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.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

My friend Leilani Lisa Lawrence can be found in the project.

I've been a bit depressed. When I began this project I thought I might incorporate friends as characters into a scene. It quickly became a theme. Kristopher Brannon, also known as "That Sonics Guy" was a friend and I wanted to honor him by having him as a character. One of the first people I sketched for the project was Leilani Lisa Anderson. She was very pleased when she saw the video of my drawing her fire dancing. Unfortunately, Lani became very ill, and just as she was going to start a treatment she died. The abruptness was shocking. She was a vibrant person in my life. I think she would like to have a small cartoon version of her fire-dancing in a jigsaw. She'll go on performing for people in a surprising way. As I progress with this project new unexpected aspects I didn't anticipate the result. And I have to smile even more. Finding the hidden is what this project is all about.

Lani interacting with one of my chalk
drawings at Frost Park in Tacoma. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Tacoma Artists Initiative Project - Compiling Sketches

Here's a video showing an update on my project. I'm compiling elements of various sketches into the whole.

Here's one of the videos showing my sketches.

Monday, April 5, 2021

My Tacoma Artist Initiative Project

In March I received word that I have the Tacoma Art Commission's backing for a Tacoma Artists Initiative Projects. Of the forty artists who submitted applications, I was one of 24 selected for this year. I'm very honored to be one of the chosen and I'm looking forward to sharing this adventure with you.

Here is the gist of my project. As children, we were taught to find objects in our surroundings. Sometimes these would be out of context, such as in drawings when objects were hidden within a scene. Like a spatula hidden in the bark of a tree, or an iron in a field of flowers. Jigsaw puzzles were another way we learned to organize our thoughts. Our reward would be a view of a larger picture with a sense of accomplishment. In 2019 I lost three family members and became familiar with hospice facilities. There was a constant between all the facilities I visited: jigsaw puzzles. On tables by bedsides and in the communal waiting rooms I saw jigsaw puzzles being constructed. They brought forward a familiar welcoming feeling of those bygone times of play and learning. It was a perfect low-key activity that brought enjoyment, of pieces coming together to form a big picture, a gratifying feeling of coming full circle. Those hospice moments inspired an idea. I’ll be creating a puzzle picture. It would be a busy scene filled with people, animals, plants, and buildings all bustling with activity. Within it, there would be hidden objects, like a spoon making the hand of a clock. This image will in turn be turned into a jigsaw puzzle. The puzzle will become a public puzzle as they are hidden around Tacoma to be discovered by provided clues or chance. And, of course, a few will be donated to local Hospices and retirement centers. I’ve started live broadcasting of my work via my Facebook profile. You can also follow my progress via my other social media portals; YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.

"Arena" was one of the sample images I submitted to give the review panel. It provides an idea of my style and the activity I was looking to apply to the image.

This is not the first time I've done a Tacoma Artists Initiative Project. About five years ago I created two one-minute public service announcements informing artists about their copyright rights. Click here to see those videos.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Comic Critic Reviews "V for Vendetta"

“Divide et impera” is Latin for “divide and conquer,” which gives you an idea of just how old and how long this political tactic has been in use. In its simplest form, you might think of using it to dilute the effectiveness of your enemy on the battlefield. But what if you think of the general population as the enemy? The same tactic could be applied. And one of the best ways to implement this is to convince one sector of the population that it does not have the same merit or worth as another sector. By installing a sense of superiority into another part of the population, you can then easily create a class system. To reinforce this false superiority, you spread lies and monger fear. They’re told that unless you back the system, what little you have will be taken away from you. And if you are fed this diet consistently, you might believe that it is true. And next, you’re fighting to defend lies and ignorance. Take a look at the history of slavery in the United States. The white sharecroppers of the south were led to believe that what little they had would be taken away from them if slaves were to be given freedom. This instilled such a deep, irrational fear that the country is still trying to battle back to sanity. Look anywhere in history and you will find the seeds of mistrust, fear, hate, and ignorance being sown so that a few can more easily reign over the many. V for Vendetta pulls the viewer into looking at what defines Fascism, Totalitarianism, Anarchy, and Rebellion. The movie’s core message is only true fights should be towards an equal and just society for all. Is it then so surprising to see the mask that character V wore to suddenly spring up and be seen at protest rallies, or worn by the representatives of the hacking group Anonymous? V for Vendetta will retain its legs long into the future as its message is one that counters those who seek to reign unchecked, that is “United we stand.”

