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

The Return of Stickman #1585

This strip was inspired by yesterday's strip. There is no accuracy to it because it's 'fictional.'

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.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Comic Critic's Movie Review of "Captain Horatio Hornblower"

I guess every generation has their slew of popular writers. When I was in high school, it was Stephen King. My niece was reading J.K. Rowling before I got to her. When I was a kid, I was a voracious reader and didn’t limit myself to the popular writers of the time. I actively sought advice from librarians and other reading enthusiasts as to what I should read next. And I would go through phases of reading writers of a genre or an era. One month, my attention would be consumed by Victorian authors like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells; the next month, I would be devouring the Noir fiction of Raymond Chandler. During one of those phases, I was consumed by anything nautical. I chewed up Robert Lewis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” and Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe.” And it is only natural that when I talk about how much I loved these books that I was directed to C.S. Forrester. Movies were made of all of these writers’ creations. And while I love the movies, I encourage those who’ve seen them to give the books a try. C.S. Forrester is an overlooked treasure just waiting to be rediscovered. Go ahead and watch Captain Horatio Hornblower and then pick up the book and give it a browse. I bet you will find yourself reading the entire series. You might even give some of his other books, like “The African Queen,” a try.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Comic Critic's Movie Review of "The Uninvited" from 1944

The Uninvited might seem like an unassuming horror movie that’s quite tame by today’s standards. But it’s worth noting that back in 1944 this film broke unexpected ground. Before this one, most ghosts portrayed in film were played for laughs. An example would be an object moving by itself while a comic-relief actor reacted to get a laugh from the audience. Few films dealt with ghosts as an actual supernatural presence. Paramount decided to take the novel “Uneasy Freehold” and create a supernatural mystery. The incorporation of romance comedy dialog lightens the mood, and audiences were rewarded with a surprise second romance. There are little surprises hiding everywhere in The Uninvited. There’s a touch of psychodrama, a hint of possible lesbian activity, and a very good musical score. The composition “Stella by Starlight” became a jazz standard played by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis. The cinematography is top-notch and did a great job of creating shivers and goosebumps. The Uninvited received an Oscar Nomination for its cinematography, but lost to LauraThe Uninvited was a scary movie in its day. It inspired many directors and writers. And it had to be toned down by British censors by the removal of some special effects for its release in Great Britain.

Friday, October 30, 2015

There are times when my editor, wife and fans don't send me any news articles to work from. At times like that I will often use the first thing I see. Too often it's something I've seen on Facebook. I then spend the next hour researching to make sure that it's true. And by research I mean that I stay on Facebook and look at cat videos. Then I get distracted by the Internet. I have no idea if there ever was a study like this. But I do know that the set up made for a good gag and I didn't have to proofread too many of the words.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Comic Critic's Review of "Bell, Book and Candle"

Bell, Book and Candle, like many other romance comedies, is set at Christmas. It’s a hilarious movie with witty dialog, terrific star power, and an enchanting story that appeals to the American audience. When I was growing up, it circulated on television as often as any other classic movie from that era. It has the magical power of pulling you onto the sofa—even if you didn’t see the beginning—and to remain on that channel. Sol Saks admits that he took inspiration from Bell, Book and Candle, as well as a 1942 film called I Married a Witch, when he created the highly successful television show Bewitched. And yet you will not see this movie on any Christmas movie line-up, a shame really. I have a theory about it. When Saks created Bewitched, he focused on magic as amusement, not social commentary. Bell, Book and Candle is rather sly about its social commentary. The story takes place in Greenwich Village, a prime location for beatnik counter-culture. The witches of the film are attributed as part of the colorful counter-culture. The setting of the film is during Christmas, a pagan holiday enveloped by Christians and even more decorated with trappings by American consumption. One of the first scenes occurs in a gallery exhibiting African art. Over the years, I believe it is this subtle irreverence about Christmas, along with the story ending after the holiday, which eased Bell, Book and Candle out of the holiday movie line-up. But it’s these same elements that make the movie intriguing and ripe for rediscovery with today’s audience.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1581

