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 31, 2012

The Comic Critic Reviews Food of the Gods

It is a scientific fact that human brains take a long time to develop. The frontal lobes that are in charge of reason and cognitive thinking don’t become fully formed until we reach our twenties. This explains why teenagers make lousy choices and show poor judgment. It also explains why, for years, I thought Food of the Gods was a great film. Perhaps part of it had to do with my favorite horror B-movie from earlier in my childhood being The Killer Shrews. I guess there was something about giant rodents that just spoke to me. Watching Food of the Gods as an adult, I’m more than a little horrified, not only at my youthful bad judgment, but also at the treatment of rats during this film. I must warn the would-be viewer that you’re most likely going to see footage of rat snuffage on an epic scale. As a kid, I was very into grisly carnage. As an adult, I only like grisly carnage if it involves latex and dyed Karo syrup.

Tonight I will be part of Tacoma's First Night celebration. The CLAW will be at Brooks Dental Studio, 732 Broadway, Suite 101 during the course of the evening. We will be drawing people as Snakes in honor of 2013 being the year of the snake. There were folks lined up last year. I'm hoping to make up for last year when I couldn't attend due to the flu.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Comic Critic Reviews The Exorcist

I’ve taken some artistic license with my personal history in this strip. Here is what is true: I wasn’t allowed to see The Exorcist. My mother used Tammy Cox as an excuse, and that is represented in the strip, verbatim. What I can’t remember is which movie we ended up going to see instead. I also can’t remember if it was my father or my brother Randy to whom my mother gave the instructions. I do remember going to see The Sting with the entire family. And since The Sting came out within weeks of The Exorcist, it makes for good story continuity. What is also true is I didn’t see The Exorcist in its entirety until shortly before my 50th birthday. Like most of the public, I’d seen snippets of the most famous and parodied scenes. And like most of the public, I let that be enough to carry me through the years. However, after having seen all the sequels, it seemed only proper that I put some time aside to experience The Exorcist in its entirety, and I’m really glad I did. It has a pace that you don’t become aware of until you’re halfway through, at which point you realize that it’s relentless—and won’t let up until it’s over. Everything about the movie is well-honed. By the end, every scene feels like it will cut you in some horrible, unending way. Maybe I wouldn’t have slept for a week if I’d seen The Exorcist in 1973, but it would have been worth it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Regional Small Business Forum

Last Friday I attended a Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber meeting. I took some sketchnotes of the speakers of the Regional Small Business Forum. While some of the news was bleak, a fair amount of it was instructive and reassured me that businesses in the region are working to make things easier for everybody. I ran into Wade Stewart and was pleased to introduce him to Cris Lafferty. It seems that everywhere I go in Tacoma I run into Wade. Stewart runs Stewart and Sons Computer Services. This was the first time I met Cris Lafferty, but I felt that we've known each other for ages. Perhaps it's his extensive history in graphic design. It was extremely comfortable talking old-shop with him. Cris runs a company called Creative Resources.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1454

This is a follow-up on "The Walking Dead" related strip I did yesterday. I'm looking forward to this weekend. I have a couple of drawing project I need to finalize. Putting things to bed always feels good. I'm looking forward to putting myself to bed tonight.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1453

It won't take much of a google search to find numerous news articles on the story that inspired this strip.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Comic Critic Reviews The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music was a tremendous blockbuster. For a short time, The Sound of Music displaced Gone with the Wind as the number one blockbuster of all time.* What made The Sound of Music not only the most widely seen musical ever, but also reach the pinnacle of success? It could be argued that the music is infectiously catchy, or that the movie could be seen as the perfect family film. But neither of those reasons is enough to explain its success. I know the true secret of The Sound of Music: it’s nice. It’s not merely nice, it’s nice squared. It’s nice on a supremely sublime level. There’s no crass potty humor trying to instigate a laugh. The move plays the characters straight. They’re honest, joyful and pink. Their flaws are only that they feel deeply and are trying to find their way to express that feeling. Even the Nazis are dealt with in a nice way. The Sound of Music is a success because it shows us how we want the world to be—courteous, polite, nice, and filled with music from the joy of it all.

