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, December 28, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews "The Robe" from 1953



The Robe is a better movie than you would expect. The story is actually about a man dealing with the shame and guilt of being lost in a life without true moral direction. His redemption is when he finds his true path. In the story of The Robe, many viewers miss the hero’s redemption through Jesus as an allegory. Now, that is what I call strong script writing. The advent of television lured people away from theaters. The studio no doubt wanted to hit a large demographic with its new, exciting presentation technique, the height to width ratio nearly twice as wide as a television screen: CinemaScope! I think that’s why The Robe was the first CinemaScope release instead of How to Marry a Millionaire, which completed filming in CinemaScope first. The studio was right. The Robe did well at the box office. Here’s an interesting bit of trivia: The Robe was also filmed in the standard “Academy” format for theaters that had yet to be fitted with the new technology. This required separate film takes and set preparations for many scenes. So, there are actually two versions of The Robe circulating out there with different looks and dialog. Odds are that you have only seen the Academy version as that size format fits televisions. Look for a DVD widescreen version of The Robe, and see Richard Burton strut his stuff like you’ve never seen it before.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews "River of No Return"



River of No Return did well at the box office when it was released in 1954. This western has a relatively simple script and might have blended in well with average western fare if it weren’t for two things. The first was the scenery. Director Otto Preminger and Cameraman Joseph LaShelle took full advantage of Cinemascope to capture the grandeur of national parks as mesmerizing settings for the story. Also beautiful on the screen was the leading lady, Marilyn Monroe. Her role as a saloon singer served as useful excuse to have her fill the screen. To extend her screen time, Preminger has her sing several musical numbers. When Marilyn or the gorgeous buttes of Idaho aren’t depicted on screen, we have Robert Mitchum tangling with scoundrels, Indians, and mountain lions. There’s not a lot of depth to or explanation of these characters. No reasons are given for the Indian and mountain lion attacks other than the assumption that’s what Indians and mountain lions do. As a result, those scenes lack strength and are forgotten as quickly as a childhood game. There is more chemistry between Marilyn and the boy, played by Tommy Rettig, than there is between Monroe and Mitchum. Had there been more of a spark, River of No Return might rank higher in its status as a classic Western.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1583


While I was reading the news article that inspired this strip I kept wondering, "If he had a partner, what happened to the partner?" I even thought about doing a strip where the two of them were running into the gators together. But I thought this one had more bite.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Comic Critic's Review of "Master of the World"




It’s very difficult for me to be objective with Master of the World. The film was released in 1961 and I was born in 1962, so I didn’t have a chance to see it in the theater. But I did see it repeatedly on television. I was a voracious reader at a very young age. I loved fantastic tales of grand adventure and read everything Jules Verne wrote. Although people still read his books, I think many pass over “Robur the Conqueror” and its sequel “Master of the World” because the scenarios expressed in these early science fiction books would be kicked to the curb. WWI and WWII quickly revealed the true pros and cons of air warfare. But I found his books fun reading. Verne’s contraptions were a subject of many of my doodles. The Albatross, with its forest of propellers, was my favorite to draw. I’d seen Master of the World so many times that I had its shape and construction memorized. Yes, Master of the World might seem a little hokey by today’s standards. But Vincent Price gives a great performance. Charles Bronson’s star rose quite a bit after he was Charles Buchinsky playing Igor in 1953’s House of Wax, in which Vincent Price was also the lead. And while the war footage might be reused from other films, it does the job of showing fun explosions. Watching it renews my desire to discover and read new books. I still find Master of the World as fun to watch now as when I saw it as a kid. I’d like my friends who are into Steampunk to discover this gem and enjoy it just as much as I do.