The Cultural Gutter

the cult in your pop culture

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

The Gaping, Wooden Maw of Horror Wants To Kiss You

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Every October I like to write about something spooky. I’ve written about  Frankenstein and Dracula,  dead girls and dread, mummies and mutant sea creatures. This year, I thought I’d write about werewolves, but it didn’t work out. I considered Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andreyko’s Torso, but Eliot Ness pursuing a Cleveland serial killer in […]

The Best Adaption of the Fantastic Four Happened Nearly 50 Years Ago

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After the already-dreaded Fantastic Four came out and landed in theatres with a thud so hard in August that its own director disowned it, a school of thought emerged: maybe it’s just impossible to bring the Fantastic Four to life onscreen. The body of evidence they pointed to—which includes two other majorly-derided big-budget films, a […]

Return To The Planet Of Monkeys vs. Robots

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It’s time to return to a question I first confronted five years ago in  “A Matter of Evolution: Monkeys vs. Robots” and faced again in“Terror of Monkeys vs. Robots.”  The eternal question of Monkeys vs. Robots. Not just who would win in a fight. That question has been ably considered by James Kolchaka in Monkey […]

All Apocalypses Are Personal

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I’ve been watching the CW television series iZombie and thinking of few things. Like, how glad I am that it’s not a faithful adaptation of the comic iZombie. And whether all apocalypses, even zombie ones, are personal. And I can’t help wondering if my zombie fatigue has gone into remission. Have I been cured?

Summer Fun Time Reading ’15

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The Summer Solstice is nearly upon us, and I’m sure you all have your wicker men (or factionalist bee helmets) nearly done and your bonfire safely planned. (Remember, Lord Summerisle recommends nude leaping as the crucial component in bonfire safety). And just in time for the arrival of summer, I have a short selection of […]

Danger: Diabolik: Deep, Deep Down

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This month’s Guest Star is the Gutter’s own Carol writing about the Mario Bava film, Danger: Diabolik. Holy cats, how’d that happen? My town has basically one landmark, you know the kind of thing people passing through take pictures of. It’s a water tower. An incredibly phallic water tower. It’s like a classical Hindu lingam. […]

Neko Ramen Taisho: Finding Your Own Way

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Minoru Kawasaki’s Neko Ramen Taisho (2008) is the classic story of a son trying to prove himself to his father and his father’s desire to recreate his son in his own image. Except Taisho, aka William Thomas Jefferson III, is a cat who makes ramen, and his father, William Thomas Jefferson II, is a “cat […]

I Remember You

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When Screen Editor alex was recovering from surgery last year, we watched a bunch of episodes of Adventure Time together. We skipped the episode “I Remember You” because I just couldn’t watch it again without crying. It is one of the best episodes of the show. It is also one of the best depictions of […]

Mucking Up The Respectable Comics Business


I’ve been thinking about disreputable art more than usual lately, between the film adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey coming out and Jonathan Franzen franzenating about women mucking up the whole respectable novel business. I can’t help but think of the history of the novel in Europe and North America. A tawdry form that was […]

Anything Can Happen In Riverdale

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I never expected to be reading Archie comics. Archie Andrews’ irresistible appeal to ladies mystified me and I came late to an appreciation for soap operas and straight melodrama. Then there was residual stuff around romance, a punk rock hostility towards the wholesome squares, a dash of internalized sexism mixed with gender dysphoria and a […]

10 Comics I Liked In 2014

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I’m sure we’re all glad to see 2014 go. I know I am. But you know, comics are always here for you, and so is the Gutter. I thought I’d do something a little different with the list this year. Last year, I was invited to do a “Best Comics of 2013” list at Popshifter […]

My Secret List Of Comics I Want To Read

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Since DC’s reboot, I have hinted publicly about the comics I want other people to make so that I can read them. And by hinting, I mean, “talking about them endlessly until I inevitably lose friends.” However, hinting doesn’t seem to be getting me anywhere. So I’m harnessing the inconceivable power of The Cultural Gutter […]

Fatality: Femmes Fatale, Disappointment, Expectations and Fatale

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Expectations can be a killer, at least for me. I really expected to love Fatale (Image, 2012-4). I had every reason to. Writer Ed Brubaker, artist Sean Phillips and colorist Dave Stewart have made some of my favorite comics together: Sleeper; Criminal; Incognito; and Velvet. Brubaker’s Catwoman brought me back to mainstream comics. And Fatale […]

Engulfed by the Shadow of Dracula

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“Beware that his shadow does not engulf you like a daemonic nightmare.” Of Vampyres, Terrible Phantoms and the Seven Deadly Sins (Nosferatu, 1922) “All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same […]

“A Blend of Fact and Interpretation of Fact”: An Interview with Dave McKean

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Every fall I write for the official Midnight Madness and Vanguard program blogs of the Toronto International Film Festival. And I usually try to find a guest writer to cover me here at the Gutter, write a piece ahead of time or even, sometimes, just totally wander out of  my assigned comics domain to write […]

Fly, Darna, Fly!