There have been several times when I've questioned the use of a service animal. Maybe that makes me old fashion. Maybe I just like the idea that the only people who should be walking around with a parrot on their shoulder in public should either be selling photos of the parrot sitting on your shoulder or pirates. But it would be politically incorrect if I said the same thing about monkeys. And for the record, I think everyone should have monkeys.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1580

Cartoonists are always looking to do poop jokes. Don't ask me why. But I've yet to met a cartoonist who hasn't done one. I'm surprised that there are not more poop related cartoons out there.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1579

This really does happen to me. The first time I discovered a piece of art I created in the wild it was like a jolt. When it happens now I revel in those brief seconds where I don't recognize it as my work and I'm busy critiquing it in my head. It pleases me that most of those critiques are positive.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1578

When I was sent this news article I immediately scribbled the first half of the dialog. But it's the last panel that really sells the gag.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews "These Final Hours"

These Final Hours is an Australian film addition to the End-of-the-World genre that’s been popular the last few years. There is extreme violence and nudity, a significant amount more of naked, gyrating flesh than was seen in Ozsploitation films like Turkey Shoot. But the impression of exploitation is driven away by the depth of emotions felt by the film’s characters. These Final Hours is not a comedic treatment of the apocalypse like Seeking A Friend for the End of the World. What little humor found here is dark and elbowed out of the way: It is the story of a typical, self-centered guy who mucked about his entire life and now, with only a few hours left, is forced to realize that he has to rapidly struggle with his neglected choices about what is important in life. Viewing These Final Hours is a visceral, gut-wrenching experience filled with meaning. You are left seriously wondering just how you’d fare under the same circumstances.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1576

I drew this a couple of weeks ago. I've been very lazy about posting my stickman strips. Well, I have a few ready in the hopper so maybe you won't have to wait so long for the next one.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews "GOG"

It’s important to remember that GOG was released in 1954, three years before Sputnik would orbit the planet. At the time, it was seen as yet another novelty movie to feature 3D special effects. As a science fiction film it tried to capture and show ideas that were foreign. And while the terminology used in the film didn’t make its way into common use, the concepts shown did come to fruition: Solar Power Stations, Solar Powered Space Stations, A Space Race, even Wi-Fi. The problem with GOG is that a ton of the “High-Tech” in the movie was shown in such an extremely hokie manner that GOG came across as silly. The ample amounts of boring stock footage didn’t help. If done better, maybe the message of the upcoming space race would have touched the audience. As it was, it was not this movie, but Sputnik flying over the heads of Americans that caused an immediate shift in our society to fast-track math and science education in public schools. Now with computers in our pockets and little kids launching satellites into space as classroom projects, GOG is nothing more than a slightly boring film, laughable for its cigarette-smoking mindset and absurdities. Just why would a top-secret underground installation have not just one, but two flamethrowers?

Do you want a sneak peak?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews "Turkey Shoot"

