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, April 25, 2016

The Comic Critic's Review of "Darby O'Gill and the Little People"

 Darby O’Gill and the Little People was featured regularly on the weekly television show The Wonderful World of Disney. I’ve seen it so many times I’ve lost count. It’s a perfect family movie, or at least I thought so when I was a kid. I loved watching Darby and King Brian of the leprechauns engage in their battle of wits—even though I knew how it would always end. Darby O’Gill and the Little People is a wonderful fantasy movie. It captured my imagination and held me enraptured. I think it might have been my first introduction to Irish myth and legends. I never thought it overdid Irish stereotypes. Yes, we knew that Darby preferred spending his time at the pub rather than on the estate. But we always felt it was because that’s where the audience for his leprechaun stories was. Having a bit of a pint was just a lucky happenstance, not a signature of alcoholism. I’ve not seen Darby O’Gill and the Little People in a while. With the slew of newer fantasy films available, I can see how some might have overlooked this now seldom-seen Disney film. Pull it out of the vault and watch it with your family. You will find that it’s much better than a lot of the nanny films sitting on your shelf.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "Zardoz"

Zardoz is a cult classic. Part of its charm is its fearlessness. Like a man with no rhythm or moves hitting the dance floor just because he loves to dance and screw what anybody else thinks, Zardoz goes for broke on the screen. Embarrassment is not an option. So, it’s not an embarrassment that Sean Connery shows off just how hairy a Scotsman can be in a scarlet loincloth with suspenders and thigh-high boots. It’s not an embarrassment that this fairly decent post-Apocalypse melodrama’s script is slightly overshadowed by sets and costumes that look like they came out of a discothèque designer’s wet dream. It’s an Irish-American production with director John Boorman being given pretty much free rein after the highly successful film Deliverance. While Zardoz did not fare well at the box office or with critics, it did find its audience in the video rental market for those looking for truly unusual and bizarre entertainment. Its cult following has grown so strong that love it or hate it, Zardoz has become entrenched in our culture.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "Rashomon"

Rashomon is unique on many levels. This film, set in Japan, tells a Japanese story in a very Japanese manner. As far as Japanese audiences were concerned, there was nothing overly remarkable about how the story was told, so Rashomon received a lukewarm reception there. But Director Arika Kurosawa knew that the Japanese were very modest as a culture and was determined to exhibit this unique Japanese take on storytelling to a worldwide audience. Rashomon served as an ambassador of the Japanese film industry and Kurosawa was quickly acknowledged as a respected director throughout the world. Rashomon’s depiction of various, often conflicting, viewpoints has come to be known as the “Rashomon Effect” and is now used extensively in media. Kurosawa’s bold use of light, nature, actors, and editing is so seamlessly structured that audiences are never aware that the reason for so many outside shots was its very limited budget.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."

I was still in elementary school when my family moved outside our school district while our new house was being built. My parents didn’t want us to change schools, so they didn’t inform the district. Instead, we carpooled with our father as he dropped us off at our different schools. He had a lot of kids, and the schools opened at different times. A few of us would wait with him at the Pinecone Café, a little dive along Highway 99. My dad would give us each a quarter, and we became good at playing the lone pinball machine, Evil Knievel. We had only one quarter and needed to make it last. There was also a jukebox that remained silent because most of the men there were just like my father, just easing into morning with a simple cup of coffee, a bear claw, and a newspaper. But I was curious and had plenty of time, so I read through the music selections. I recognized many of them. One choice made my eyes go wide. I found something my young little mind never conceived would ever be on a jukebox. Not even the magic thrill of Evil Knievel pinball was a match for my desire to listen to this selection. To this day, I still wonder what some of the men in the café thought when the theme for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly greeted them in the morning. In the mornings that followed, I wondered if they placed private little bets with themselves, which it would be, the pinball? Or the theme? I know that for me, it was a dilemma I faced every day.

 Sergio Leone is credited with creating the subgenre of Spaghetti Western. But what he did, other filmmakers have done; that is, you take an existing genre and spin it on its head with out-of-the-box thinking. In this case, by showing that a Western doesn’t have to be filmed in the American West, and that your heroes and bad guys follow the expected tropes established in the genre. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is the third in a series of Sergio Leone films. The previous were A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More. It’s argued that each stands alone, and they are not formal sequels. But many would agree that that The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly has come to represent the ultimate in Spaghetti Westerns. When I saw it the first time as a kid, I didn’t care about all that. I was riveted by these highly interesting characters doing their best to out-best each other through wits and action while seeking a treasure in gold. Alliances shifted, revenges sought, and you couldn’t see what was coming next. It was thrilling to watch. And the music! Ennio Mirricone scored all three of Sergio Leone’s movies and has gone on to score hundreds more. The sound of his work is as familiar to my ears as Mozart or Beethoven. And it took root in my head during The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. When I started to buy music for myself, a CD of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly soundtrack was one of my first purchases.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Return of Stickman - Easter 2016

I came up with this comic last week and I thought it would be perfect to send out on Easter. If you find a related news article, I would be very surprised.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "Spellbound"

I’ve always loved watching Spellbound. The chemistry between Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck has us rooting for both of them as they fall in love. The fatherly figure who looks like a clone of Albert Einstein provides the perfect oiling of comic relief to keep the gears’ entertainment turning smoothly. The dream sequence has Salvador Dali’s fingerprints all over it. Spellbound was very well received. Of its six Oscar nominations, it won for Best Music. This might be in part because Spellbound was the first movie to make use of the Theremin. The haunting quality of the instrument was the perfect overtone for a suspense thriller involving psychoanalysis. Spellbound was beat out for Best Picture by Going My Way which won seven of the ten Oscars for which it was nominated. I mention that because so many things get lost if you don’t mention them, like twenty minutes. That’s how long the footage for the dream sequence was before David Selznick edited it down to two. We’ll never know what that amazing footage, collaboration between Hitchcock and Dali, might have looked like; it’s lost to the cutting room. But the two minutes that are in Spellbound held riveting imagery that I’ve never forgotten.