The Cultural Gutter

dumpster diving of the brain

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

A Collection of Calaveras

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The Library of Congress has scans of José Guadalupe Posada broadsheet illustrations, including many calaveras for your enjoyment! Like this:Like Loading…

“Stuff You Missed In History Class: Bela Lugosi”

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The “Stuff You Missed In History Class” podcast discusses the life of Bela Lugosi in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2. Like this:Like Loading…

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 […]

Suffragettes, Amazons and Wonder Woman

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At the New Yorker, Jill Lepore considers the intertwining histories of women’s suffrage, feminism, Amazons and Wonder Woman. “It isn’t only that Wonder Woman’s backstory is taken from feminist utopian fiction. It’s that, in creating Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston was profoundly influenced by early-twentieth-century suffragists, feminists, and birth-control advocates and that, shockingly, Wonder Woman […]

Heart of Darkness, A Drawing For Every Page

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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. Like this:Like Loading…

Black Victoriana

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A gallery of photographs of people of African descent from the Victorian era. (Via Kit Marlowe) Like this:Like Loading…

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 […]

“It’s A Graveyard Threat: Classic Monster Graves”

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Odd Things I’ve Seen has a list of the final resting places of actors and actresses who have played classic horror characters. “This isn’t comprehensive, of course, and were I to try to make it so, I’d disappear into a hole in the Internet and not come up until this post was a 10-part mini-series […]

Secret Agent, Detective, Genius, Jerk: Modernizing Sherlock Holmes

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A man with dark wavy hair wakes up in an iron-framed bed in the middle of a windowless room. He leaps out from under the white sheets and stares intently at a corner of the white ceiling. Suddenly, gracefully, he spins to defeat an invisible opponent in four swift motions, finally falling to his knees […]

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 […]

The Gothic Imagination

BBC Radio 4 presents dramatizations of Frankenstein and Dracula, as well as extras including discussions of the difficulty of performing Frankenstein’s Creature, Vitalism, and who Stoker might’ve based his Count on. Click through to The Gothic Imagination. (via @booksadventures) Like this:Like Loading…

Vampires of New England

The Smithsonian Magazine investigates the vampires and vampire panics of 18th and 19th Century New England.  “In Manchester, hundreds of people flocked to a 1793 heart-burning ceremony at a blacksmith’s forge: ‘Timothy Mead officiated at the altar in the sacrifice to the Demon Vampire who it was believed was still sucking the blood of the […]

Cartoon America

The Library of Congress has an online exhibit on the history of illustration, cartoons, animation, single panel gag cartoons and comic strips in the United States. (via @fantagraphics) Like this:Like Loading…

A Haunted House and a Diabolical Manor

Possibly the world’s first old dark house movie, The Haunted House (1908) by Segundo de Chomón and the first vampire/Satanic castle movie, Le Manoir du Diable (1896) by Georges Méliès. (Thanks, Keith and Teleport City!) Like this:Like Loading…

“Joseph Merrick and the History of the Human Sideshow”

In anticipation of The Elephant Man Joseph Merrick’s birthday next month, Abebooks’ Avid Reader has compiled a short history of John Merrick’s life and a gallery of books about Merrick, sideshow histories and biographies as well as a few promotional cards from the late 19th century. Like this:Like Loading…

“Too Archetypal for their own Good?”

Peter Gutierrez writes about Sherlock Holmes and John Watson and asks, “[S]hould a fan allow for the fact that the archetypal nature of a beloved character naturally, even inevitably, leads to updates that a purist might object to?” Like this:Like Loading…

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 […]

“Jersey Shore Gone Wilde”

Characters from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest perform transcripts from The Jersey Shore,  showing an amazing continuity in dandyism society life in-fighting and the importance of trivial comedy for serious people from Wilde’s time to today. (Thanks, Mark!) Like this:Like Loading…

A Magical Tour of Scary Chinese People

As a follow up to “The Yellow Curse,” Grady Hendrix has posted a gallery of images offering a tour of racist stereotypes of Chinese people from 1881 to the present.   Like this:Like Loading…

The Yellow Curse

Grady Hendrix has written a fascinating piece about Chinese-American life and Chinatowns in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries and a story he’s written about it. “If you were an average Chinese living in New York’s Chinatown at the turn of the century, your life sucked. You had a thriving, albeit mostly male, community […]

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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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