In the ‘70s and ‘80s a number of organizations both inside and outside the Australian government began providing grants to encourage Australian filmmaking. To establish this system, they needed movies that showed that they could make a profit. Exploitation films showed a return in other countries. So Aussie production outfits went for the low-hanging fruit. Turkey Shoot is an excellent example. Part dystopian future, part prison camp, it used every form of “exploitation” it could think of to entice an audience with low expectations of excellence to buy a ticket. Nudity, torture, sadism, excessive violence, they were all thrown in with only the weakest of dialog and story structure to hold it together. Turkey Shoot did not do well in Australia. Nor did it fare well in the USA, where it was titled Escape 2000. However, it was a different story in England. The writers of the movie thought it would be cute to name the evil commander of the prison camp Thatcher in homage to the then prime minister of England, Margaret Thatcher. When it came time to release this dredge of a movie in England, it was renamed Blood Camp Thatcher with the hope that the name would draw audiences. It did, significantly enough that the losses in Australia and America were overcome, and the movie was successful in making a profit. Don’t be surprised if you see familiar faces in Turkey Shoot. Every actor and celebrity in Australia from the small screen to the big screen wanted to participate in founding the Australian film industry. What I find sad is how everything that was seen as over-the-top in exploitation back in the ‘70s and ‘80s has almost become standard fare in the mainstream movies of today. Oh, by the way, Turkey Shootpasses the Bechdel Test. In 2014, another Australian film named Turkey Shoot was released. There are some similarities: prisoners, dystopian future, deadly chase, etc. But it follows the influence of The Running Man more than 1982’s Turkey Shoot.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews "This Gun for Hire"

I was so distracted when I started to sketch this strip. I had to remind myself that I was reviewing a movie, not its history.  This Gun for Hire is a classic Noir film. So I made Noir the theme of my strip. But there is so much more in This Gun for Hire than just being Noir that I want to talk about the elements that made this movie a hit. The director, Frank Tuttle, was known for his work on comedy and Noir, so there are light bits of humor that come across as honest. Our heroine, played by Veronica Lake, looks marvelous throughout because Edith Head was in charge of her wardrobe.  While Robert Preston, an actor who would be popular in a large number of films, was cast as the leading man, it would be Alan Ladd who would steal this movie in a role that made his career. The screen chemistry between Ladd and Lake would be captured in later films. Then there’s Laird Cregar. This film is filled with lots of strong character actors. I love character actors. And I love it when their talent is recognized and they are taken out of character roles. Cregar was just such an actor. His talent was undeniable, and his onscreen presence brought a film to life. He was on his way up. If you’re wondering why he isn’t a household name, it’s because he died tragically at the young age of 31 in 1944. This is why I was getting distracted. Everyone involved with this production did good work and This Gun for Hire’s success was because of that good work. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention that the movie poster for This Gun for Hire’s movie poster is a stellar design that has been emulated many times. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews "Stranger than Paradise"

The date I went to see Stranger than Paradise was one of the, if not the worst, dating experiences of my life. The bleak, dark humor of the movie didn’t help the situation. If anything, the movie only amplified the confused and disjointed emotions I felt that evening. Going to a movie with happy friends and family can create a memorable experience that fills your heart with joy every time you think of that film. Unfortunately, a regrettable outing to the theater can also produce a strong negative association with a film. My take on Stranger than Paradise is heavily swayed by the sheer anguish I felt that evening. Never had I hoped so hard for a movie to carry me away somewhere else. Unfortunately for me, Stranger than Paradise’s theme was all about being stuck right where you were—forever. Oh, god. It felt like forever. The only way I could review this movie was by drawing just a small sliver of the pain of that miserable, horrible evening.

It was only after I was putting the final touches on this strip that I realized I already reviewed this movie back in 2005! Apparently the rating the movie received suffered with age. Also, I got the release date wrong last time.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1575

If you have can locate it, the slide show some of the museum offerings are pretty interesting. Some of the wax figures are still recognizable. Others will puzzle you for a while. I like wax museums and dioramas. But I'm not sure I'd have the courage to walk through this one.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1574

I drew this strip a few weeks ago back when the news story first broke. It's been sitting on my desk waiting its turn. Good luck finding the news story that inspired it. Tonight will be the second gather of an online drawing group: Epic Sketch Time.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1573

Yikes! It's been over a month since I did my last Stickman strip. I've been wicked busy doing paperwork this last month. It's been a bit of a drag because I've not had time to draw things like this. Hopefully I will get a chance to draw tonight at a new online drawing group: Epic Sketch Time.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews "They Live"