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Last February, Todd Stadtman and Tars Tarkas invited me on the Infernal Brains podcast to discuss space ladies with them. We covered a lot of films, but I didn’t get to one film Todd suggested we watch, Darna Vs. The Planet Women (1975). I finally did recently and he was so right—Darna Vs. The Planet […]

Stale Candy, Punk Rock, Failure, Assimilation and Punisher: War Zone

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Last summer, the repairman who came to patch my kitchen ceiling, discovered I read comics and then kept asking me about different blockbuster superhero movies and shows. And I’d keep saying I wasn’t very interested. He stood on the ladder, shaking his head in a reverie, saying the superhero movies were like candy to him […]

Summer Fun Time Reading ’14

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Summer is almost here, and I can’t tell you how glad I am. So smear yourself up with sunscreen and bug repellent, find your kickiest sandals, put the finishing touches on your Wicker Man and don’t forget to wear a hat because I have some comics to make your summer just a little more fun […]

Fun! Charm! Thrilling Adventure!


The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a beacon in a grittily realistic, grimdark pop culture landscape, one guiding lost souls to fun, charm and adventure. And I’m glad to see The Thrilling Adventure Hour adapted from podcast radio play into graphic novel because I like what it portends for fun stories in the future and because […]

Frozen: Jane Austen Meets The Snow Queen

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My mom raised me with three things: Feminism; “You don’t have to like your sister, but you can’t hit her”; and a dislike of Disney. Writing them down now, I realize that all three are more applicable to Frozen, than I thought when I decided I should state my bias. I respect Disney’s progress in […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    There’s a free audio book adaptation of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’ Locke & Key at


    At Actionland, Heroic Sister Achillesgirl writes about subtitling the 1964 wuxia film, Buddha Palm. And she provides you with the subtitles and a link to the film!


    At Bleeding Cool, Cap Blackard writes about the contested homeworld of Howard the Duck. “If you’ve seen the much maligned Howard the Duck film or read any Howard the Duck stories published since 1979, you’re probably familiar with the concept of Duckworld. You know, an alternate Earth where everyone is ducks and everything is duck-themed: Ducktor Strange, Bloomingducks, etc, etc. Sounds like a recipe for a finite barrel of bad jokes, right? It is, and it’s also not Howard’s real point of origin. During his landmark initial run, Howard’s creator Steve Gerber had the down-and-out duck hailing from a world of talking animals, but all that changed when Gerber was kicked off the book and Disney flashed a lawsuit. Now, after decades of backstory fumbling, Mark Waid has reinstated Howard’s point of origin in a one-shot issue of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (Thanks, Mark!)


    At The Village Voice, Jackson Connor writes about the making of The Warriors. Amid the refurbished boardwalk and laughter of children, it’s easy to forget that Coney Island was once a place where tourists did not venture. For much of the latter half of the twentieth century, street gangs dominated this neighborhood. They ran rampant through the area’s neglected housing projects, tearing along Surf and Neptune avenues toward West 8th Street. Those gangs, or gangs like them, and that incarnation of Coney Island would form the backbone of author Sol Yurick’s 1965 debut novel, The Warriors, about the young members of a street gang. More than a decade after the novel’s publication it would be optioned and, eventually, turned into a major motion picture of the same name.” (via @pulpcurry)


    Edith Garrud taught Suffragettes jiu-jitsu and formed Emmeline Pankhurst’s Bodyguard. “The first connection between the suffragettes and jiu-jitsu was made at a WSPU meeting. Garrud and her husband William, who ran a martial arts school in London’s Golden Square together, had been booked to attend. But William was ill, so she went alone. ‘Edith normally did the demonstrating, while William did the speaking,’ says Tony Wolf, writer of Suffrajitsu, a trilogy of graphic novels about this aspect of the suffragette movement. ‘But the story goes that the WSPU’s leader, Emmeline Pankhurst, encouraged Edith to do the talking for once, which she did.'”


    At Playboy, Jake Rossen writes about the story behind the filming and the restoration of Manos: The Hands of Fate. “For a long time no one wanted to see it unless it was accompanied by MST3K’s taunts. Then, in 2011, a collector of film prints uncovered the original negative of Manos and embarked on an inexplicable project to restore the film with all the white-glove attention archivists give to Hollywood classics. His efforts would incur the wrath of a mysterious man with a fake New Zealand accent named Rupert, as well as Joe Warren, Hal Warren’s embittered son, who intends to preserve the Manos legacy at all costs.” (Thanks, Ed!)


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