The Cultural Gutter

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

DC Variant Covers by Mike Allred

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A gallery of Mike Allred’s covers for twenty of DC’s titles. (via @profmdwhite)

The Dark Knight and the ACME Bomb: Batman and realism part I

The ending to The Dark Knight Rises left my wife doubled over laughing in the parking lot of the theatre. I tried to take a picture for posterity, but it was too dark. Given that no one else in the audience seemed affected in the same way, I expect I’ll need to explain why: simply […]

“Mary Sue, what are you?”

There’s an interesting exploration of the fan fiction term “Mary Sue” and it’s sexist connotations at Adventures of Comic Book Girl:  “So the only time female can be default is when discussing a badly written character, someone who is more powerful or important or liked than they should be allowed to be, someone the plot […]

Comics-Themed Cocktails

Comics Alliance‘s Chris Sims has concocted his own comics-themed cocktails, including a comments section cocktail for comics fans.

The Secret History of the Skeleton Suit (in Japan)

I appreciate Lord Death Man’s flair, his élan, panache, the way he daringly wears brown leather gloves, belt and boots with his high-contrast black and white skeleton suit—and makes it work. Of the many skeleton suits in the criminal underworld, I would wear Lord Death Man’s.

DC’s Sexually-Liberated Superheroines

Laura Hudson writes an excellent essay about “The Big Sexy Problem with Superheroines and the ‘Sexual Liberation.’”

Why Doesn’t Batman Kill?

Dr. Batman, Chris Sims, explains why Batman doesn’t kill–and why someone who seems a lot like he was Batman, has killed in Batman comics. (For the record, the Gutter stands with Chris Sims on this).

Batmobile, Examined

Do you have all the information you require regarding the Batmobile’s physical evolution and its history?  Probably not.  Fortunately, these two sites have made a start. (Thanks, Humash!)

10 Comics I Liked in 2010

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Sometimes it’s easy to forget why I like comics and 2010 was a particularly tough year, in comics and otherwise. But here are 10 that reminded me why I do like them. There’s a lot of crime, anthropomorphic animals, gorgeous art, silly fun, people dealing with things the best they can, and plenty of Greg […]

Batwoman: Elegaic

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In this time of uncertainty and dread, with Batman dying and Dick Grayson taking up the cowl, with dead Robins returning all crazy or replacing Batgirl, with Bruce Wayne taking a global crimefighting initiative Batman Inc. public, there’s one thing I am sure Gotham that has going for it: Batwoman.

The Lonely Man

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Hit play. I used to be so impatient watching The Incredible Hulk. I curled up coloring, waiting for David Banner to transform and roar and smash through brick walls. But watching that show only for the Hulk sets any viewer up for disappointment. Instead, I’ve learned to watch The Incredible Hulk for David Banner. And, […]

HAVING YOUR DUALITY AND EATING IT, TOO

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Spoiler warning. When the question arises of who could be the villain in a third Batman movie, I’m stymied. I can’t picture The Penguin or The Riddler or Catwoman working in the world Christopher Nolan has created. Poison Ivy? I don’t think so. The Mad Hatter? Clayface? Kite Man? Bane? Nope, nope, nope and please […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

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

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    “Japan’s estimated population at the time of their last census was 127 million, and people have been living on this small collection of islands since the Jomon period (~12,000 BCE.) In an increasingly crowded country with a strong traditional belief in ghosts and hauntings, the question of avoiding a marauding ghost becomes impossible to solve, without outside help.”Atlas Obscura has more (with neat illustrations).

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    At Mostly Film, Blake Backlash writes about films “mixing of Hollywood’s Grande Dames with Grand Guignol.”  “Such cinematic mixing of Grande Dames and Grand Guignol had its heyday in the second-half of the sixties, and such films are sometimes (more-or-less) affectionately known as psycho-biddy pictures. They tended to feature an actress over 50 in some sort of peril, a melodramatic plot and a title that ends in a question mark.  But there is another, related tradition that goes back further that I think we could place these films in.” (via Dr. Giallo)

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    “I want to tell you about when violent campaigns against harmless bloggers weren’t any halfway decent troll’s idea of a good time—even the then-malicious would’ve found it too easy to be fun. When the punches went up, not down. Before the best players quit or went criminal or were changed by too long a time being angry. When there was cruelty, yes, and palpable strains of sexism and racism and every kind of phobia, sure, but when these things had the character of adolescents pushing the boundaries of cheap shock, disagreeable like that but not criminal. Not because that time was defensible—it wasn’t, not really—but because it was calmer and the rage wasn’t there yet. Because trolling still meant getting a rise for a laugh, not making helpless people fear for their lives because they’re threatening some Redditor’s self-proclaimed monopoly on reason. I want to tell you about it because I want to make sense of how it is now and why it changed.” Emmett Rensin writes more at Vox.

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    At Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Elyse has some things to say about reading Romance. “In the end, it doesn’t matter what I read. It doesn’t even matter that I do read, quite frankly. What matters is that we live in a world where fiction aimed directly at women is perceived as garbage. That doesn’t say anything at all about me, it says a lot about what needs to change.”

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    Brain Pickings looks at the life and work of Tove Jansson and the wisdom of her character, Too-ticky. “Too-ticky, the sage of Moominvalley who solves even the most existential of problems with equal parts practicality and wisdom, was inspired by the love of Jansson’s life — the great Finnish sculptor and graphic arts pioneer Tuulikki “Tooti” Pietilä, Jansson’s spouse. The two women met in art school during their twenties and remained together until Jansson’s death more than six decades later, collaborating on a lifetime of creative projects — all at a time when queer couples were straddling the impossible line between anguishing invisibility and dangerous visibility.” (via Kate Laity)

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