On Saturday, August 1, 2015 I woke to the very sad news that “Rowdy” Roddy Piper died in his sleep of a heart attack at the age of 61. While I was never a huge fan of Wrestlemania, its presence made itself well known in my generation. John Carpenter was greatly impressed by “Rowdy’s” performances and sought him out as the leading man for They Live. The film was not a weekend blockbuster. But it did survive its immediate negative reviews to go on to be an American Science-Fiction standard. Its iconic sunglasses came to represent a populace discovering the truth of its oligarchy. And its fight scene has become one of the great movie fight scenes receiving homage in both television and film.  “Rowdy” would continue his acting career in a playful manner. Shameless as the lead in Hell goes to Frogtown, or as himself in Man on the Moon, he enjoyed himself in any role. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper embodied life, which makes his untimely death a true loss to the entertainment industry and a hard blow for his now-grieving fans. R.I.P. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, thanks for the show.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Comic Critic review "The Manitou"

The unquestionably absurd premise of The Manitou is that lump on the back of a woman’s neck turns out to be the growing fetus of a four-hundred-year-old shaman going through the process of reincarnation. But the folks who made The Manitou picked it up and ran with it. While this film may not be one of Tony Curtis’s finest or rate a “Classic” status, it does show a lot more creativity and inventiveness than the current derivative spewing of horror movies. The Manitou captured my imagination when I saw it as a high-school teenager. In contemplating how I would review The Manitou, I groped for a way to show my enthusiasm while still commenting on the outlandish premise. I looked at how different my life is now than when I was a teenager. Showing a couple in-the-bathroom-grooming comes from a married man’s perspective. Once I had that angle, the strip basically wrote itself.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1572

The tragic truth is that you can't take it with you. Most of my house is filled with stuff that has meaning for me, yet have little or no real value to others. Some items might be looked upon as kitschy. I have a large Tunaki piggy bank I brought home from Japan. I associate it with all the good memories of the months I lived there in 1979 & 1980. With age the fake fuzz is peeling off. I also have various gifts that people have given me that hold no value other than they are a gift from a friend. If my wife and I died tomorrow I'm pretty sure that nearly everything we own would either end up in a landfill or would be on a thrift store shelf. I know stuff in my office closet I will never need again. Why do I hang onto it?

 One year I made a New Year Resolution that each week I would fill up a cardboard box (a standard filing box) with stuff that I would either donate or toss. This was a lot harder to do than I thought. I managed to fill up the box only 48 times out of those 52 weeks. It was like pulling teeth. And now I can't even tell you what was inside those boxes. On top of that I noticed a something terrible: I got new stuff to replace the old stuff. So, I didn't end up cleaning out anything at all. The new crap stuff just meant more to me than the old crap stuff.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Comic Critic's Review of "The Flight of the Phoenix"

The 1965 release of The Flight of the Phoenix is my favorite. I wished I’d seen it on the big screen. I could only imagine how much more captivated I would have been than seeing it on television. As it was, any time it came on, I was instantly lured into watching it again. The story of these men trying to survive in the desert while they worked together with the trust that one of them just might be smart enough to save all their lives was enthralling. When I heard about the remake, I hurried to the theater in the hopes that I would re-experience that thrilling adventure through a new crafting of the story. What I got was–not the same thrill. Apparently, the powers-that-be thought the story could use a few more explosions, obvious testosterone, and a hammy chase scene. Each addition was overly garish. I felt I was looking at a waitress’s overly flared apron instead of a movie. Until I saw the second one, I had not realized what restraint had been enforced in the first movie to make it work for the better.  The second is a fun film. The first is a thriller. In drawing this review, I showed elements that exist in both that I liked so much.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews "Citizen Kane"

