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Roller Girl and Oil Rigs: Mondo Releases Paul Thomas Anderson Movie Poster Series

Roller Girl and Oil Rigs: Mondo Releases Paul Thomas Anderson Movie Poster Series

Mondo, is debuting a series of Paul Thomas Anderson poster prints this week.  The series was curated by artist Aaron Horkey, and go on sale later this week. (Cost: $40-125.) Below are the five posters, with quotes from Horkey:

“Hard Eight” by Rich Kelly

“I met Rich a few years ago when he was living in Chicago – he had only just started out on his phenomenal run of posters but he was already light years ahead of the pack. Looking through his sketchbook was a fucking revelation – I can honestly say that book was up there with Crumb, Ware and Jean in terms of sheer brilliance and natural ability. When this curatorial project was taking shape I knew I wanted non-Mondo regulars to round it out but Kelly was the obvious exception to the rule – his beautifully nuanced illustrative style was just the thing for capturing the gritty noir of Anderson’s first film and I was over the moon when he agreed to take part. Even in the rough initial stages I could tell I made the right choice – another absolute stunner of a composition to add to his growing portfolio of classic pieces, the kid wins again…”

“Boogie Nights” by Rockin’ Jelly Bean

“This poster was destined to be handled by RJB – anyone even marginally familiar with his style and subject matter would have to agree that he’s been seemingly working up to this one for years. When I initially reached out (thanks to Pushead for the introduction) his auto-translated response boiled down to, “Rollergirl is my inspiration!” After that point all bets were off and the finished product is precisely what an RJB Boogie Nights poster should be – glistening, dynamic and damn near dripping off the paper.”

Magnolia” by Joao Raus

“I’d been watching Joao’s incredible progression from the moment he was tapped to follow cover artist James Jean on DC’s Fables series – I don’t know if anyone expected shoes that massive to be filled so effortlessly but here he was, voracious in his experimentation and so consistent in his victories as to thoroughly belie his years. Ruas has grown over the years into an absolute favorite of mine and I was thrilled that he was willing to take part in this series. His Magnolia poster (which is, I believe, his first screen print) is in my eyes a perfectly balanced illustration – hauntingly stark yet deceptively detailed and a palette over which to salivate. That he was able to distill such a dense narrative into these simple forms is truly something to wonder over – I feel absolutely cro-magnon in it’s presence, more so than usual. And that title lettering – total perfection.”

“Punch Drunk Love” by Jordan Crane

“Just hearing the title of this movie made me think of Jordan – taken out of context it fits right in with his staggering output of comics, anthologies and children’s books. I’ve stood awe-struck in front of a wall plastered with his amazing screen prints, have been reading his work since his groundbreaking Non anthology and, like a good portion of the population, still don’t understand how the Hell he made the Maps and Legends dust jacket so it was not a huge leap to think this could be a winner. Knowing he’s more than capable with a squeegee as well as with a forlorn narrative it was a relief to hear he was on board and the final poster is a fantastic addition to the series.”

There Will Be Blood” by Aaron Horkey

“A few years ago, when a potential PTA director’s series was first mentioned, I immediately had my hand up for this one. Everything about There Will Be Blood  is precisely my cup of tea – the time period, the sweeping desolation of the landscape, the soundtrack, Daniel Day-Lewis, etc. I didn’t immediately come to the idea of an over-sized stock certificate but the more thought that went into it the more perfect it seemed as a visual embodiment of the film. I’ve also wanted to go all-in on something resembling a 19th century engraved note for quite some time so this seemed like as good an excuse as any. All told I spent over 100 hours on the illustration – it’s still only about half as involved as I think it should be but after 6 weeks I felt like it needed to be put to bed. The aging of the paper is something I’m pretty proud of here – there are 3 layers of very subtle tone built up from the paper color to approximate a century old piece of acidic, weathered stock.”

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Anyone else (who is a fan of the film) more-than-a-little disappointed by the MAGNOLIA print…?

To begin, I will say that, if this truly is Raus' first screen print, as Horkey believes, I look forward to the inevitable great things that are to come from this artist. With respect to technique and execution, it is an impressive piece of work, and the talent here is pretty staggering. That being said. . .

I feel that this, unlike the other four prints, really missed-the-mark in capturing the spirit of the film. A sprawling, Altman-esque ensemble meditating on life and death, love and loss, triumph, loneliness and countless other Big Ideas–often in paradox–MAGNOLIA is both deeply intimate and epic. Admittedly, it is a tough, overwhelming narrative to pin down in the form of a poster. But that should be the fun of it. The challenge inherent in re-interpreting a film like Anderson's MAGNOLIA is that it is SO rich with reference and irreverence that an artist could really go-the-distance with figurative 'meaning.' Yet what Raus gives us is so literal that it borders on shallow (you have to wonder if he simply watched the 'frog sequence' and decided to create a gooey swamp tableau, then toss the titular flower in the center to drive the whole thing home, as if it wasn't already clear what movie this was depicting). If you're going for literal here, why not depict the insanely talented cast of characters? The total absence of ANYONE from the film leaves it a bit bereft of identity…sure, the element of mystery can be enticing in a poster, but here, it just feels like a missed opportunity, and a misleading one at that (more on that in a moment).

What's more, the print doesn't radiate the film's passion as the other four prints so vividly, if disparately, do for their respective PT pictures. Yeah, MAGNOLIA is intense and deeply sad, but it's also wildly funny, touching and bursting with unpredictability. The irony here is that Raus' print feels predictable in and of itself: every one-sheet that NewLine created for the film, or variation thereupon, had either the blossoming magnolia flower at its center OR contained hints of frogs falling from a cloudy blue sky. Raus takes these two been-done ideas and essentially blends them–but what he came up with isn't any greater than its original parts.

Another gripe: the color palette. Orange, black and gray do look very attractive together–but for this film? I don't get it, and I think that the slasher-esque font choice for the title further confuses the print as a whole. Take the Halloween-y color scheme, the creepy hands-reaching-out-of-frogs imagery, and that strange font and this MAGNOLIA motif essentially advertises…a B-horror film…?

Overall, this MAGNOLIA print disappoints precisely because there is so much evidence that Raus has the makings of a terrific artist and doesn't deliver upon the promise inherent. Compositionally, this is tricky stuff executed with an effortless, flowing finesse. But abound are missed opportunities, safe, seen-before choices, and a general misrepresentation of what film is REALLY being advertised. (*Were this print hanging in a theater lobby back in November of 1999 and you knew nothing about the film, really, what kind of movie would you assume this to be?)

Full disclosure: I have been an ad exec in H*llyw**d for nearly a decade. I have worked on a few truly terrific posters…I have also worked on some bad, bad shit. For what it's worth, I believe that Mr. Raus has the makings of a natural designer–and the components of a great artist. I would not have so deeply analyzed his work had I not thought that his potential is astronomical and will inevitably lead to great things, as does practically everything that comes from Mondo.


Aaron Horkey is one of the worlds greatest living illustrators. Period.


how 'bout a "Life-Is-Crap/People-Are-Bad/Life Is Hopeless/I'm-Just-Projecting-My-Own-Evil-On-Everyone-Else" poster? That's the subtitle for all his movies and it deserves its own poster.


Can't retweet… to many letters… it's at -59 Too bad.


A genius's tribute to a genius. I have no idea how I could ever acquire one – or all – of these, as prints, but if there's a way, please let it be so.

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