*Domestic Gross - adjusted for inflation.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Comic Critic Reviews The Godfather

Everybody is always going on about how The Godfather is a fantastic gangster movie. And, yes, I do agree; The Godfather is a cinematic masterpiece. But I wanted my review to remind the readers that other terrific gangster movies exist. In fact, an argument could be made that the decades’ accumulation of movies featuring rackets, syndicates, and mob bosses educated the public enough about organized crime. When presented with a story line of an ethnic group assimilating its heritage into a new identity revolving around American capitalism, it could be easily understood in the setting of a gangster movie. Part of the reason The Godfather was so successful is that the book was well researched and finely written. The director, arguing with the studio every step of the way, created a rich view of the Corleone world with stellar performances, thoughtful sets, incredible sound, and a haunting musical score. The Godfather is one of those rare exceptions where the movie transcends the reading experience. Indeed, the movie has such strength that four decades later, The Godfather retains the same viewing power as it did upon its release, and consistently remains prominently placed as one of the One Hundred Best Movies of All Time. But would it hurt you to watch a James Cagney or Edgar G. Robinson movie, too?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1451

When I first read this new story I immediately thought of drawing the classic scene where somebody gets hit over the head with a guitar/musical instrument. Then I thought it would be more of a challenge to draw the strip leaving that actual image out completely and just leave the reader with a the same mental that popped into my head.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Comic Critic Reviews Raiders of the Lost Ark

Serials were long gone from the theaters by the time I was born. But I was fortunate enough to see a lot of the old black-and-white movie serials on television when I was growing up. From the silent features of The Perils of Pauline to King of the Rocket Men, serials were part of my generation’s viewing culture. Thus, when Raiders of the Lost Ark was released in 1981, it was a one-two punch of success. The adults in the audience got a nostalgic flashback to their younger movie-going days. And what the kids had only experienced via the boob tube was spectacularly splashed across the silver screen. I felt that I was watching not only a sterling homage to my Dad’s films, but a movie fashioned specifically for both of us to enjoy on our own levels, and each other’s. Watching Raiders created a reverberating generational bonding moment. Raiders of the Lost Ark did much more than lay a cornerstone to a franchise. It reinvigorated the entire genre of Action Adventure within popular culture—inspiring books, videos, cartoons, comics and movies—all with the goal of recapturing that magical movie moment.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1450

In all the years I've drawn Stickman I've either man his holidays sheer hell, or a half-told series of unconnected and usually unpleasant events. So this year I thought I would just have him suddenly on his own.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1449

I was inspired to draw this strip when I realized how many people were phoning it in today when it came to work.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Comic Critic Reviews The Best Years of Our Lives

Until the release of The Best Years of Our Lives, very few movies employed post-traumatic stress as a major tool for their narratives. Until then, the stresses of war were either shown on the battle front or about an individual soldier on leave. The Best Years of Our Lives explicitly focused on soldiers’ lives after the war, yet the opening sequence cleverly introduces the idea that soldiers coming home face an entirely different battlefield. The three military men arrive in their hometown not by train or car, but by bomber. We see their anticipation of their target as they stare at the landscape unrolling beneath them. Only this time the land beneath them is their homeland. This sets the tone for churning undercurrents of emotion that prevail throughout. This movie did fantastic at the box office not only because it resonated with returning troops, but also because it resonated with the entire country, still reeling from the heavy costs of war. Harold Russell, the actor (a wartime double amputee), became the personification of America’s desire to recover, even after great loss—so much so that the Motion Picture Academy decided to give him a special Oscar for inspiring all returning vets. His nomination for Best Supporting Actor was considered a long horse, and winning that didn’t so much stun the crowd as emphasize the empathy his role generated. To this day, he remains the only actor to have received two Oscars for the same role.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1448

When I read the news story that inspired this strip, I couldn't help but wonder two things: 1. How revolting dealing with the mess must have been to humans. 2. How the wildlife in the area must have been attracted to it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1447

After I read the news story about the woman's who's last wish was to have her privates carved on her tombstone I thought up two strip ideas. I didn't have to chose between them because they could work sequentially. I then spent way too much time trying to figure out how to pull two more strips out of it for a full week of beating this topic to death before I gave you. So, good news, you will get a strip tomorrow on a whole new topic.

Yesterday I attended the Tacoma Pierce County Chamber's Annual Meeting. It was my first time going to the chamber and I was very impressed. There were hundreds of people there. I do believe I might have to become a member.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1446

I'm not going to provide a link to the news article that inspired this strip. You will just have to trust me that there is a tombstone like this out there in the world. Of course you could always Google it. But consider doing so from your home computer. Otherwise your keyword search might set off some alarms on your employer's server.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Comic Critic Reviews Around the World in 80 Days