How Green is My Valley, Blossoms in the Dust, , Here comes Mr. Jordan, Hold Back the Dawn, The Little Foxes, The Maltese Falcon, One Foot in Heaven, Sergeant York, Suspicion, and Citizen Kane—these were the Best Picture nominees for the 1942 Academy Awards. And while Citizen Kane would win two Oscars that evening, How Green is My Valley would walk away with Best Picture. Yet, it is Citizen Kane that has become heralded as a Cinematic Masterpiece. It’s usually listed in any top-100 film list and is featured as a top- ten choice in several others. Some might say that Citizen Kane is the rightful holder of Best Picture by sheer merit. But look back at the nominee list. The Maltese Falcon and Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion have also become well-known landmarks in film. This is why I enjoy investigating films that have been nominated by the Academy. Sure, the winners are worth watching, but true treasure can be found in the nomination list. One of my other favorites nominated in 1942 is Sergeant York. It might not be the must-see that Citizen Kane is, but I found it an extremely entertaining film.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews "The Longest Day"

I’ve seen The Longest Day over a dozen times. But I’ve only seen it uncut a few times. Most of my viewings were via broadcast television where its three-hour-length jostles was compromised by commercials. The Longest Day is a docudrama about the Allies’ invasion of Normandy. A docudrama is just what it sounds like. Parts of it do a pretty good job of providing details of that fateful day, like names and locations. The drama part is everything else. The scale of production for The Longest Day was huge. So large, in fact, that three different directors were assigned to different countries at the same time to meet the production deadline. And there was no shortage of stars for this film. Both Richard Burton and Roddy McDowall flew over from the stalled production of Cleopatra to participate. The Longest Day would receive five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. But there were a lot of great films that year and the Best Picture win went to Lawrence of Arabia.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1571

This is an actual dream I had. I should mentioned that I was not a collaborator. This dream was the result of my brain being lazy. I'd just watched "Went the day well?" before heading off to bed. Actually, the thing I watched before being to bed was an episode from an anime series about boy's high school volleyball. Somehow that didn't make it into my dream, but the Nazis did.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1570

I can promise you at least two Stickman strips this week. This first is about my concern about invasive species.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews "The Creation of the Humanoids."

I really was very young when I saw The Creation of the Humanoids. It had a very lasting effect on me. Until then, I never considered what a thin line there might be between man and machine. How much of a person’s personality is nature and how much is nurture? What defines a creature as being biological? Is being biological a requirement for consciousness? It was all very heady stuff. It’s a good thing The Creation of the Humanoids didn’t have dazzling special effects, roaring chase scenes, or fireball explosions to distract me from those talking heads. My young mind was doing its best to keep up with the implications of their discussions. The acting in this film is very stiff. It’s not improved by the cinematography. Nearly all the scenes are unanimated people talking to each other. But as I watched The Creation of the Humanoids again, all these decades later, I was  struck by how many of the film’s predictions or concepts have came true. I’m also amazed at how the dialog, while a bit uninspiring, continues to touch on relevant social issues, such as surveillance, sexual freedom, relationships, and what constitutes a partnership. You might find The Creation of the Humanoids a clunky old sci-fi movie, but I challenge you to compare it to modern science fiction movies. See if current productions touch on as many social issues, or if they are just eye candy. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Comic Critic reviews The Big Sleep

I can understand the need for a director to call an actor back after filming to add some voice-over. Sometimes this is crucial. But what drives me to distraction is that too often it’s used as a lazy shortcut. I dislike movies that are whittled down to the lowest attention-span denominator. The audience doesn’t need to be led by the hand through each and every scene. And when it comes to the genre of Mystery, it’s an absolute crime. What I love are movies that forge ahead with the understanding that the audience has enough intelligence to keep up, or at least will put in an effort to see where the pieces fit. The Big Sleep keeps the viewer riveted because it’s not easy to follow, or even keep up with the events unfolding. When you do receive an exposition, it’s only at the end. Also, the number of tricks and lazy shortcuts of familiar tropes is kept to a minimum. Because The Big Sleep is so well constructed, it has held up over the decades. On top of that, you have superb acting—not only by the stars, but also by some of the best character actors in the business. If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a real treat.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews "Frank" 2014

