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, March 25, 2013

The Comic Critic Reviews Wings

One of the reasons Wings beat out The Racket and Seventh Heaven for Best Picture was due in part to Charles Lindberg’s successful crossing of the Atlantic in the Spirit of Saint Louis, rekindling the public’s interest in aviation. This enthusiasm resulted in longer ticket lines and kept Wings in the theater longer. It’s also the only truly silent movie to win Best Picture as rapid innovation introduced sound to film. Wings, with brief nudity and men kissing men, also came in under the wire before the industry began imposing self-censorship.

I had a very hard time writing the script for this strip. The story is pretty basic. I needed a way to differentiate it from other war movies while also putting the movie in its place in history. Should I mention Lindberg? Should I make fun of a silent movie? (You might notice that there are no voice bubbles or onomatopoeia used in the strip.) I was distracted by the fact that it won the first Best Picture Academy Award. Once I embraced the notion that I should dedicate more than a small caption mentioning the award, various ideas I had for the remaining frames reshuffled and finally fell into place.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has always been a bit of a snobbish affair. The brainchild of Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM (Metro-Goldman-Mayer), it didn’t start with an awards ceremony in mind. Rather, Mayer wanted to resolve labor disputes in a way that wouldn’t tarnish the public’s perception of the film industry. Keep in mind the timing. The Great Depression was just beginning. The labor movement would soon be backed by a previously unimagined horde of the destitute and unemployed. Folks went to the movies to escape their worries, not to be reminded of them. So, Mayer gathered the heads of his various departments to talk about creating a group to handle arbitration quietly (while maintaining a public face of “peers striving for excellence”). It’s not surprising that producers, directors, actors, writers, and technicians each wanted their interests represented. They also wanted to be selective; the group would be by invitation only. The idea of giving awards was mentioned, but that took a back seat to the organization’s primary goal. That’s why it took a couple of years before the awards ceremony jelled. But once the organization realized that the awards ceremony could serve as a fantastic public relations tool, it wasn’t long before a dinner party at a hotel turned into a grand red-carpet spectacle. Still, the first evening of awards was a pretty simple affair with a lot of concern over the state of the union and affairs at home. It’s not all surprising that overseas productions weren’t even on the docket.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Return of Stickman #1466 & 1467

I've neglected my The Return of Stickman strip the last few weeks. That happens whenever I have looming deadlines that need attending. I know you folks have missed them. So I will do my best to keep a steady stream of them coming.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Comic Critic Reviews Monty Python's Life of Brian

I drew this strip in honor of the late Judy Burnett. Judy was a supporter of Cartoonists Northwest, a group in Seattle I’ve belonged to for a number of years. Aside from the group’s annual awards ceremony we hardly ever ran into each other. She was a fan of my work, and Life of Brian was one of her favorite movies. When I heard of her death, I was saddened that I would never again be warmed by her charming, vivacious personality. I was also bummed that I never got around to reviewing Life of Brian for her. I had delayed working on it because it’s difficult to review what many see as one of the best comedies ever made, one that I found only fairly amusing. I also felt a little awkward talking about Life of Brian because the one scene that did manage to shock the little Puritan in me was the full frontal of the character Judith’s overgrown muff. (Somebody please tell me that thatch was purposely choreographed. If it wasn’t, my embarrassment is going to know no bounds.)

Judy Burnett was a friend, and she’s going to get her review, however belatedly and how uncomfortable doing the review makes me.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Comic Critic Reviews Seeking A Friend for the End of the World

I’m a big fan of dark comedies. In the very first minute of Seeking A Friend for the End of the World the viewer is embedded with the understanding that humanity’s last hope has been squelched and the existence of everything is coming to an end. Where this movie succeeds is in accepting what the end of everything means and laughing in its face. The everyday illusion that life will go on and on, that existence will go on and on, is just that, an illusion. The various ways we choose to confront that, from denial to acceptance, all have their foibles. And it’s hard not to laugh at that merry little dance. The movie also has a fantastic soundtrack. Sure, you might know what twenty songs you would like to take with you to a desert island. But what if you could only listen to twenty songs once more? What would those songs be?