The Cultural Gutter

taking the dumb out of fandom

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

Fun! Charm! Thrilling Adventure!

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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 […]

10 Comics I Liked In 2013

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It’s an amazing time in comics right now. There are too many good ones for me to even read them all. Comics are like a hydra, but without the decapitation or even really the fighting. (So maybe not all that much like a hydra except I find one comic and then there are 3-6 more […]

Boxers & Saints: Finding People In History

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If, like me, you have watched countless kung fu movies, then you’ll recognize this story: a boy goes with his father and elder brother to a local village festival. An ardent fan of Peking Opera, the boy goes off by himself to watch the festival performances. Hearing some commotion, he investigates and sees his father […]

Mad Science Throwdown: Princess Bubblegum vs Frankenstein

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“No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success. Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and […]

The Shrieking Horror of Castle Lemongrab

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“Sometimes I tried to imitate the pleasant songs of the birds but was unable. Sometimes I wished to express my sensations in my own mode, but the uncouth and inarticulate sounds which broke from me frightened me into silence again” (Frankenstein, 110). “He raised her and smiled with such kindness and affection that I felt […]

The March: On Chickens, Humanity and Moral Authority

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Other more serious writers have written about Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell‘s The March, Vol 1. (Top Shelf, 2013) . They’ve written about the audacious presentation of solemn historical material in a graphic novel; John Lewis’ contribution to perfecting the Union;  The March‘s importance in relation to American History and the fiftieth […]

A Monster Saved From Monster’s Ways

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As Romance Editor Chris Szego has often noted here at The Gutter, the theme of modern romance is that the hero can change. But what about sea mutants—can they change? In Jonathan Cases’s Dear Creature (Tor, 2011) a sea mutant falls in love with a human woman. It’s a beautifully-drawn and beautifully-written Shakespearean comedy with […]

Strong Female Character

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A little while ago, a friend told me that I was a “strong woman.” It was a compliment and I took it as one. Part of me knows what he means, that I keep trying, that I pick myself up as best I can after things go to hell, that I try to keep moving. […]

A Man’s Life

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“The type of thing I came up with was what sold at the time: Guys with guns and gals with no pants on.”–Norm Saunders (1983) A man presses himself against the wall of a collapsed mine as a grizzly, reared on its hind legs, swipes at him through a gap in the rocks. A man, […]

Summer Fun Time Reading ’13

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It’s hot and the air already feels like unset Jell-O, but you still have some time to prepare for summer, because all the list-happy magazines and websites tell me, summer must be prepared for. Dig out your seersucker suit! Bob your hair! Find that most fashionable bathing suit–might I suggest a kicky Twenties number? You’ll […]

My New Weapon of Choice

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In April, the Guttersnipes like to mix it up a little.  This month, Comics Editor Carol Borden writes about romance. “You hit him with a frying pan,” he said to her.  “How come you didn’t grab a knife?” “The frying pan was closer.” Her eyes slid away.  “It’s not like I had time to pick […]

Following How Your Dreams Make You Want To Be

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I’m going to talk a bit about Adventure Time, but I want to tell a story first. When my nephew was a toddler, he liked to play princesses with his mother and me. Usually, we were all beautiful princesses. Once, to show his displeasure, his mother was a “Bad Princess,” which actually was kind of […]

The Empire of Crime: Mabuse vs. Wertham vs. Marston

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When humanity, subjugated by the terror of crime, has been driven insane by fear and horror, and when chaos has become supreme law, then the time will have come for the empire of crime.” –The Testament of Dr. Mabuse “[W]hatever factors come into play in the cases that we have studied, the conclusion is inescapable […]

Loving the Alien: Superman and Masculinity

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Since alex, Chris and I decided to write about masculinity this month, I’ve been thinking about Superman. Actually, I’ve been thinking and rethinking Superman almost as long as I’ve been writing for The Cultural Gutter. I began really thinking about him while watching Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. I’ve spent most of my life—and […]

10 Comics I Liked In 2012

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Tales of derring-do! Girl adventurers! Occult mystery! Infernal foes! Secrets revealed! Pirates! Love, loss & betrayal! Intricate art bound in lovely hardcovers! Indie going mainstream! Original creations! It’s been an incredible year for comics. So many good ones that I can’t even begin to claim to know what would be the best comics of 2012. […]

Crimewave!

It seems like when people think of comics, they think of superheroes, but there was a long time when crime and comics were synonymous. And now it seems like some of the best comics around are crime books. There’s a new golden age, a new crimewave in comics. I’ve been meaning to write about it, […]

The Dark Knight and the Bitter Tears of Alfred Pennyworth: Batman and Realism Part 2

This week Screen Editor alex MacFadyen and Comics Editor Carol Borden continue discussing The Dark Knight Rises. We both like Batman and we’re fascinated by how many different Batmans there are. Even though there are things we like about the film, we want to figure out what is it about The Dark Knight Rises‘ Batman […]

The Specter of Frankenstein

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The specter of Victor Frankenstein’s creature has been haunting me, confronting me with the horror if his creation and inherent in his being. He stalks me, in his way, as surely as he stalked Victor. Perhaps he’s just been curiously peering at me, as the creature watched humans in Mary Shelley’s novel, emulating our virtues […]

Batman vs. The French Revolution

“A hero can be anyone, even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy’s shoulders to let him know the world hasn’t ended.” “The mask is to show that Batman could be anybody.” Is saying anyone can be Batman the same as saying anyone can be a […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Tin House has published an edition of Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness illustrated by Matt Kish, an interesting follow-up to Kish’s project, Moby-Dick In Pictures; One Drawing For Every Page. See more of Kish’s work here.

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    At Salon, Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll write about irony and cynicism, sincerity and honesty in art: “At one time, irony served to challenge the establishment; now it is the establishment. The art of irony has turned into ironic art. Irony for irony’s sake. A smart aleck making bomb noises in front of a city in ruins. But irony without a purpose enables cynicism. It stops at disavowal and destruction, fearing strong conviction is a mark of simplicity and delusion.

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    Eastern Kicks has an interview–and a gallery of photos of–director Park Joon-hung.

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    Get ready for a new season of Mad Men with this collection of Absurdist Mad Men promotions, which the Cultural Gutter participates in and even encourages. Duck Phillips rules an undersea advertizing empire and “Pete feels slighted.”

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    Some interesting thoughts on South Korean cinema with “A Dish Best Served Bloody: Revenge In South Korean Cinema” and this Cannes program piece on Arirang (1926) and the history of Korean film.

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    Al-Jazeera America profiles John Pirozzi’s Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten, a documentary about Cambodian rock’n’roll and musicians who survived the Khmer Rouge. “Until 1975, music thrived in Phnom Penh, with clubs full night after night, crowds gathering in the streets around transistor radios to hear the latest releases, and the biggest stars being feted by the king. Enter the Khmer Rouge, communism and the war on intellectuals. Between 1975 and 1979, about 2 million Cambodians, roughly a third of the population, were rounded up and either were killed or died of starvation. Artists were particularly disliked by the Khmer Rouge, which saw creativity as decadence: Almost all of the biggest names perished during that era.”

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