Frank is a tale of a quirky weirdo. Or I should say it’s a quirky weirdo story. Such stories generally fall into three categories:
• The quirky weirdo who is completely confident in who they are.
• The quirky weirdo who’s trying to find out who they are.
• The quirky weirdo who confuses striving to be something with striving to be something other than who you are. Frank dips into all three categories. The movie has us guessing which is being employed at any given time. Along the way, the audience gets to vicariously revel in the antics of the characters. The hope of the quirky-weirdo genre fan is to experience a new series of outlandish events that show whimsy and odd humor. While there is some whimsy involved, Frank’s odd humor has a nihilist feel with all of the appeal of an old ashtray. Utilitarian if you’re a smoker, a little distasteful if you aren’t.

RR Anderson, fellow CLAW founder, and proprietor of Tinkertopia, asked me to do this review. Other movies he asked me to review were Rubin & Ed and Rubber.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews V/H/S

I enjoy watching anthologies. Perhaps it’s because my first anthology viewing experience was the thoroughly entertaining 1972 release of Tales from the Crypt. I can’t remember how my ten-year-old eyes managed see this treasure, but I was the perfect demographic for the stories it told. I’ve been a sucker for horror anthologies ever since. VHS does a superb job of following a theme for its anthology. Yes, it falls into the “found footage” genre, but the use of dated video equipment was purposeful, giving a vintage feel to the worst aspects of home recording. The footage itself is humanity at its worst: sleazy hidden-camera shots, captured public sexual assault, vandalism, and other assorted activities that, when found by the police, usually land the scuzballs involved in jail. What actually does find and collect these videos, well, I won’t spoil it for you. I’m not a fan of the “found-footage” genre, but VHS did okay sticking to its theme. It’s a solid enough film that it launched a franchise.

BTW: This is my 1,000th blog posting on eBlogger.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Comic Critic reviews The Grey

Amongst wilderness-survival films, The Grey is unique. The genre’s formula includes a journey of self-discovery for the cast. This is superbly done in The Grey by the clever use of literal metaphors crafted so well into scenes that audiences are not bludgeoned with their meaning during the action. Viewers do catch up, but by then another action sequence with more hidden metaphors is underway. By the end of the film, audiences are coming to grips with the experience. They are left mulling what they discover with what might still be hidden. Any survival film that makes you think that much is well worth seeing.

Only four more days to Emerald City Comic Con. Woo Hoo!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

“The Comic Critic Presents Blockbusters” will make its official debut at Emerald City Comic Con.

Click to enlarge
Since the release of my first book, “The Comic Critic Presents Seldom Seen Films,” I’ve received numerous requests for a collection of movie reviews featuring big hit films. I’m proud to say that said book is finally here. For my second, and newest book, I picked not only top grossing films, but also films the public loved. Not all of these blockbusters are Oscars, but nearly all of them are, and many received nominations.

I also listened to my fans and added new features to “Blockbusters.” I still rate the movies on a scale of one-to-ten, but now these ratings can be found in the index as well as in the review. The commentary for each cartoon will let you know how many Oscars the movie won, and if it won best picture. I made a few other improvements as well. But I want you to see them for yourself when you pick up a copy.

My table at Emerald City Comic Con is B-04. Once you go up the escalators turn left and enter via the Atrium Lobby. Once you’re through the doors turn left you will find me almost immediately along the wall on the left. I’m situated equal distance between the Ladies and the Mens, so I’m sure you will be visiting me more than once.

