The Home of the Creative Mind

Welcome to PooBahSpiel, the online voice and home of the creative mind of Mark Monlux, Illustrator Extraordinaire. Prepare yourself for an endless regaling of art directly from the hand of this stellar artist. And brace yourself against his mighty wind of pontification. Updates are kinda weekly and show daily sketches, current projects, and other really nifty stuff.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews "Citizen Kane"

How Green is My Valley, Blossoms in the Dust, , Here comes Mr. Jordan, Hold Back the Dawn, The Little Foxes, The Maltese Falcon, One Foot in Heaven, Sergeant York, Suspicion, and Citizen Kane—these were the Best Picture nominees for the 1942 Academy Awards. And while Citizen Kane would win two Oscars that evening, How Green is My Valley would walk away with Best Picture. Yet, it is Citizen Kane that has become heralded as a Cinematic Masterpiece. It’s usually listed in any top-100 film list and is featured as a top- ten choice in several others. Some might say that Citizen Kane is the rightful holder of Best Picture by sheer merit. But look back at the nominee list. The Maltese Falcon and Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion have also become well-known landmarks in film. This is why I enjoy investigating films that have been nominated by the Academy. Sure, the winners are worth watching, but true treasure can be found in the nomination list. One of my other favorites nominated in 1942 is Sergeant York. It might not be the must-see that Citizen Kane is, but I found it an extremely entertaining film.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews "The Longest Day"

I’ve seen The Longest Day over a dozen times. But I’ve only seen it uncut a few times. Most of my viewings were via broadcast television where its three-hour-length jostles was compromised by commercials. The Longest Day is a docudrama about the Allies’ invasion of Normandy. A docudrama is just what it sounds like. Parts of it do a pretty good job of providing details of that fateful day, like names and locations. The drama part is everything else. The scale of production for The Longest Day was huge. So large, in fact, that three different directors were assigned to different countries at the same time to meet the production deadline. And there was no shortage of stars for this film. Both Richard Burton and Roddy McDowall flew over from the stalled production of Cleopatra to participate. The Longest Day would receive five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. But there were a lot of great films that year and the Best Picture win went to Lawrence of Arabia.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1571

This is an actual dream I had. I should mentioned that I was not a collaborator. This dream was the result of my brain being lazy. I'd just watched "Went the day well?" before heading off to bed. Actually, the thing I watched before being to bed was an episode from an anime series about boy's high school volleyball. Somehow that didn't make it into my dream, but the Nazis did.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1570

I can promise you at least two Stickman strips this week. This first is about my concern about invasive species.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews "The Creation of the Humanoids."

I really was very young when I saw The Creation of the Humanoids. It had a very lasting effect on me. Until then, I never considered what a thin line there might be between man and machine. How much of a person’s personality is nature and how much is nurture? What defines a creature as being biological? Is being biological a requirement for consciousness? It was all very heady stuff. It’s a good thing The Creation of the Humanoids didn’t have dazzling special effects, roaring chase scenes, or fireball explosions to distract me from those talking heads. My young mind was doing its best to keep up with the implications of their discussions. The acting in this film is very stiff. It’s not improved by the cinematography. Nearly all the scenes are unanimated people talking to each other. But as I watched The Creation of the Humanoids again, all these decades later, I was  struck by how many of the film’s predictions or concepts have came true. I’m also amazed at how the dialog, while a bit uninspiring, continues to touch on relevant social issues, such as surveillance, sexual freedom, relationships, and what constitutes a partnership. You might find The Creation of the Humanoids a clunky old sci-fi movie, but I challenge you to compare it to modern science fiction movies. See if current productions touch on as many social issues, or if they are just eye candy. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Comic Critic reviews The Big Sleep

I can understand the need for a director to call an actor back after filming to add some voice-over. Sometimes this is crucial. But what drives me to distraction is that too often it’s used as a lazy shortcut. I dislike movies that are whittled down to the lowest attention-span denominator. The audience doesn’t need to be led by the hand through each and every scene. And when it comes to the genre of Mystery, it’s an absolute crime. What I love are movies that forge ahead with the understanding that the audience has enough intelligence to keep up, or at least will put in an effort to see where the pieces fit. The Big Sleep keeps the viewer riveted because it’s not easy to follow, or even keep up with the events unfolding. When you do receive an exposition, it’s only at the end. Also, the number of tricks and lazy shortcuts of familiar tropes is kept to a minimum. Because The Big Sleep is so well constructed, it has held up over the decades. On top of that, you have superb acting—not only by the stars, but also by some of the best character actors in the business. If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a real treat.