The Cultural Gutter

dangerous because it has a philosophy

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

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 […]

Nothing Ape Is Strange To Me

I am Ape. Nothing Ape is strange to me.–Publius Terentius Afer (sort of) For what is there beautiful in man,-what, I pray you, worthy of admiration, or comely–unless that which, some poet has maintained, he possesses in common with the ape? –Arnobius I’m surrounded by a stack of comics and one illustrated novel all set […]

Summer Fun Time Reading ’12

Summer’s come early this year, with the hum of air conditioners and fans in the air and the grass peacefully brown beneath my feet, the fireflies rising into the trees and all around the internet, Summer Top Ten lists are in bloom, from the Top Ten YA Summer Reads to the Top Ten Summer Eggplant Recipes […]

Maurice Sendak and the Strange Wild Things of My Childhood

“The magic of childhood is the strangeness of childhood, the uniqueness that makes us see things that other people don’t see.” “I’m just clearing the decks for a simple death. You’re done with your work. You’re done with your life. And your life was your work.” –Maurice Sendak, TateShots: Maurice Sendak and Tell Them Anything […]

Master of Infinite Kung Fu

I always have trouble writing about comics that I think are good, just excellent and existing in their own seamless perfection, which means that here at the Gutter I don’t always write about the comics that I love most. I want to do credit to them and save them till I have more time. Sometimes, […]

The Woman in the Costume

“Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.” –Coco Chanel “The core of the issue for me is the integrity of the superhero and that’s something that I take very seriously and the costume figures prominently in that. It would have to. And that’s why with Star […]

Fire Fang Has Risen From The Grave!

Over the holidays, I participated in the Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit‘s Secret Santa Exchange. I sent Tars Tarkas, Apocalypse IV: Judgment. And Permission To Kill‘s David Foster sent me two comics : Vampire! Featuring Fire Fang and Vampire! #2: The Brothers of Fire Fang (Meteor Comics, 1995). Together they reprint five of Australian […]

10 Comics I Liked in 2011

It’s the beginning of January, cold and dark where I am. The critics are all putting out their best of year lists, and maybe you’re looking for something to read. So here’s my entry into annual lists: 10 comics I liked in 2011 that I haven’t written about. Well 9 comics I haven’t written about […]

Terror of Monkeys vs. Robots

Manipulated by mad scientists, humiliated for humanity’s pleasure, will robots and apes tire of making our cars, vacuuming our floors, fighting our wars, washing our cats and smoking our cigarettes? Who will break first as humankind continually fails to distinguish androids from robots, apes from monkeys? We return again to the question that 2012 inevitably […]

The Secret History of the Skeleton Suit (in Japan)

I appreciate Lord Death Man’s flair, his élan, panache, the way he daringly wears brown leather gloves, belt and boots with his high-contrast black and white skeleton suit—and makes it work. Of the many skeleton suits in the criminal underworld, I would wear Lord Death Man’s. Like this:Like Loading…

Dreadful Thoughts

As an adult, my strongest impressions of horror have come from comics. My childhood ones are almost exclusively from tv—the trailer for Magic and a misguided viewing of the beginning of Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein. But as an adult, I remember picking up the first issue of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (Vertigo) and being so freaked out […]

My Little Pony: About 20% Cooler

I was uncertain about My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.  I don’t fondly remember the toy-hawking cartoons of the 1980s and I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with the girly.  Dying my hair pink in my 20s was my solution to the impossibility of girlhood.  But then I saw Lauren Faust was making it and […]

A Hero To Some

“He was a hero to some, a villain to others, and wherever he rode people spoke his name in whispers. He had no friends, this Jonah Hex, but he did have two companions: One was death itself… The other, the acrid smell of gunsmoke…” I’ve meant to write about Jonah Hex for a long time […]

Summer Fun Time Reading ’11

It’s summer time and instead of beer bottles exploding out of coolers in a shower of refreshing ice, bikini-clad hotties and fireworks as we know it should be, everything is wilting and perhaps even melting. As far as I can tell there are only two possible explanations—Hot Lava Monsters have readjusted the earth’s thermostat to […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims talk abouts the art of lettering in comics. “Comic book lettering is up there with inking and coloring in the holy trinity of underrated comic book skills, but it’s also one of those things that, once you start paying attention to it, you’ll never be able to not notice it again. I’m not exaggerating even a little bit when I say that it’s one of those things that can absolutely ruin a comic if it’s done wrong, even if everything else is perfect. But to be honest, of those three elements, lettering is still probably the most underrated. The thing is, when it’s good, it can be absolutely gorgeous in its own right. And fortunately for us, there are a lot of people who do it very, very well.”

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    Comics Alliance suggests seven Star Wars comics to read before Disney makes them disappear. (Including a comic by one of Comics Editor Carol’s favorite creative teams–Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman). “Starting in 2015, Disney’s handing the publishing of any and all new Star Wars comics over to Marvel Comics, with an all new, optimized-for-corporate-synergy canon that will spread across all their media platforms. Anything that’s not a movie (especially one of the Original Trilogy movies), or a Clone Wars cartoon, will be unceremoniously Order 66-ed out of existence, giving future filmmakers a clean-ish slate to make movies (and money) on. But what about all those Dark Horse comics? That’s where we come in with 7 Dark Horse Star Wars comics you should track down before they disappear.”

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    At the New York Observer, Ashley Steves writes about Craig Ferguson’s The Late, Late Show. “No one could ever prepare you for watching an episode of Ferguson’s Late Late Show. A friend could not sit you down and explain it (“Well, it’s really meta and deconstructive and there’s a horse”). There was really no good way to recommend it. It was something you discovered and became a part of. You had to stumble upon it on your own, perhaps restless or bored or simply curious while flipping through channels when your eye quickly caught some of the madness. And that’s the best part. It was an unexpected gift. At its worst, it could still send you to bed grinning and comforted. At its best, it was art. It was silly and fun and truly not like any other late night show.”

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    At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims interviews Ed Brubaker about his work on Batman, Gotham Central and Catwoman. “When I look back at [Catwoman], I’m so proud of the first 25 issues of that book, when I felt like everything was firing on all cylinders. I probably should’ve left when Cameron Stewart left instead of sticking around. That’s one of those things I look back at and think “Ah, I had a perfect run up until then!” (Incidentally, Comics Editor Carol’s first piece for the Gutter was about Brubaker’s first 25 issues of Catwoman).

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    At Sequential Art, Greg Carpenter writes a lovely piece about Charles Schulz’ Peanuts. “After only two installments, Schulz had solidified the rules for his comic strip.  Random acts of cruelty would punctuate this irrational world, and Schulz’s trapped little adults would be forced to act out simulations of human behavior, using hollow gestures to try to create meaning in a universe where no other meaning was evident.  If Shakespeare’s Macbeth had been a cartoonist, the results of his daily grind, “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” might have looked somewhat similar—each character a “poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage” until he or she was heard from no more.”

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    The Smithsonian Magazine has a gallery of US spy satellite launches. “Just as NASA creates specially designed patches for each mission into space, [National Reconnaissance Office] follows that tradition for its spy satellite launches. But while NASA patches tend to feature space ships and American flags, NRO prefers wizards, Vikings, teddy bears and the all-seeing eye. With these outlandish designs, a civilian would be justified in wondering if NRO is trolling.”

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