David Niven was the perfect choice for the role of Phinneas Fog in Mike Todd’s Around the World in 80 Days: not because his calm demeanor embodied British sophistication, not because his timing was excellent, or that his natural wit expands itself in his dialog, but because even when he’s in action, you can tell–you can just tell–that he’s having fun. And when I read a story by Jules Verne, regardless of what wild fantasy or dark human characteristic that’s being explored, I can just tell that Verne was having fun, too. It’s magic to watch an actor having fun in an adventure the author had fun writing, in a film in which everybody in Hollywood is having fun as well. You should watch this film. It’ll be fun.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1444

The last time I put on a costume for Halloween was 1984. I've worn costumes since then, just not for Halloween.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1443

I promise this will be the last Justin Bieber laptop strip. At least for a while. I meant to include it in last week's theme and didn't get around to posting it until now. I've no idea of what I will post tomorrow as I let my buffer run out. My fans have been sending me in plenty of material. A lot of it involves stuff spilled on highways. But that might entail bringing back the buffalo and aliens again. Maybe I should do something Halloweenie.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Comic Critic Reviews The Cider House Rules and attends the Little Con of Horrors in Spokane, WA.

I didn’t get around to watching The Cider House Rules until 2001, long after I had added it to my must-see list after Michael Caine (one of my favorite actors) won an Oscar. The Cider House Rules also won Best Adapted Screenplay, well deserved when you consider that writer John Irving removed two characters, various subplots, and shortened the time span of the novel by 15 years. Anyway, at the time I was in the process of getting three dental fillings replaced. I also had some $1 movie rental coupons that were soon to expire. A movie marathon was just the ticket for getting my mind off everything that was happening in my mouth. Now this is the part where I tie in everything I mentioned about the movie. The $1 movie rental coupons reflect the thrift-focused time period of the movie. My dental work reflects the fear of dated and risky medical procedures. The Oscar win for Michael Caine reflects that my love for his work is justified. And I mentioned when I saw the film because I feel bad that I didn’t see it sooner. The Cider House Rules is a great film that touches on morality, law, idealism, pragmatism, and how the human condition (its emotion and frailty, combined with those odd little turns life gives us) can make us question it all.

On Sunday, October 28th I had a tables at Spokane's first Little Con of Horrors. I had the pleasure of carpooling over with Matt Youngmark. His company made the long hours of the trip there and back go by quickly. Link to photos of sketches drawn at the event here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1442 and The Little Con of Horrors

This Sunday I will be in Spokane, WA attending the Little Con of Horrors. I'll be carpooling over with Matt Youngmark, creator and author of "Zombopacolypse Now." Matt and I often end up at several of the same book signings and comic book shows together. It only makes sense that we would carpool every now and then.

And now here is your next installment of the Justin Beiber Laptop saga.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1441 & The Little King of Thrones

Last night was the CLAW's Open Swim. The theme of the evening was to reboot one of your favorite cancelled cartoon characters. I grew up with The Little King. I loved how he remained silent all the time and most of the humor were visual gags. Also loved the simplicity of the line and how the king was always in profile. The strip pretty much ended when the creator died in 1975. I was shocked that nobody else in the room even heard of him.

My fourth place prize was a boobing Jesus for the dashboard. The big winner of the event was Mark Bill with is Marvel spin-off character "Hoppy." Kudos for both obscurity and great reboot. And now back you your regular installment of stickman:

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Comic Critic Reviews Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring

I remember going to see the 1979 version of The Lord of the Rings with my brothers. My oldest brother Randy was a huge fan of Tolkien, as was I. My brother Cliff gave me a box set of the books for Christmas one year. I still have them. And I thought the movie was great. Just like my brother Randy I had great hopes that in a year or two we would be seeing the next movie. We all knew, just knew, that there was no way that The Lord of the Rings could be captured in just one movie. But our hopes dwindled as each year passed. Then I heard that Peter Jackson, yes, the same guy how made Bad Taste, was going to do it. Deep inside me, an old ember of hope for a great Lord of the Rings franchise, one that I thought died out years ago, blazed forth like the faith-blind zealot. It was going to happen! I was going to see it! And it was going to be glorious! Later I learned that Peter Jackson was inspired by the 1979 version. How could he not? It was pretty cool.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Comic Critic Reviews Siam Sunset

I was fortunate enough to vacation in Australia for three weeks. It was a wonderful, memorable experience filled with unexpected surprises, adventure, and enchanted evenings. Even before the trip, I enjoyed watching films from Down-Under. Australian films don’t try to copy Hollywood. (If anything, Hollywood tries to capture some of the magic that gets produced from the Land of Kangaroos. Too often Hollywood over-applies its well-known techniques in pursuit of a larger audience.) The reason I find Australian films so enjoyable is that they don’t worry about capturing a massive audience; they’re more concerned about the right audience finding them. Even though my wife and I stayed in Australia for nearly a month, it wasn’t long enough. We’re thankful when we can recapture some of our experiences through the movies they produce. And Siam Sunset is one of the best we’ve seen.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1439

Fans. You might have noticed a slowdown on Stickman strips. A large project is currently on my desk and will be distracting me for a few days. Stickman strips will Thursday.

