The Cultural Gutter

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

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 […]

Sequential Facts: Big Books Offered An Education in Comic Styles


Comics Editor Carol is off convincing mummies that those ladies who look like their beloved are spunky archaeologists who have their own lives now, thank you very much. She’s also running the official TIFF Midnight Madness and Vanguard program blogs and will be back next month. Now, please enjoy this fantastic piece by Nick Hanover. […]

Strange Men and Magic

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This week’s Guest Star Kate Laity writes about the television adaptation of Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell. Laity is an author, Medieval Studies scholar and History Witch. At Edge-Lit 4, my publisher, Adele Wearing of Fox Spirit Books, was on a panel about Grimdark. What is ‘grim dark?’ Well, that was the first topic. It […]

Number Dumber


This month’s Guest Star is John Crye, a storyteller, filmmaker and producer and a long time friend of the Gutter. For as long as I can remember, I have loved movies. I consumed all things cinema long before I was involved in the business of entertainment, even before my first jobs managing a video store […]

The Core Dynamic; or why I won’t give a show half a series to figure it out

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I want to talk about why I don’t watch Marvel’s Agents of Shield. The reason I gave it four episodes and then walked away from it in spite of everyone telling me ‘it gets much better about halfway through the series’. I want to talk about why ‘halfway through the series’ isn’t good enough and […]

Absolute Beginners ’86


When Julien Temple’s Absolute Beginners was released in 1986 it was met with general indifference and some critical dismissals. While the film may have some problems, today its reputation seems to be clouded by the misconception that it single-handedly ruined the prestigious British film studio Goldcrest and was universally panned. Neither of these assumptions is […]

Essential Crew

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This month’s Guest Star is the excellent Kaitlin Tremblay. Content Warning: self-harm, emotional abuse My roommate and I are obnoxious in the way that only best friends who live together can be. We have more inside jokes than books we’ve read (and as two girls who work in publishing and with five degrees in subjects […]

My Year With The Fantastic Four


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


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


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


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


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


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.

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    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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