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, October 31, 2016

Drawlloween 2016

A new holiday tradition for artists, both armature and professional, is to participate in month long drawing challenges. Inktober is for those you are strictly staying within the pen and ink medium. Drawlloween is for any medium. Each provides a calendar in which suggested themes for each day are given. Once your image is ready you post in on social media with a hash tag so that others who are participating can see what you what you came up with. Aside from that there are no rules. In years past I followed Inktober’s website and posted images to his blog there. This year I decided to do the Drawlloween calendar, but to still stick to an ink brush as my medium. I was successful in doing one a day and here you can see my whole collection for the month. Happy Halloween!

Day 1 - Return from the Dead

Day 2 - Carnival Creeps

Day 3 - Mummy Monday

Day 4 - Tentacle Tuesday

Day 5 - Better Gnomes & Goblins

Day 6- Urban Legends

Day 7 - What Lies In the Mist?

Day 8 -  8 Legs & 1,000 Eggs

Day 9 - He's A Dummy, Doll.

Day 10 - Demonday

Day 11 - Slimy Swamps, Foggy Bogs

Day 12 - I've Got A Hunchback

Day 13 - Thursday the Thirteenth

Day 14 - Scarecrow Row

Day 15 - Drive-In Creature Feature

Day 16 - Full Moon

Day 17 - Mad Science Monday

Day 18 - Nosfera-tuesday

Day 19 - Witchcraft Wednesday

Day 20 - Horses & Headless Men

Day 21 - Phantom Fhriday

Day 22 - Bat-urday

Day 23 - Superstition Sunday

Day 24 - Mechanical Monstrosity

Day 25 - Entombed Tuesday

Day 26 - They Came From Outer Space!

Day 27 - Call of C'thursday

Day 28 - Ghost-A-Go-Go

Day 29 - Black Caturday

Day 30 - Skulls & Skeletons

Day 31 - Trick 'R' Treat!

I'm looking forward to participating next year.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad"

When I was growing up, a “Sinbad” movie meant that I was in for a visual treat. Ray Harryhausen, the master of stop-motion model animation, was involved in the creation of three Sinbad movies: The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973), and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977). Harryhausen experimented with different films and continually improved his technique to produce the most vivid display of moving creatures ever seen on the big screen. In The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, his magic brings inanimate objects to life as our hero sets out on a noble quest. While he has courageous friends to help him, his adversary is an evil man who will stop at nothing to achieve his own goal. And crossing their paths along this journey is an array of mythical beasts with which they must contend. There’s plenty of swashbuckling and thrills on this grand adventure. While I love all of Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbads, I selected The Golden Voyage of Sinbad to review for a few reasons. It was the first Sinbad movie I got to see in the theater. I was eleven, and it left a very strong impression on me. Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger was released only a few years later and did extremely well at the box office. However, the approach to that story has a bit more camp. By then, a little more camp was fine in my book. But the stronger storytelling in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad is why I chose it to immortalize in a cartoon review. My hope is that you will become intrigued with how Ray Harryhausen works his magic in the others. And don’t stop there; there are lots of Sinbad movies that both predate and follow the Harryhausen flicks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "The Adventures of Robin Hood"

I find it difficult to describe how much I love The Adventures of Robin Hood. There are so many things that make it great. First, the color. Technicolor is not just one, but multiple layers of film, each layer a different color. The result was not merely color, but deep, rich color perfect for fantastic settings. Years later, this would prove an advantage in film restoration. The designers of the day took advantage of strong colors, installing as many lurid hues as possible. Next would be the thespians. Not only do you have several lead actors, but also a plethora of talented character actors, each one nearly stealing a scene from the next. Then you have the script, with dialog ranging from simple to flowery, depending on the scenes. And there are action sequences with individual fights, grand melees, and lots of arrows. A professional archer was hired to shoot all of those arrows, so stuntmen and regulars alike had real arrows shot into balsawood hidden under their clothing. And then there’s the music, as rousing and flamboyant as could be desired in such a swashbuckler. The Adventures of Robin Hood is a shining example of what could be accomplished under the old studio system, when a cast of hundreds could be summoned overnight. It’s also a stellar example of what Hollywood could do, taking a legendary tale and making it even more magical. As for the tale of Robin Hood himself, most movies made afterwards couldn’t help but borrow from this wonderful, lavish work of art.

