m actually going out and bugging people, just pestering them until they finally are just like ‘Alright, we’ll give it to you.’”
Ishmael, however, did not expect to actually be approached by an organization as illustrious as the Academy. “This is the first time that they went outside of [the studio system] and thought something was relevant enough to put in their archives forever.”
That call placed the artists of Mondo into a level of esteem, being preserved alongside legendary artists like Chuck Jones and Ray Harryhausen.
“It’s cool to think that it’s always going to be there,” says Ishmael. “It’s weird to think that maybe fifty years when I’m dead, maybe they’ll have a retrospective thing with all of our posters up.”
Mondo has now been spurred on to start some of their own archival endeavors, albeit in a more digital manner. Mondo Archive is a growing collection of all the posters created by Mondo artists dating back to 1999.
The only problem is that many of the earliest releases were not reported online and were made specifically for Alamo Drafthouse screenings held at the old original location on Colorado Street.
While there is already an expansive online collection, a lot of work will need to be done to unearth and bring back many of those hidden works. They hope many can be found in one place.
“[Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO] Tim League has mostly one of everything, I think,” says Ishmael.
Perhaps the deal's biggest perk for Mondo is the chance to work with retired movie poster artist Drew Struzan, a legend high on Ishmael’s list of dream artists to collaborate with.
Struzan may not be a household name, but any movie fanatic will recognize his iconic work on Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Thing, The Goonies and Adventures in Babysitting to name a few.
Although he is now enjoying retirement, Struzan was excited to work with Mondo to commission a poster for Universal Pictures original Frankenstein, one of many passion projects he wanted to tackle in his career. Now, this limited print will be amongst the first group of Mondo posters archived at the Margaret Herrick Library.
Just like many of Ishmael’s idols, the folks from Mondo will now get their chance to shine at the 2011 Comic-Con International in San Diego where they'll set up shop at Booth 433.
With Mondo artist Tyler Stout’s cover for the comic Captain America: First Vengeance, Mondo branches out beyond movie posters and into comic books, including a new license to create works for DC Comics.
Perhaps the most unique new territory for Mondo is Mondo Video, a partnership with Intervision Picture Corporation to release cult genre films on VHS.
With new opportunities on Mondo’s horizon, Ishmael was willing to offer his own perspective on other small operations finding unexpected success and having a national spotlight suddenly shine on them.
It essentially boils down to the tried-and-true mantra of “Be Yourself” but stay wary of being just a fad.
It now seems that the creative minds behind Mondo are not just gaining more exposure and followers, but also the chance to fulfill their potential.
Says Ishmael, “If there’s enough people that like it, we’ll keep doing more things.”