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 Pain of the Watermelon Joke”

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Author Jacqueline Woodson writes about her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, growing up in South Carolina and Daniel Handler’s watermelon joke directed at her at the National Book Awards. “I would have written Brown Girl Dreaming if no one had ever wanted to buy it, if it went nowhere but inside a desk drawer that my […]

“We Need Diverse Books”

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The Washington Post has a transcript of American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints creator Gene Luen Yang’s speech at the 2014 National Book Festival Gala.  “We’re afraid of writing characters different from ourselves because we’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of what the Internet might say. This fear can be a good […]

Interview with Alison Bechdel

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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 […]

Critics and Comics

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Alexander Chee writes about difficulty some have in evaluating comics or even in taking them seriously. “As a frequent juror on prizes, colonies and fellowships, I am, it could be said, so tired of this, that in fact, I will fight you for Roz Chast’s right to be on this list. I will fight you […]

RIP, Jesus Franco

Director, writer and actor Jésus “Jess” Franco has died. Franco directed just under two hundred films between 1957 and 2012. Chris Alexander writes a tribute to Franco at Fangoria. Here’s footage of Franco accepting his Goya Award. And here, Franco talks about horror movies and the production of Bloody Moon. Update: The Guardian has an […]

RIP, Bonnie Franklin

Actress Bonnie Franklin has died. Franklin was best known for her role as Ann Romano in the sitcom One Day At A Time, but performed on stage as well as on television. Here she is performing in the Tony Awards in the 1970s. The New York Times has an obituary. Like this:Like Loading…

The 2012 Kitschies Shortlist

Our friends at Pornokitsch have announced the shortlist for the 2012 Kitschies, and The Guardian reports on it! The Kitschies recognize “the year’s most progressive, intelligent and entertaining works that contain elements of the speculative or fantastic.” Like this:Like Loading…

“Visibility is Indivisible from Visibility”

Bound, Matrix and Cloud Atlas co-director, Lana Wachowski talks about growing up trans, suicide, and becoming a role model in her speech accepting the Visibility Award at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual gala dinner. The transcript is here.   Like this:Like Loading…

Pornokitsch Reviews!

Pornokitsch has a new entry in their ongoing reviews of David Gemmell Award finalists with Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns.  Reading the book, Jared wonders “why? Why is it necessary to have a protagonist that’s so aggressively, angrily vile? Bret Easton Ellis did something similar with Patrick Bateman. American Psycho (1991) was the vivisection of the young, […]

“On a Tootsie Roll”

Riffing off Melissa McCarthy’s Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Academy Awards and off the film Tootsie, film critic Bobby Rivers writes: “Hollywood, please give us more witty comedies like Tootsie and make the casts racially diverse.  Give minority actors more opportunities.  Then start giving more love to actors of all colors who do good work […]

Nnedi Okorafor’s Howard

Nnedi Okorafor writes on her World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, more specifically the award’s statuette and the man it depicts, HP Lovecraft:  “This is something people of color, women, minorities must deal with more than most when striving to be the greatest that they can be in the arts: The fact that many of […]

10th Annual Rondo Hatton Awards

The ballot is now up for this year’s Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards. Voting in the many, many categories is open to everyone! Like this:Like Loading…

The 2011 Kitschies

Our good friends at Pornokitsch presented the 2011 Kitsches this weekend, click through for more and congratulations to the winners and to Pornokitsch for an amazing event! Like this:Like Loading…

The Kitschies’ Red Tentacle Finalists

Our good friends at Pornokitsch have released the shortlist of finalists for the Kitschies’ Red Tentacle award and have an in depth look at one of the Finalists, The Enterprise of Death by Jesse Bullington.  “The Red Tentacle is awarded annually to the novel containing speculative or fantastic elements that best fulfills the criteria of […]

The Kitschies!

The 2011 Kitschies are accepting submissions for their tentacular awards celebrating books that “best elevate the tone of genre literature.” Read submission criteria, guidelines and check out past winners of the coveted Red, Gold, Black and Inky Tentacle (for cover art) awards here! Like this:Like Loading…

On Awards

Adam Roberts lays down the law on awards from the Man Booker to the Hugo: “I’m saying that award judges, or voters, need to believe, or at least to suspend their disbelief, that it is meaningful to talk of the best book of the year–to think not that you are making purely subjective and arbitrary […]

Rethinking Brain Eating

If you had to deal with Stalkers, you

If he feels vindicated, he doesn’t show it. As Marc Laidlaw waits for his co-workers to finish a talk, we sit down at a table in San Francisco’s cavernous Moscone Center and talk about Half-Life 2 (Valve, 2004). Its 1998 predecessor is legendary for pushing the form both narratively (bringing atmosphere and intelligence to the […]

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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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