Winner of three Academy Awards.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "Fantastic Voyage"

The Cold War inspired a genre of technology-race movies. Fantastic Voyage was novel in that it was about reduction technology. Then add to that the concept of seeing the human body from the inside on a cellular level—fantastic is the word. Audiences came to see how ingenious Hollywood could be in depicting the human anatomy with all its functions. This movie often played on television when I was growing up. What little kid wouldn’t be excited about seeing a submarine journeying through veins? The Proteus was rather cool-looking for the day. I loved the cool glass dome on the roof and the big fins. I wasn’t concerned about the Cold War aspects of the film. For me it was all about the cool-looking stuff, the giant cells, what they did, and the lasers. There have been a lot of other reduction sci-fi films over the years—some of them pretty good, like Inner Space. But nothing beats Fantastic Voyage as a classic that influenced pop culture. I wanted this strip to reflect my childlike excitement for Fantastic Voyage.

Winner of two Academy Awards.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "The Great Escape"

The Great Escape is a rousing action film. Some might argue that it’s nothing more than that. Its portrayal of a real WWII prison camp escape is less than perfect, with several alterations to draw in and entertain American audiences. And appeal to audiences it did. There were a lot of good movies competing at the box office when it was released, and yet The Great Escape managed to be one of the top-grossing films that year. One of the reasons it did so well was its large international cast. There was no single hero, but a collection of highly talented actors doing their best to capture the camaraderie and inventiveness of true prisoners of war. In fact, several members of the cast had been actual prisoners of war. There’s no doubt that Steve McQueen, who was a fast-rising star, did his best to stand out. His role in The Great Escape cemented his position as a superstar. His insistence on a motorcycle chase in the movie proved to have helped build the excitement of the escape. But Steve McQueen was only one of several actors who received great exposure; there were also James Garner, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasense, James Coburn and Richard Attenborough. Many of these actors were already known by audiences; The Great Escape just gave them even more screen time. While The Great Escape was nominated for a number of awards, it didn’t walk away with very many. It did receive a Top Ten Films award from the National Board of Review. It was a small acknowledgement of a film that was well received by the public and which had the legs to continue on to become a movie classic. You just can’t go wrong viewing this movie.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "The Quiet Man"

The Quiet Man captivates audiences. From the first scene to the last, viewers are engrossed in the characters, the dialog, and the next turn of events. A casual viewing of The Quiet Man will provide entertainment. But you will find that you can’t casually watch this film. Bits of a deeper story are provided at every moment. They catch in your mind like fish in a net. And a smile will creep across your face as you start pulling in the net because you know this is going to be a sweet haul. The studio’s head honchos wanted John Ford to cut its length from 129 minutes to 120 minutes based on their assumption that an audience wouldn’t sit still for longer than two hours. When Ford showed the honchos the film, the screen went white right in the middle of the climactic fight scene. Ford informed the studio brass that they were at the 120-minute mark, and if they were dying to see the rest of the movie, so would the theater-going public. The studio executives let Ford have his nine minutes. Watch The Quiet Man, and you’ll be glad they did.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "Murder by Death"

A lot of truly great films came out in 1976, but Murder by Death wasn’t one of them. Critics kindly referred to it as “breezy.” Another word that popped up was “insubstantial.” Even some of the actors involved in the production were a little concerned about how it would be received. True,Murder by Death did not deliver high drama, nerve-rattling suspense, or any deep moral questions. What it did provide was a light, fluffy, humorous tone while being blatantly rude with political incorrectness. And the audiences loved it. They let their hair down, relaxed, and let loose with guffaws and hoots over simple gags and repeating jokes. The movie allowed them to indulge in guilty pleasures, leaving them gleefully tittering about how naughty they were. Murder by Death might not have been the highest grossing film that year, but thanks to receptive audiences, it did rank within the Top Ten for earnings. Murder by Death might never make it into “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die,” but you might want to consider it for an evening of frivolity. It also passes the Bechdel Test.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "THX-1138"

