The Cultural Gutter

taking the dumb out of fandom

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

The Good Outnumber You: A Look at Heroism in Storytelling

powerman and iron fist picture

When I was a mere lad, I picked up a battered newsstand copy of Power Man and Iron Fist. I had grown up with superheroes in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, The Incredible Hulk, and The Herculoids on the television, but my comics reading prior to that issue of Power Man and Iron Fist was […]

“The Rape of James Bond”

Sophia McDougall writes about “sexual assault and ‘Realism’ in popular culture.” (via @Pornokitsch)

Catharsis denied: when fiery doom
is an anti-climax

lego mount doom 2

When I was about 12, my parents took me to see a stage version of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings performed with life-sized puppets. As Frodo was agonizing over pitching his precious ring into the fiery pit of Mount Doom, Sam, exhausted from the epic journey but determined to help his beloved friend, inched […]

Some superpowers are just useless enough to be real

astral projection

My best friend growing up had a theory about people claiming to have special abilities like ESP, levitation, or astral projection. She had a babysitter who claimed she could levitate, but only when she was alone. My friend’s theory wasn’t that these things were impossible, but that realistically they wouldn’t be very cool. She figured […]

Batman and the Heroes of Aurora

Gail Simone has written a very personal, moving piece on the Aurora shooting and the power of heroes. “I write stories about morals all day…stories about fictional heroes and fictional villains. And I want to believe they have influenced my life, that they have taught me to stand up when called upon, to try to […]

“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 […]

How to Make Better Heroes

How to make better heroes?  Weaken them.

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.

Heroes vs. Villains

It might be Round 7, but it’s not too late to particpate in Cinematical’s Heroes vs. Villains tournament. Vote here.

What’s Happened to Superman?

At his superb blog, Too Busy Thinking About My Comics, Colin Smith wonders, what’s happened to Superman? “For I can’t help believing that Clark isn’t walking across America to find either it or himself, but to avoid finding himself. Or to put it another way; he isn’t walking to anything at all, but rather, he’s […]

Heroine Addict


Apparently, once I get started on archetypes, I can’t stop. So having touched on the archtypes found in stories and in heroes, I’m going to have to complete the trifecta. Theories about the nature of the modern Romance heroine are legion. She’s a placeholder. She’s an expression of modern femininity. She’s an aspect of human […]

The Pitiful Death of Monsieur Mallah

mallah bashed 80.JPG

There’s a sickness in my stomach I’ve been carrying a while, an unpleasant acid feeling that bothers me when I’ve been reading or reading about comics lately. And I guess it’s time for me to cough it up and see what the hell is burning a hole inside.

Noir, With Feelings


Some types of stories are so familiar that the only way to tell your own version of, say, a detective yarn is to find an interesting new angle. Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series makes the title character a wizard who solves supernatural crimes in Chicago. Additionally, Harry has feelings, which seems like the more interesting […]

Holding Out For a Hero


I recently read a column by Ilona Andrews about heroes, which A) though light-hearted was also informative, and B) I immediately decided to steal use as a springboard for an article of my own.< There’s a lot of discussion as to the role of the hero in modern Romance. Is he a placeholder for the […]

Lost And Heroes, Compared.

James Poniewozik on Lost and Heroes: “Put another way: you have to be willing to suck if you ever want to be great. ‘Awesome’ and ‘awful’ are actually closer to each other on the continuum of quality than either is to ‘meh.’”

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    In a 1988 Sight And Sound interview, Patricia Highsmith talks about film adaptations of her novels, from Strangers On A Train (1950) to The American Friend (1977)


    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.”


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