The Cultural Gutter

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

My Year With The Fantastic Four

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Days after we rang in the New Year, I finished a year spent reading all of the Fantastic Four comics, from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s earth-shattering first issue in 1961, which explained how four family members and friends were transformed by cosmic rays into super-powered adventurers, through the latest issues in 2015 by James […]

Transformers: The Romance of the Machine

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Hasbro’s toy brand Transformers turned thirty last year. Children around the world have been hearing the Transformers’ story for decades, passed on by cartoons, comics, movies, and toys. It’s always the same, more or less. An alien race of transforming robots is at war, divided into two factions: the villainous Decepticons, led by Megatron, and […]

Little Fat Nothing: Herbie Popnecker and Early Meta-Comics Narratives

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Publicly admitting you read comics means you’re willing to put up with a perplexingly persistent notion of the medium as the exclusive domain of the super heroes. Even in the current realm of savvy pop art dabblers as likely to pray at the altar of independents like Image Comics as they are the Big Two […]

Stories Are Important

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This week SF/F Editor Emeritus James Schellenberg returns as a Guest Star! Stories are important, we all know this. I hasten to add: and they should be fun too, otherwise why bother reading them? Every once in a while, I run across a new author that balances “something to say” and “have fun saying it” […]

Black Napoleon’s Throne Of Satan

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This week, Guest Star David Foster writes about how an Australian pulp thriller is altered when it was published in the United States as part of the Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit‘s Swapathon. Comics Editor Carol will be back in April. There are many elements that made up the counter culture movement of the […]

The Stephen King Universe

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This week, Science Fiction Editor Emeritus James Schellenberg returns as a Guest Star. Screen Editor alex MacFadyen will return next month. You can easily glance off the top of any book by Stephen King–get a few frights and move on. But there’s a hidden world beneath almost all of his books, and not only is […]

It Started Out Being A Book That Obeyed The Laws of Physics: An Interview with Samit Basu

via Times of India

Author Samit Basu’s first American release, Turbulence, is the story of a few regular people who arrive in Delhi on a flight from London…with superpowers. Talk about baggage. Not just the standard flying, invisible, very very fast kinds of superpowers, either: each one of them gets what they most want in life. Basu doesn’t bother […]

Xanadu‘s Persistence of Memory

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I watched Xanadu on HBO dozens of times in the early 1980s. My obsession also included the soundtrack, which I listened to on a Walkman while attired in scarves, leotards, ruffled skirts, and legwarmers. Sadly, my skills at ballet, tap, and jazz did not translate into roller skating, so I pretended I was Olivia Newton-John […]

Ray Harryhausen and Me: A Life of High Adventure and Escapism

Mr. Harryhausen with his creations brought down to size.

Ray Harryhausen passed away last week. This has been noted by people more qualified than I to discuss the master of stop-motion magic—Rick Baker, Adam Savage, Todd Masters, George Lucas, Peter Jackson, and more. The superhuman talent and perseverance evident in a Harryhausen effects sequence can easily be seen in countless visual effects artists since […]

The Good Outnumber You: A Look at Heroism in Storytelling

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When I was a mere lad, I picked up a battered newsstand copy of Power Man and Iron Fist. I had grown up with superheroes in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, The Incredible Hulk, and The Herculoids on the television, but my comics reading prior to that issue of Power Man and Iron Fist was […]

The Words Got Stuck In My Throat

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“If I had a hidden microphone inside of my heart/I would turn the power on/It would amplify my love for you and swear to always love you/and you’d never be gone.” I love when old movies–that are not musicals per se–spotlight the performance of a song, because it’s symptomatic of a sincere desire to entertain […]

The Monster in Me

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I’ve been spending a portion of my wee small hours (normally spent standing under a solitary street lamp on a lonely street, staring in melancholy reverie at my cigarette) revisiting old horror films. As a budding cult film obsessive, I cut my teeth on the horror films of cinema’s early decades. In the days before […]

Using Fantasy To Be Better Than We Are In Real Life

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Instead of raving about Satyajit Ray’s well-known-outside-of-India projects like the Apu Trilogy (Pather Pancahli/Song of the Little Road, Aprajito/The Unvanquished, and Apur Sansar/The World of Apu) or Jalsaghar/The Music Room (available through Criterion), I want to rave about his fantastic fantastical 1968 children’s film Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne/The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha. Like this:Like […]

The Plague of the White Knight

Carol is editing the Midnight Madness and Vanguard Programme Blogs for the Toronto International Film Festival. She will be back next month. This week, Guest Star Clarice Meadows writes about games. (Note: There are mild spoilers for the mid-point of the game Max Payne 3 and the end of Bioshock 2 and Halo 3.) I […]

A Martini for Santini: Commemorating Ernest Borgnine

Part of me dies under my overalls I close my eyes and a woman calls From a nightmare… Shave…shit…a shower and a shoeshine That’s it…sack time Everybody looks like Ernest Borgnine. He’s there, unexpectedly, in John Cooper Clarke’s punk poem ‘Thirty Six Hours“, blaring through the speakers as I write in the middle of the […]

Human Centipede 2: Say Goodnight to the Bad Guy!