George Lucas made a student film that caught the eye of Frances Ford Coppola. The two of them founded the studio American Zoetrope where they took the idea of that student film and expanded it into the full length movie feature THX-1138. It did not do well at the theater and critics of the day had differing opinions. But over the years, THX-1138 developed a cult following with both audiences and other film makers. You can find Easter eggs referring to THX-1138 in films by Lucas and other filmmakers. In fact you can find hidden references to the film in countless television shows, books and software. The setting of THX-1138 is a future in which mankind has been hollowed out into working drones whose purpose is to support the automated society governing it. The population is medicated and brainwashed. History is absent. The populaces are blank people living on a blank slate. Even the android policemen have blank chrome faces that show only a reflection. Consumption has no meaning as the content of the consumption has no meaning. THX-1138 shows what happens when the irregularities of the human condition rise from this imposed stupor. THX-1138 is an elegant science fiction movie that relies less on special effects and more of the underlying message of the conditions in which its characters are placed. If youre wondering why the title of the film sounds so familiar, you might have seen the letters more than once when the sound system THX is being introduced at the start of a film.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "Destry Rides Again"

Destry Rides Again is a well-constructed movie. It provides just the right amount of lush details so your suspension of disbelief is firmly established. A few shots of horses barreling down 
dangerous mountain roads and a few head of cattle going past a fence and you completely discount the fact that nearly every scene is either inside a studio set or a backlot façade of a boomtown. A string of comedic elements and dialog entertains us so well that its somewhat thin storyline is overlooked. We are all wrapped up in the characters—the town drunk who gets appointed sheriff, the Iron Matron of the dance hall with a secret heart of gold, the easy mannered deputy with a sly mind, and the silent but crafty mayor. All of these roles are filled with well-accomplished actors and character actors. The true charm of Destry Rides Again is that there is nothing wanting. You get song, humor, action, suspense, and a tug on the heartstrings. While Destry Rides Again performed well at the box office, it was not an extravagant success at the time. However, and I think this is because of how well the movie was constructed, Destry Rides Again remains high on the list of memorable westerns. A couple of quick side notes: Destry Rides Again was James Stewart’s first Western. It was also credited with revitalizing Marlene Dietrich’s career. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "Crimson Peak"

Guillermo del Toro said that he wanted to do a Gothic-Romance with a big dash of horror to pay homage to, and to break a few rules of the genre. Crimson Peak starts off right away setting the tone by showing you a ghost within the first five minutes. We get a long creepy look as it utters a cryptic warning. We are then left wondering if perhaps showing a ghost so early in the production was too much of a reveal. But, hey, Hamlet started with a ghost as well and things got very dicey afterwards in that story. The audience is pulled into a Victorian setting with social parties and customs of the time. We wonder if the love our heroine feels is doomed from the start. And how can it possibly thrive when it’s nested in a grand house whose better days are well behind it? The house is like a gigantic decaying body, and we quickly come to feel that the tenants are worms. Crimson Peak is very pretty to look at—in a dusty, antique way. But we’re onto the hidden elements of the story early. The excitement comes from not knowing how the final cards are played. Black, white, gray, sepia, and red, lots of red, fill the color palette of this film. I give this nice homage to the Gothic Movie a solid five points, and then add a point for its having a dog with a name, and another point for easily passing the Bechdel Test.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "Little Dead Rotting Hood"

I’m sure the title of Little Dead Rotting Hood was meant to appeal to the zombie-loving crowd as well as trying to spin the folk tale of Little Red Riding Hood in a new direction. I know that’s what lured this fish to take the hook. The first five minutes of Little Dead Riding Hood told me that I was set for a world of boredom and disappointment. Be warned, you will need to keep yourself alert; otherwise, you will find yourself yawning through the crucial few minutes of exposition that actually explains what is meant to be going on. As is often the case with a gimmick-titled movie, Little Dead Rotting Hood lacks substance. If you want to see a great horror film with a Red Riding Hood spin, I suggest you watch The Company of Wolves (1984). If you want a straight-to-tape zombie movie that at least won’t bore you to tears, I suggest The Video Dead (1986). Which just goes to show that practical special effects from decades ago can still beat the pants off bad editing and CGI.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "The Thin Man"

