The Cultural Gutter

going through pop culture's trash since 2003

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

How To Tell If You Are In High Fantasy or Soft Science Fiction


The Toast helps you determine if you are in a high fantasy novel or a soft science fiction one.

“The Anti-Tolkien”


The New Yorker profiles writer Michael Moorcock. Moorcock’s influence is nothing like Tolkien’s, at least on the surface, but his vision of a speculative-fiction genre that can be psychologically complex is evident in how very sophisticated some of it has become—from True Detective to Jeff VanderMeer, from David Mitchell to Under the Skin. But Moorcock […]

10 Comics I Liked In 2014

red sonja 8 cover

I’m sure we’re all glad to see 2014 go. I know I am. But you know, comics are always here for you, and so is the Gutter. I thought I’d do something a little different with the list this year. Last year, I was invited to do a “Best Comics of 2013” list at Popshifter […]

Watching Aleksander Ptshuko’s Evenings On A Farm Near Dikanka


At Teleport City, the Gutter’s own Keith spends Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka. “The movie opens as all good Christmas movies should: with a scene of a jolly witch tearing across the night sky astride her broomstick, collecting stars for her eldritch brews, while the devil bats the moon around and eventually slips it […]

Katsuya Terada Live-Drawing Demonstration


Video of illustrator and character designer Katsuya Terada drawing and talking about his work. (via @aicnanime)

The Hateful Tomb of Horrors


Zack and Steve go through and review Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Module S-1: The Tomb Of Horrors at WTF, D&D?!…so you don’t have to. “Steve: Most of the opening paragraph is a warning about difficulty. ‘You’ll never find the demi-lich’s secret chamber’ and the tomb is fraught with “terrible traps, poison gases, and magical protections.” […]

“The truth about the dungeon master who disappeared in the steam tunnels”


Jason Louv writes about James Dallas Egbert III, who seemed to have disappeared in Michigan State University’s steam tunnels in 1979 and who became the focus of a panic about Dungeons & Dragons. “When Egbert vanished, his parents hired William Dear, a private detective, to locate him. Dear theorized that it was Egbert’s involvement in […]

Let’s not realize your dreams…

28 days later bad dream

For our anniversary, my wife and I got a really nice message from my family wishing us good things, including that we would “realize our dreams”. When I’d finished responding, I looked over at her and noticed she had a strange expression on her face. You might think that after I woke up to find […]

Writing Comics

Comics writer Si Spurrier shares his process at Forbidden Planet’s blog. “Every writer tackles it differently, of course. There’s no rule book, no Right Way. Still: you’d be amazed at how often the broad strokes match up. Modes of preparation, arbitrary routines, recipes for procrastination…”

Three Readings from the World Fantasy Convention


Videos of writers Alaya Dawn Johnson, Andy Duncan and Kelly Link reading from their work at the World Fantasy Convention.

Writers’ “Lowbrow” Influences


Writers share their “lowbrow” and gutter influences at Electric Lit: “I love Melville but Melville never wrote me a Choose Your Own Adventure book. And I needed that experience first if I was ever going to get to Melville.”

Geeky Bounty at the Internet Archive

The Internet Archive has archived Starlog, Heavy Metal and they have a collection of Warren Publishing magazines like Blazing Combat, Vampirella, Eerie and Teenage Love Stories.

“Not A Manifesto”


At Antipope, Charles Stross shares why he’s moving from writing science fiction to urban fantasy: “Over the past few years I’ve found myself reading less and less far-future SF and more and more urban fantasy. If you view it through the lens of the future we’re living in rather than the future we expected in […]

“Real Human Beings: The Shadow of Mordor, Watch Dogs and the New NPC


At Paste Magazine, Austin Walker writes about non-player characters, failure, autonomy, The Shadow of Morder and Watch Dogs: “And here, then, is the largest problem with these systems as they stand. No matter how many songs the Orcs of Mordor sing, no matter the desperation of [Watch Dogs‘] out-of-work Chicagoan teacher, all I can do […]

Fiction at Pornokitsch


Have you been reading the fiction at Pornokitsch? You should. It’s pretty swell.

Photography’s Antichrist


At The Guardian, Chris Campion writes about American photographer William Mortensen, who specialized in the eerie, the grotesque, the fantastic and the macabre. “In his own writings, Mortensen invoked Hogarth, Beardsley, Daumier and Goya as his forebears. But he also had much in common – in technique, style and approach – with European outlier artists […]

“Rookie Mistakes”

Tim Reis shares ten things he learned from producing his first independent feature The Demon’s Rook. “Making an independent feature film is hard. Making an independent feature film with no money is especially hard. Making an independent feature film with no money, no actors, and a first-time director and crew is almost impossible. It is […]

“Beauty Is The Beast”


At Bookview Cafe, Sherwood Smith reviews Rosmund Hodge’s Cruel Beauty and goes on to discuss the history and the many variations on the story of “The Beauty and the Beast.” “At my age, I find that the more interesting versions of the tale are not just about heroine versus sexy-but-dangerous hero/villain. Though that can be […]

“Leave No Black Plume As A Token: Tracing Poe’s Raven”


At Atlas Obscura, J.W. Ocker writes about Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in monuments, memorials, artifacts and ephemera. “I spent more than a year visiting memorials, mementos, monuments, and more dedicated or connected to Edgar Allan Poe in the places he lived and visited. That meant traveling from Massachusetts all the way down to an […]

“A Crescent Moon Kingdoms Micro Mini-Guide”


Throne of the Crescent Moon author Saladin Ahmed has posted “a micro-mini Crescent Moon Kingdoms world guide that had previously only been available as part of a UK-exclusive ebook” for people to use in their roleplaying games. But even if you aren’t a gamemaster, it’s pretty sweet.

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Open Culture has a re-vamped trailer for a film adaptation of  Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius’ comic The Incal. One that never happened. “[Incal‘s] success made it a logical candidate for film adaptation, and so director Pascal Blais brought together artists from Heavy Metal magazine (in which Mœbius first published some of his best known work) to make it happen. It resulted in nothing more than a trailer, but what a trailer; you can watch a recently revamped edition of the one Blais and his collaborators put together in the 1980s at the top of the post.” (Thanks, Felipe!)


    Hyperallergic has a gallery of astronomical and cosmological illustrations from photographer Michael Benson’s books, Cosmographics: Picturing Space Through Time. (Thanks, Stephanie!)


    A homophobic Tumblr post becomes Queer dystopian adventure fiction in two responses. Behold! (Thanks, Adele!)


    Tony Zhou has a new video up at Every Frame A Painting. This time, he looks at Buster Keaton and, “The Art Of The Gag.”


    At Dirge Magazine, friend of the Gutter Less Lee Moore writes about the cinema of Richard Kern. “My introduction to Richard Kern was an issue of Spin magazine from the mid-1980s. Having recently fallen under the spell of the feral pleasures of Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel – a.k.a. JG Thirlwell – I was intrigued by lurid descriptions of pornographic short films featuring Thirlwell and paramour/collaborator Lydia Lunch, whose snarky sound bites I scrawled in the margins of my diaries.”


    Art Of The Title looks the opening credits for The Man In The High Castle, True Detective and at Momentum, Alex Maragos interviews Andrew Geraci about making the opening credits for House Of Cards.


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