Monday, October 8, 2012

the Comic Critic Reviews The Ten Commandments

Given the royalty-free status of the story, you might wonder why The Ten Commandments hasn’t undergone a slew of remakes. I can tell you why nobody is going to do a reboot of the book Exodus anytime soon: Cecil B. DeMille got it right. This movie is huge! With its huge stars, it tells a huge story, has huge special effects with huge sets and a huge cast. It easily found its way into the heart of a society whose motto is Bigger is Better and stayed there. It remains fixed as an icon because it was made with grit and sweat on a scale of size, quality, and excellence that would be nearly impossible today. A huge achievement back in the day, it remains one now. If you haven’t seen it, you must. Be sure to get the full-length version to enjoy all 220 minutes. Huge!

Can you complete the Ten Commandment Challenge?
Without looking it up on the Internet, or asking another’s help, can you write down the Ten Commandments in ten minutes? I used to go to the Mall and make this bet with total strangers. If they could do it, they would win ten dollars. In all the times I asked only once did I lose.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1438

If my work schedule allows me, I go down to Frost Park in Tacoma on Fridays and participate in a Chalk Off. The competitions will end at the end of the month as it will be too cold and wet. With today being sunny I wanted to get in as much sunshine as possible. Here's my contribution: Gravey of Summer - shot 2
You can see all the other artist's work here.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1346 &1347

I forgot to post my strip for two days. So here is yesterday's and today's. I guess you can tell I'm working on a theme.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Comic Critic Reviews Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl, and the Tacoma Zombpocalpse

One summer my cousins went to Disneyland. I remember them telling my siblings and me about all the rides. I got very excited that there was a ride called “Pirates of the Caribbean.” My father was a huge Errol Flynn fan, and he introduced me to pirate movies via “Captain Blood.” Together, we spent countless hours watching sea battles and peg-legged pirates swinging cutlasses. So when Deborah, Diane, Dina, and Denise described this ride with animatronic (freakin’ robots) pirates, my overactive mind feasted on the imagery for months. In fact, I can’t remember any other details of their trip. I think their parents were there—maybe. Anyway, when I heard that Disney had turned the ride into a movie, that little part of my brain that got ridiculously hyper as a kid got all charged up again. I was one of the first to get a ticket to that ride, erm, movie, and I loved every minute of it.

And I know several of you are wondering how I did at the Tacoma Zombpocalypse. The answer: Fantastic. Not only was this great one day show, but it was their first show, and it has topped my sales for a one day show this year. Here is a link to a group page on flickr so you can see all the fun. Kudos to my friend, Joe Manfredini, for helping me out at my table.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Return of Stickman #something-something

Sometimes I draw a buffer of strips so that I can take the morning off to do other things like go to the dentist and stuff. But then inspiration hits and I get a slew of ideas. Sometimes this slew of ideas follows a them and it only makes sense to put them all together in a week. This strip was in the hopper, but was delayed a week while I fixated on storage units. The is the real #1431, not #1435. But I don't think anybody cares. I don't even know why I'm typing this. Oh! Wait! Now I remember. I'm always curious to see how well one of my postings does when it has naughty words like porn and strippers in the labels.

 I'm also prepping for The Tacoma Zombpocalypse. Please invite your friends to it on Facebook via this event posting. Several of my friends are behind this show and I want it to be a success for them so that it will come back again next year. Tacoma needs more fun conventions like this. I'm not the only person excited about this show.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Comic Critic Reviews: The Dam Busters

Back in 1955, The Dam Busters was the biggest movie in Britain. One of my fans reminded me about this film when I asked you for Blockbusters. I’d forgotten nearly all of the details, so I watched it again. The importance of this film, and the book that inspired it, was the accuracy of the facts reported. Some of them were withheld for national security reasons, but the book got nearly all of them right. What few historical flubs there were in the movie (such as a plane crashing on the wrong side of the river) were criticized. You won’t see it played very often on television anymore because of the dog’s name, which is repeated at surprising frequency. You might think that they would just change the name of the dog. But that wouldn’t be the British thing to do. I wonder how it will be dealt with if there’s a remake.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Return of Stickmna #1433