Originally slated as a B-movie by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, The Thin Man was quickly completed in less than two weeks. The film then surprised the studio by becoming a box-office hit. I’d like to remind my readers that Prohibition was repealed on December 5th, 1933. The Thin Man, which features a tremendous amount of drinking, was released in the spring of 1934. A few audiences complained about the excess, but a thirsty country coming off a dry spell waved them off. Perhaps it was this new tolerance that kept the censors from applying their scissors to the innocent innuendo, often ad-libbed, found in the merry banter of a loving, married couple. The true fun ofThe Thin Man is that the main characters of Nick and Nora have such on-screen chemistry that they come across as intoxicating instead of intoxicated. The dialog provides the humor, not the alcohol. The grace of the performers, William Powell and Myrna Loy, made a statement the audience could rally behind. Smart, happy people could indulge and could still be smart, happy people. Now my theory might seem half-cocked. There’s a mountain of reviews about why The Thin Man was a good movie in 1934. But everyone agrees the movie has legs. You will find it just as clever and entertaining today was when it was released.

You might even be inclined to check out its six sequels:
After the Thin Man (1936) 
Another Thin Man 
Shadow of the Thin Man 
The Thin Man Goes Home
Song of the Thin Man

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "It happened One Night"

It Happened One Night was the first movie to win all five major Academy Awards: Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay. Not bad for a film that initially didnt fare well when it first hit the theaters. It was when it began its round at second-run theaters and small theaters out in the sticks that audiences started attending en mass. Theres a theory that folks who lived in rural areas identified with the settings of bus travel and pop-up roadside cottage inns. Its said that tickets on Greyhound buses had a bump in sales as a result of the film. But what I want to talk about is how It Happened One Night influenced popular culture. Clark Gables character, Peter Warren, talks while filling up his mouth with carrots. Another character who addresses Warren as Docis then asked by Warren if hes heard of Bugs Dooley. Six years later, these various tidbits would flow into a cartoon character called Bugs Bunny. Moments, lines and scenarios from It Happened One Night have been paid homage in a slew of films and cartoons. It Happened One Night is a fun romp that audiences went crazy for back in the 30s, and its well worth your time to watch and see how it became the source of so much material used later in film.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "Clockwork Orange"

Originally, Anthony Burgess released his novel A Clockwork Orange in 1962, well before the Summer of Love. The book was inspired by the published results of a series of scientific experiments exploring social conditioning. Kubrick discovered the book some years later and was both fascinated and inspired by the multiple ideas the novel put forward as how politics would take advantage of social conditioning. When Kubricks film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange was released in 1971, its portrayal of vicious youth, extreme violence, and political manipulation stuck a nerve. People saw a future they didnt like. If you place the iconic imagery and the violence aside, A Clockwork Orange still serves as a portent to how political factions do their best to mold the minds of the public. The only catch now is that their methodologies are subtler and far less obvious than the conditioning chair we see in A Clockwork Orange.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Comic Critic's Review of "Darby O'Gill and the Little People"

 Darby O’Gill and the Little People was featured regularly on the weekly television show The Wonderful World of Disney. I’ve seen it so many times I’ve lost count. It’s a perfect family movie, or at least I thought so when I was a kid. I loved watching Darby and King Brian of the leprechauns engage in their battle of wits—even though I knew how it would always end. Darby O’Gill and the Little People is a wonderful fantasy movie. It captured my imagination and held me enraptured. I think it might have been my first introduction to Irish myth and legends. I never thought it overdid Irish stereotypes. Yes, we knew that Darby preferred spending his time at the pub rather than on the estate. But we always felt it was because that’s where the audience for his leprechaun stories was. Having a bit of a pint was just a lucky happenstance, not a signature of alcoholism. I’ve not seen Darby O’Gill and the Little People in a while. With the slew of newer fantasy films available, I can see how some might have overlooked this now seldom-seen Disney film. Pull it out of the vault and watch it with your family. You will find that it’s much better than a lot of the nanny films sitting on your shelf.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "Zardoz"

