The Cultural Gutter

we've seen things you people wouldn't believe

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

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.

Black Victoriana

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A gallery of photographs of people of African descent from the Victorian era. (Via Kit Marlowe)

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)

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)

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!)

“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.

“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?”

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!)

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.  

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 […]

“Flip a Switch, a Fairy Dies”

Pornokitsch writer (and Kitschies judge) Jared Shurin writes about fairies as fuel and the vast potential of Steampunk as a resource for discussing industrialization.

Samuel Delany on Racism and Science Fiction

In the 1998 New York Times Review of Science Fiction, Samuel Delany writes about the history of African-American writers of science fiction, race and racism in science fiction and why Octavia Butler might wonder, “Why, when you invite me, do you always invite that guy, Delany?”

Disney Princesses in Period Dress

Illustrator Claire Hummel reinterprets Disney princess costumes to make them more historically accurate. (via The Bookshelves of Lesser Doom)

Bootstrap Theory and Superheroes

‘It seems to me,’ said Booker T.– ‘I don’t agree,’ Said W.E.B. –Dudley Randall In February, I wrote a piece about how much I like Dwayne McDuffie’s writing. Sadly, a few days later, he died. I’m still stunned .  I feel like I’ve just begun exploring his work, so I decided to look for his […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley looks at “The 1979 Rockford Files Episode That Inspired The Sopranos.” “A gang from Newark’s South Side is hiding Vinnie Martine’s body in a restaurant freezer. Tony’s mad because Anthony Jr. got caught pranking another mobster. And a boss who’s trying to reform gets his mansion sprayed with bullets. Remember that episode of The Sopranos? If you do, your memory’s playing tricks on you, because all these things happened on a 1979 episode of The Rockford Files—written by Sopranos creator David Chase.”

    And McKinley defends classic television with, “In Praise of Vintage Television.”

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    Journalist Margot Adler has died. She is best known for her work as a journalist on NPR, but she also created the speculative fiction radio program, “The Hour Of The Wolf” and was the writer of Drawing Down The Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (1979) and Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side (2014). The New York Times, NPR and  Suvudu have obituaries.  Here Adler discusses Vampires Are Us. And here is an excerpt from Adler’s memoir, Heretic’s Heart (1997).

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    The Toronto International Film Festival has announced its Midnight Madness and Vanguard programs for 2014. There’s lots of goodness in there and it’s worth taking a look even if you aren’t going to the festival, so you can you movie watching later this year or next. We’ll be posting the trailers from the films later.

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    Actor James Shigeta has died. Shigeta appeared in Die Hard (1988), The Crimson Kimono (1959) The Flower Drum Song (1961),  Bridge To The Sun (1961), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), The Yakuza (1974) and many, many television shows.  The AV Club, Den Of Geek and Angry Asian Man have obituaries. Bridge to the Sun is discussed by Robert Osborne and Dr. Peter Feng on TCM.  At RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz writes an appreciation of Shigeta’s life and work. “Shigeta, who died yesterday at 81, was a marvelous performer, and his work as Nakatomi Corporation President Joseph Takagi in the original 1988 Die Hard is one of my favorite examples of how an imaginative actor can sketch out a life in just a few scenes and lines.”

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    At RogerEbert.com, Alan Zilberman explores the history of the eye in cinema from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) to Mark Cahill’s I Origins (2014). (via Matt Zoller Seitz)

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    At Never Get Off The Bus, Debbie Moon writes about Captain America: First Avenger. “When adapting existing material, it’s easy to assume that in order to reach point F, you simply have to work through points A – E. To set up Steve Rogers in the modern world, simply romp briskly through everything that happened before he got there. But your character may not be undergoing a single united emotional journey during that period. “

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