The Cultural Gutter

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

“How To Write A Thriller”


Ian Fleming writes about writing: “We are all fed fairy stories and adventure stories and ghost stories for the first 20 years of our lives, and the only difference between me and perhaps you is that my imagination earns me money. But, to revert to my first book, Casino Royale, there are strong incidents in […]

“It’s Okay To Be The Uncool Black Girl”


“I find it amazing how much you appreciate being a nerd once you get older.  Adding two cups of wisdom along with a pint of experience and mix it all together with maturity gives you a bewitching concoction of someone who is secure in who and what they are.  My security and confidence may not […]

“The Big Idea: In Conversation with LULZSEC”


The Royal Court Theatre hosts a conversation among former Anonymous LulzSec members facilitated by anthropologist Gabriella Coleman.

Interview with Alison Bechdel


NPR interviews cartoonist Alison Bechdel on the occasion of her MacArthur Genius Grant. “I guess I’m proudest of just really sticking with this odd thing I loved and was good at — drawing comics about marginal people (lesbians) in a marginal format (comics). I never thought much about whether that was responsible, or respectable, or […]

An Interview with Gordon Parks

In an interview with the National Visionary Leadership Project, the late Gordon Parks talks Life Magazine, photography, racism, his hometown and offers advice to young Black people.

Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s “Black Rainbow”

Ryan Holmberg reads Tatsumi Yoshihiro’s Black Blizzard closely with Tatsumi’s memoir, A Drifting Life, and discovers Black Blizzard is an adaptation of pulp mystery writer Shimada Kazuo’s story, “Black Rainbow,” then puts Tatsumi’s work in the context of other mass entertainment of its time.  The piece itself is worth it for the discussion of Shimada […]

Big Damn Heroes


For all his various meanings, attributes and forms, the hero of a Romance novel is really just the male protagonist.  He can be heroic in nature, of course, and he often is, but it isn’t required. Sometimes the actual heroism, should there be any, falls to the heroine.  And sometimes it falls to the writer.

Afghan Notebook

Ted Rall documents his travels through Afghanistan in Afghan Notebook. (He also gets himself added to the list of artists like Joe Sacco, Guy Delisle and Emmanuel Guibert).

RIP, Harvey Pekar

Famous curmudgeon and writer of the comic, American Splendor, Harvey Pekar has died. The Cleveland Plain Dealer blog has more information.

“Total Nowhere Emotion Expansion”

What is “Total Nowhere Emotion Expansion?” It’s a digital art exhibit on the back of a trailer in Australia. “Eight artists from five countries have mashed together snippets of online culture – chatrooms, Second Life, online dream journals, first person shooters and more – to make some interesting observations about what cyberspace has become.”  See […]

Portrait of the Artist (with the Sound of Cicadas)

drifting 80.jpg

Tatsumi Yoshihiro’s A Drifting Life is all the proof anyone would ever need that comics can be serious art. It will show up at the top of year end lists and on syllabi. The fanciest of blurbs will be written about it. Comic fans will hound the unsuspecting at parties and in their homes to […]



There’s a pair of pants in the bottom drawer of my dresser. They don’t fit me. In fact, they’re kind of ugly. They’re chocolate brown with thick vertical half-hound’s-tooth white stripes, a trio of faux-bone oblong buttons (non-functional) running up the side of each pocket and belt loops wide enough to accommodate a belt half […]

Author abducted by Aliens!

Ah, the anal probe as metaphor.

Aliens rarely abduct the authors of mass-marketed paperbacks. Once in a while, though, a writer drives along an Interstate highway or recklessly vacations in a remote mountain cabin. Whitley Strieber, the author of The Hunger and most-recently co-author of The Day after Tomorrow, was one of the first to capitalize on the alien abduction memoir […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    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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