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Mel Birnkrant Presents:
All of the Art on this site is one of a kind, created by CHARLES PONSTINGL, for the sheer joy of it.
He intended it as loving homage to the Great Comic Artists of former days. 
The images are based upon the work of many, including some that were created by, and are
“Copyright The Walt Disney Company”. The writing and photography is “Copyright Mel Birnkrant”.

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          Some of the best aspects of Charles’ carving are often difficult, if not impossible, to see.  This can be both delightful and frustrating.  In some respects, I believe Charles loves to tease.  His figures live in their own Universe, unaware that we are out there, and none conveniently pose for the camera.  At times, this situation is extreme, and Charles will even position lead characters, looking in the wrong direction.

          “
Alley Oop”, is a prime example of this idiosyncrasy.  The Carving, itself, is fabulous.  “Dinny”, Alley’s dinosaur, is the only instance I have seen, in which Charles carved a figure that was not complete.  It is implied that his massive body, continues behind the trees.  Apart from him, with the sole exception of “Queen Umpateedle”, you can’t see anybody’s face!                        
          “King Guzzle”, who, on close examination, proves to be beautifully done, is looking to one side.  And Alley Oop, himself, is hidden by his upraised hand.  But “Ooola” is the most difficult to understand; her face is completely hidden, buried in the wrong direction, and it is a very pretty face, indeed, as I discovered by means of a handheld dentist's mirror.
 
          So, I have gone to great trouble here to enable Ooola to be seen.  A tiny portion of her face is visible from an angle that is ridiculously extreme.
          “And Her Name Was Maud” was one of the earliest comic strips.  It was created by Fred Opper in 1904.  Opper also authored "Happy Hooligan".  The strip featured “Si Slocum” and “Maud”, who was a mule, Hell bent on revenge.  Someone, usually Si, always ended up getting kicked, literally and figuratively, “in the end”.  This carving replicates Maud’s textured hide to great effect.  Maud sits there defiantly, stubborn as a mule, while Si tries to pull her out of the shed.  I love the dimensionality of this carving.  Si stands out, in a way that is outstanding.
          Mickey and Minnie head West on a covered wagon train, in “Pioneer Days”.  They are attacked by hostile Native Americans on the way.  Many an early Mickey Mouse cartoon would be considered politically incorrect today.  They all smoke the peace pipe in the end.  That is allowed these days.  Mickey, thinking outside the box, runs to Minnie’s defense.  The oxen have discovered that the trail West cuts right through the (orange) border and leads out of the frame.
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          Continuing the Western theme, “The Cactus Kid” was one of Mickey’s early movies. “Horace Horsecollar” as Mickey’s trusted steed ran on four legs in those days.  “Peg-Leg Pete” has abducted Minnie!  And, Mickey rushes to her aid.  Careful Mickey, those cacti are prickly and each tiny spine is made of pine.  The background sky is very painterly.  The stars on the blue frame shine bright, deep in Texas's heart, and mine.
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          “The Klondike Kid” was inspired by Chaplin’s film, “The Gold Rush”. Here, Mickey defrosts poor frostbitten little Minnie with a spoonful of hot soup as “Terrible Pierre”, alias Peg Leg Pete, bursts through the barroom door.  Once more,Charles constructs a scene from scraps, then, although the film was in black and white, colors it, in shades that seem just right.  The details are delightful here, the foaming mug of beer, the glowing lights, the red hot stove, the newly thrown knife, protruding from the door, and a spittoon on the barroom floor.
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          Right from the beginning, I could detect certain characteristics and tendencies in Charles’ work that are not only charming, but, in spite his growing virtuosity and sophistication, happily, have never changed.  I think my favorite is his sense of innocent naivety, his willingness to try anything.  And so, he comes up with solutions to unsolvable problems that defy logic, and makes them work in his own way.

         
How can one best convey the impression that it’s snowing?  How about painting snowflakes all over everything, the sky, the figures, and, especially, the frame?  This is a veritable blizzard of creativity.  No artist schooled in tradition would be so brazen, bold, or brave.  Charles’ honest and straightforward depiction of a snowstorm has a whacky logic to it that transcends the ordinary.  Apart from the wild unexpected flurries, the carving of the carriage and the characters in it is exquisite.  The reindeer who pulls it, with his festive complex harness, jingling bells, antlers made of tree branches, including a few leaves, and puffs of breath, frozen in the frigid air, is both amusing and amazing!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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