Click to enlarge

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Comic Critic reviews Killing Them Softly

The theme of Killing Them Softly is economic collapse. Various radio and television clips provide a stream of politician giving their spin on the economic crisis. These broadcasts are aired in beater cars, back alley restaurants and bars that were dives when they were built. Even the airport and hotel rooms leave us feeling drab, as they are barren of any human warmth. It’s all a landscape for a dark comedy; too bad we never feel any sympathy for the larceny filled creatures that inhabit this landscape. Right off the bat we are introduced to two of the sleaziest. Regrettably these scumbags are going to be the only characters the audience can build a connection. But they’re such repulsive losers that nobody wants to put in the effort. As a result it’s hard to feel anything for anyone is this bleak world. When their lives collapse-just like the economy-we’re left hoping for better days.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1567

This strip was inspired by a pet project I'm working on in which I'm drawing obscure horror movie monsters and aliens. Check out the true origins of Kang and Konos.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1566

This is another strip inspired by true life events. I was going for the we're-all-in-the-same-boat laugh. This joke is intimate because getting sleep is a very person experience. Also, this kept happening for like a week straight. I was worried that I was training myself to wake up to the neighbor's car door.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews This Is Spinal Tap

Mockumentaries have been around for a long time, since the ‘60s. The earliest music-themed one I can think of is “A Hard Day’s Night” by the Beatles. This is Spinal Tap breathed new life into the genre in the ‘80s. The movie created a set of memorable scenes and enduring lines of petulant behavior, making it an immediate sensation. A flood of mockumentaries, followed, each seeking to make its own mark on the genre. But few would break away from the formula of success blazed by Spinal Tap. Decades later, in a world filled with found-footage, reality-footage, and YouTube videos, Spinal Tap remains at a pinnacle that other faux attempts still attempt to achieve.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews Exit Through the Gift Shop

I avoid documentaries because most that I’ve seen have been incredibly depressing environmental or society snuff films that leave me feeling I just spent too much money for the privilege of consuming some bland, ethnic-fusion cuisine destined to attack my toilet in thirty minutes. And most documentaries last much longer than thirty minutes. So, I get excited when I learn something truly interesting in a unique way. In Exit Through the Gift Shop, we’re thrown all the questions revolving around art, its meaning, its creation, and the motivation of its creators that we traditionally expect, but they are delivered seductively. A key component to a documentary’s success is its ability to virally spread its information. I was inspired to tell others about Exit Through the Gift Shop not because I was feeling guilty or concern over the subject matter, but because I found it wonderfully interesting.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1565

Insomnia is not something I deal with. Yes, I do have the occasional night where sleep eludes me. But for the most part I'm gifted with the ability to fall asleep quickly, practically anywhere. That doesn't mean I look forward to the alarm clock. Like most of the world, I'd like to roll over and go back to sleep. This morning I woke an hour before my alarm went off and I was extremely grateful that I could lay back down and quickly fall back into slumber for a while longer. It's mornings like today when I remember a quote from George Orwell, "Sleep is the poor man's narcotic."

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Comic Critic Reviews CUBE

Cube goes a little farther than your standard horror movie. Its grim setting takes on a science-fiction edge when you realize there is a larger puzzle at work. It also makes you ask questions. Who are these people? Why are they here? What’s the point of it all? These are very existential questions. Most people try not to think about them while they go about their daily lives. But with its combination of repetitive tasks and mental hoops to jump through, Cube forces you to ask these questions. You might start watching Cube because you heard that there was some slice-and-dice action, but you will find yourself engaging with the characters on a deeper level than you anticipated. When that engagement turns on you, that’s when things get scary. Is it considered a horror movie or a science-fiction movie when you’re challenged to remember that every moment you’re alive is a game of life and death?

It feels great to be drawing movie reviews again. The layout and cover for my next book is done. I've got an email to the printer trying to get it into production. I'm worried it won't be done by ECCC but I can say that it's on its way. I'm also working on another movie project that won't take as long. I think I will do a Kickstarter for it. I'll let you know.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Return of Stickman #1564

You will be happy to know that the Harvard Profession who inspired this story has since issued an apology. I think my New Year's Resolution should be not to recognize my problems as first world problems before I get all bent out of shape.