Zardoz is a cult classic. Part of its charm is its fearlessness. Like a man with no rhythm or moves hitting the dance floor just because he loves to dance and screw what anybody else thinks, Zardoz goes for broke on the screen. Embarrassment is not an option. So, it’s not an embarrassment that Sean Connery shows off just how hairy a Scotsman can be in a scarlet loincloth with suspenders and thigh-high boots. It’s not an embarrassment that this fairly decent post-Apocalypse melodrama’s script is slightly overshadowed by sets and costumes that look like they came out of a discothèque designer’s wet dream. It’s an Irish-American production with director John Boorman being given pretty much free rein after the highly successful film Deliverance. While Zardoz did not fare well at the box office or with critics, it did find its audience in the video rental market for those looking for truly unusual and bizarre entertainment. Its cult following has grown so strong that love it or hate it, Zardoz has become entrenched in our culture.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "Rashomon"

Rashomon is unique on many levels. This film, set in Japan, tells a Japanese story in a very Japanese manner. As far as Japanese audiences were concerned, there was nothing overly remarkable about how the story was told, so Rashomon received a lukewarm reception there. But Director Arika Kurosawa knew that the Japanese were very modest as a culture and was determined to exhibit this unique Japanese take on storytelling to a worldwide audience. Rashomon served as an ambassador of the Japanese film industry and Kurosawa was quickly acknowledged as a respected director throughout the world. Rashomon’s depiction of various, often conflicting, viewpoints has come to be known as the “Rashomon Effect” and is now used extensively in media. Kurosawa’s bold use of light, nature, actors, and editing is so seamlessly structured that audiences are never aware that the reason for so many outside shots was its very limited budget.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Comic Critic Reviews "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."

I was still in elementary school when my family moved outside our school district while our new house was being built. My parents didn’t want us to change schools, so they didn’t inform the district. Instead, we carpooled with our father as he dropped us off at our different schools. He had a lot of kids, and the schools opened at different times. A few of us would wait with him at the Pinecone Café, a little dive along Highway 99. My dad would give us each a quarter, and we became good at playing the lone pinball machine, Evil Knievel. We had only one quarter and needed to make it last. There was also a jukebox that remained silent because most of the men there were just like my father, just easing into morning with a simple cup of coffee, a bear claw, and a newspaper. But I was curious and had plenty of time, so I read through the music selections. I recognized many of them. One choice made my eyes go wide. I found something my young little mind never conceived would ever be on a jukebox. Not even the magic thrill of Evil Knievel pinball was a match for my desire to listen to this selection. To this day, I still wonder what some of the men in the café thought when the theme for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly greeted them in the morning. In the mornings that followed, I wondered if they placed private little bets with themselves, which it would be, the pinball? Or the theme? I know that for me, it was a dilemma I faced every day.

 Sergio Leone is credited with creating the subgenre of Spaghetti Western. But what he did, other filmmakers have done; that is, you take an existing genre and spin it on its head with out-of-the-box thinking. In this case, by showing that a Western doesn’t have to be filmed in the American West, and that your heroes and bad guys follow the expected tropes established in the genre. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is the third in a series of Sergio Leone films. The previous were A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More. It’s argued that each stands alone, and they are not formal sequels. But many would agree that that The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly has come to represent the ultimate in Spaghetti Westerns. When I saw it the first time as a kid, I didn’t care about all that. I was riveted by these highly interesting characters doing their best to out-best each other through wits and action while seeking a treasure in gold. Alliances shifted, revenges sought, and you couldn’t see what was coming next. It was thrilling to watch. And the music! Ennio Mirricone scored all three of Sergio Leone’s movies and has gone on to score hundreds more. The sound of his work is as familiar to my ears as Mozart or Beethoven. And it took root in my head during The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. When I started to buy music for myself, a CD of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly soundtrack was one of my first purchases.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Return of Stickman - Easter 2016

I came up with this comic last week and I thought it would be perfect to send out on Easter. If you find a related news article, I would be very surprised.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016