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Comic Critic Reviews "Ninotchka"

Ninotchka hit the theaters shortly before the start of World War II. The Soviet Union was still relatively young, having finished a civil war only two decades before. Ninotchka was one of the few films that depicted the newly formed idealistic communist society as a rather glum, gray, stern place to live. But the portrayal is done in a kind and gentle teasing manner, almost as an inside joke between friends. One of the key points of the film is how, with simple pleasures, the Soviet agents are seduced into decadent folly. Ninotchka is a romance comedy. As with so many romantic comedies having the man and the woman come from not only different backgrounds but also different ideologies makes for merriment as the two seek to understand each other. In this case, we have the no-nonsense party member and the warm-hearted aristocrat. The audience laughs at human failings and being caught committing a sin. The rude arbitrariness of whether it is considered a passable sin or a life-forfeiting error makes for some rather enjoyable bits of dark humor. But all of this dark humor and glum Soviet stereotypes were treated with light-hearted humor, almost innocent in its optimism and hope for a struggling country finding its footing. Ninotchka was released two months after the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany.  It would be another two years before Germany would invade the Soviet Union. During the war years that immediately followed, the Soviets were our allies and the portrayal of them on the big screen was still mostly positive. It wouldn’t be until after WWII, when the fear of communism would be used as a political tool that the Red Scare would leave an ugly scar on Hollywood. Ninotchka then has a unique place in cinematic history. It’s a light and fluffy film that carries none of the foreboding and direness which later films would inherently imply by the weight of history.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Comic Critic's Review of "A Fool There Was"

Theda Bara quickly received the name The Vamp as she was often listed as The Vampire in the credits for A Fool There Was. In an age when Victorian dress was giving way to the era of the slim-girl-look known as the Flappers, Theda Bara’s natural curves and mane of long black hair stood out. Her eyes were offset with heavy kohl makeup, her body with exotic clothing, and she was adorned with mysterious jewelry filled with symbolism. It’s no wonder she’s often seen as the prototype for the Goth look. Studios were new to publicity campaigns. Theda’s background and personality were fabricated to the extent that both the studio and the reporters couldn’t keep them straight. She was at times the daughter of a mistress of politicians, the descendant of pharaohs, or priestess to a forgotten cult. The spew of fabrication added only more fuel to the publicity fire, and soon, in a time when many silent actors didn’t even receive credit, Theda Bara became a household name. Her roles showed her as a strong-willed female using her sex as a weapon, a tool, to get what she wanted. Keep in mind, this is during the suffragette movement. Women still didn’t have the right to vote, and men usually dictated their standing in society. Most of society viewed Bara’s representation of the strong female as laden with scandal and perversity. Bara’s interviews showed her as a strong feminist. But since the characters she portrayed on screen were seen as evil, it didn’t take detractors long to imply that feminism was also evil. Bara made over forty films, and sadly the master prints to all of these were lost in the 1937 Fox vault fire. What few films that remain are the result of copies that were in outside circulation or forgotten storage. Thankfully, A Fool There Was is one of four of her films known to still exist. It’s story of a woman unashamedly manipulating men for her own gain. It’s also a story of the hypocrisy society allows, saying that a man’s poor decisions are the fault of a woman.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Comic Critic's review of "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein"

The viewing public’s reaction to Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein took Universal Studio by surprise. It was the second cheapest movie they produced that year, but was by far their biggest earner. Abbott and Costello were a known draw; they did over a dozen movies for Universal before the script for Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein came around. WWII was over, and horror movies were selecting themes suited for the Atomic Age. Universal’s collection of monsters created prior to the war years were seen as old and hokey, their franchises tired and depleted. So the studio thought they might as well squeeze the last juices out of them through a comedy farce. Not everybody liked the idea. Lou Costello was less than impressed with the writing and remarked his five-year-old daughter could write a better script. Still, the plan went ahead with the actors returning to play their original roles. All except for  Karloff, who said he would help promote the movie if he didn’t have to see it. But Universal forgot about the one thing studios always forget, the love the fans held for these old ghouls. The story was thin, the laughs were easy, but the audience loved the farce and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein went on to be one of the studio’s best grossing films of 1948, ranking 27th amongst all films that came out that year. While the movie might have been a swan song for Universal’s Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Werewolf, the studio learned their lesson and the creatures are far from retired. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, while definitely a Universal picture, is considered to be outside the franchise canon. It reinforced in the public mind that a franchise-derivative film could still be considered a stand-alone. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein would go on to influence movies and television by providing a wealth of material and inspiration for crossover and self-parody.