I think you might have guessed the theme behind this week's strips. But tomorrow's strip might surprise you. I'm getting my stuff all prepped for the Jet City Comic Show this coming Saturday in Seattle. You will be able to find me at table AA06.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1432

Shiver me timbers! It's International Talk Like A Pirate Day! I totally forgot until my brother Randy reminded me. Sigh. Half the day gone with a chance to talk like a pirate. Arg.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1429

Here is the news story that inspired this strip. September and October of 2012 will find me attending several comic book shows. This might interfere with your regular delivery of The Comic Critic, so please bear with me. A few of my fans have noticed a change. Over the last several months, I’ve forgone reviewing my normal eclectic selection of movies to reviewing only highly rated movies, some of the movies I absolutely want to include in my next book, “The Comic Critic Presents Blockbusters and Wannabes.” Now I’m asking for your help. I want to know what your favorite blockbusters are. Please send in your suggestions. Feel free to suggest movie titles that are not in my archives.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1428

The news story that inspired this strip is even sadder than I make it out. When the cremation company found two, yeah, not one but two, mislaid bodies in the back of their storage unit they were a bit perplexed. Then, without a phone call, they show up at this little old lady's door, at night-time, and show her a photo of her partially decade husband and ask her to identify him. That's horrible enough, she can't get that image out of her mind. On top of that there's no answer to the other questions. Who's ashes were moved instead, and who is that other body? When I decided on this week's theme I knew I would have plenty of material to work with. I was just surprised at how much. And some of the stories, like the one that inspired this strip, provided enough material to do several strips. It's enough for me to understand the Jewish custom of having somebody sit with the dead. If nothing else, it's so you can keep track of them.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1427

I would have posted this stickman this morning, but my morning got busier than scheduled. I'm posting it out before I call it a night.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1426

You're wondering why it is that I'm posting a The Return of Stickman strip day instead of a The Comic Critic strip. The simple answer is I'm a day behind on getting The Comic Critic strip out. So I'm switching the days around and giving you this hint about how the rest of the week is going to be for Stickman.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1425

Each of the strips I did today was inspired by a news story about snakes. There should be enough clues for you to find all of them using your search engines. No snakes next week. I promise.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Comic Critic Reviews Jurassic Park

I went on vacation last week where I stayed in town and just relaxed and decompressed at home. So I'm going to post an older review about a vacation gone horribly wrong. Dinosaur movies before 1993 were a lot of fun. They came in three basic formats in various degrees of quality. First, you had the lizards covered in makeup. These poor things were poked and prodded at each other with the occasional rewarding hiss or tussle for the cameraman. Next up from that, you saw the sectional giant prop, where either a large claw or a set of jaws would swoop in from off-screen. And the best were the stop-motion animations. They might have been a little jerky looking, but it was a lot easier to suspend your disbelief with them than it was with the extras from the reptile farm. Then Jurassic Park hit the scene. Its combination of full-scale animatronics (combined with highly integrated CGI) did more than carry a sense of disbelief. You wondered if your local pet store was going to expand to make way for this new inventory of potential pets. Finally, a real look at the famed giants that so fascinated us when we were little. I bet this film did wonders for the study of paleontology, inspiring a whole new generation into its field of research.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Comic Critic Reviews Lawrence of Arabia

Every time I tried to write about Lawrence of Arabia, I found myself writing something completely different. I wrote about my childhood, the glory of the Golden Age of Hollywood, my family, and the times I spent with them watching films—and about one of my favorite actors, Peter O’Toole. After a paragraph or so, I’d find I hadn’t mentioned anything about the movie itself, so I’ve got to come back to the comment I made in the strip. This film influences you. It’s ingrained into my life to such an extent that I have a hard time just talking about it. How wonderful is it that a movie can be so good that it goes beyond entertainment, beyond culture, and practically worms itself into your DNA? Yes, I love this movie. I rarely say this, but it’s in my top ten movies of all time.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Return of Stickman #1421

When I was writing these Olympic themed strips, I wanted to poke fun at the event and not the athletes. Part of the reason is because I admire the athletes, the other part is that these Olympics have been under a microscope and a lot of the little things that folks wouldn't know about in past years have been showing up in the media along with the big gaffes. The result has been a numbness to errors. I wanted that to be my theme. Tomorrow I'm going to be at a very small community event signing my book. Tanglewilde Fun Day is located more towards Olympia than Tacoma, and I think it's heading a little off towards Yelm. Anyway, there are directions on the Facebook Event Page in the link above.