This week Gutter Guest Darryl Shaw fills in for Screen Editor alex MacFadyen. “I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. […]

Fandom is Magic

In the year 2001 I discovered a magical world. Not Harry Potter (that was a few years later) and not the Internet (although it was responsible), but a world that captured my attention and hasn’t let go ten years later. It has to do with fanfiction; unpaid fiction that is written by fans of a […]

Chasing the High Score Dragon

I’m not hardcore. Admitting that, opens up a world of possibilities, and closes no doors. Labeling yourself as such opens a Pandora’s box of criticism from people who live and bleed what you think you do. So I’m not going to make any outlandish statements, and start to think that I’m hardcore because I’m ranked […]

The Unnameable Future, Part II

This month, Gutter Guest Stars John Crye and Todd Sharp continue their discussion of transmedia entertainment and The Unnameable Future.  Part I is here. Brooke Thompson, “experience designer” and blogger at GiantMice.com, recently posted a follow-up to her article, “Transmedia Will Kill Hollywood Is Killing Transmedia,” which we referenced in last month’s guest spot here […]

The Unnameable Future

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…or, Why We Are Confused About The Defining Terms Angrily Dismissed By Those Trying to Trademark Them Recently on her site GiantMice.com, “experience designer” Brooke Thompson posted an article entitled, “Transmedia Is Killing Hollywood Will Kill Transmedia.” In it, Thompson decries the fact that the new storytelling form known as “transmedia” (previously called “cross-platform storytelling,” […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Actor, director, writer and artist Leonard Nimoy has died. Nimoy was most famous for playing Spock in Star Trek, but he also appeared in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), In Search Of…, Ancient Mysteries, Columbo, Fringe, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Faerie Tale Theatre, Mission: Impossible, Dragnet and Bonanza.  Nimoy directed Three Men And A Baby (1987), two Star Trek films and an episode of Night Gallery (“Death on a Barge”) among others. The New York Times and The Guardian have obituaries. Here are some tweets from William Shatner’s online memorial for Nimoy. George Takei remembers Nimoy. Zachary Quinto remembers Nimoy. EW also has other remembrances, including one from President Obama. Code Switch’s Steve Haruch discusses Spock’s importance as a biracial character. Nimoy talks about his work at the Archive of American Television. You can see some of Nimoy’s photography here. And a reminder that Nimoy had an Etsy shop.

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    At Graveyard Shift Sisters, Ashlee Blackwell considers Jonathan Demme’s Beloved as a horror film as part of their Black History & Women In Horror Month series. “Beloved takes us on one journey of the Black American experience of slavery through the body of a Black female protagonist.”

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    Watch Nigerian writer and director Nosa Igbinedion’s Oya: The Coming Of The Orishas here.

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    At Bitch Media, Sara Century wonders why Michonne isn’t in charge and considers which medium is better for the ladies of The Walking Dead: comics or tv. “As I was thinking about the numerous questionable writing choices made with these could-be-so-great female characters, I got to wondering, which medium is better for the ladies of The Walking Dead: the TV show or the comic? In other words, which one is less sexist?

    I wrote up a short list of the main female characters that appear both on the show and in the comic to decipher the differences in how these women are written. These descriptions contain spoilers through season five of the TV show, because it’s impossible to write about The Walking Dead without talking about how people die all the time.”

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    Vixen Varsity shares Olufemi Lee-Johnson’s tribute to Milestone Media and Dwayne McDuffie. “For the first time in my life, I was around comic writers of color telling stories that mirror or surpassed the storylines of America’s favorite heroes. Icon dealt with being the ultimate immigrant and not understanding current black culture. Rocket (Raquel Irvin) was his guide, but also aspired to be more than just a woman in the projects. Static (Virgil Hawkins) was just a normal teenager dealing with fitting into school and then was put into this extraordinary circumstance of being a hero. Hardware (Curtis Metcalf) wanted respect from his mentor, but later learned about the bigger picture when it came to being a hero and the characters from Blood Syndicate…they were just trying to make it day by day and maintain their respect as a gang.”

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    At Soundcheck, John Schaefer talks with Jim Jarmusch about “making music for someone else’s films, and a penchant for walking the tightrope between narrative and abstract art in his own movies. And if you thought his C.V. was looking a little thin, Jarmusch is also working on an upcoming opera about the Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla, with Robert Wilson and composer Phil Kline.” (Thanks, Kate!)

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