The Cultural Gutter

the cult in your pop culture

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

Thinking About Serial

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At The Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance considers whether it is wrong to be hooked on the Serial podcast in which journalist Sarah Koenig investigates a 1999 murder in Baltimore. “But Serial is also a story about storytelling. Listeners ride along with Koenig each week as she does her investigative work. We hear the reportorial leads that […]

“The Ministry of Sickness and Death”

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Jake Adelstein has shared an unpublished chapter of his book Tokyo Vice online.  “This chapter never made the final cut of Tokyo Vice because it’s not about crime or the underworld. It is about the battle to tell the truth when it is inconvenient for the powers that be to have it known.  It could […]

“Here’s Why Everybody In The Video Game World Is Fighting”

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At Vox, The Gameological Society’s Todd Van Der Werff has a pretty good synopsis of the recent trouble in gaming.   Like this:Like Loading…

Apocalypse Games

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Three articles on the end of “gamer” as an identity, on the end of gatekeeping and the end of gaming culture: Leigh Alexander at Gamasutra; Dr. Nerdlove; and Dan Golding. “And the sad thing is: nobody’s trying to destroy games.“ Like this:Like Loading…

RIP, Robert Drew

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Filmmaker, cinema verité innovator and journalist Robert Drew has died. The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Guardian have obituaries. Grantland has a memoriam of his work and life. “Drew died last week. He was 90. His genre was cinema verité, which is a much more artful way into truth. He made portraits […]

RIP, Margot Adler

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Journalist Margot Adler has died. She is best known for her work as a journalist on NPR, but she also created the speculative fiction radio program, “The Hour Of The Wolf” and was the writer of Drawing Down The Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (1979) and Vampires Are Us: Understanding […]

Female Friendship and the Slenderman Stabbing

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“[The Slenderman Stabbing] appears to echo patterns of behavior—belief in culturally-supported fantasies, tightly-cathected bonds between young women, an intensity of connection that has occasionally led to violence—that have occurred repeatedly, in various forms, throughout history and around the world. And they happen outside the heterosexual framework we use to understand [Elliot] Rodgers’ misogynistic rampage. This crime is […]

Collection of R.K. Laxman Cartoons

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The Times of India has collected a gallery of satirical cartoons by R.K. Laxman. And here are episodes of R.K. Laxman Ki Duniya, a tv show based on his work. (Thanks, Sava!) Like this:Like Loading…

Free Chapter of Tokyo Vice

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“Bury Me In A Shallow Grave: When The Yakuza Come Calling,” a free . pdf chapter from Jake Adelstein’s book, Tokyo Vice. Like this:Like Loading…

“He looks just like what you want a hitman to look like”

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Jeanne Marie Laskas tells the story of an ATF agent who works undercover as a hitman. Hear an interview with her at NPR and read the story at GQ. Like this:Like Loading…

Old Crime Photos in a New Context

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Marc Hermann superimposes historic NY Daily News crime photos onto contemporary photos of the same locations. (Thanks, Edie!) Like this:Like Loading…

RIP, Elmore Leonard

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Writer Elmore Leonard has died. The Detroit News remembers Leonard and reprints his “Squad 7: Impressions of Murder.” The Detroit Free Press also remembers Leonard. The Onion offers their own tribute. Here is a three-part interview Leonard did at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference. Cinemablend shares their favorite film adaptations of Leonard’s work. Like […]

RIP, Kim Thompson

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Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson has died. The Seattle Times, Comics Alliance, and The AV Club have obituaries. Fantagraphics’ Gary Groth wrote the obituary for the Fantagraphics blog. Like this:Like Loading…

Comics Alliance: The Return

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Hey, everybody, Comics Alliance is back! (via @World_Of_Hurt) Like this:Like Loading…

“Revenge, Ego and the Corruption of Wikipedia”

A novelist takes revenge on writers he doesn’t like via wikipedia. Slate has the story. “Qworty’s edits undermine our trust in this great project. Qworty’s edits prove that Wikipedia’s content can be shaped by people settling grudges and acting out of spite and envy. Qworty alone, by his own account, has made 13,000 edits to […]

“¡Viva, Comics Alliance!”

At The Comics Journal, Joe McCulloch speaks to the legacy of Comics Alliance. The Beat‘s Steve Morris writes about what Comics Alliance meant to him. ” If Comics Alliance was known for anything – aside from the much-needed essays on prejudice and progression, aside from discussion of Batman punching people with car parts, aside from […]

Satirizing China

The New York Times interviews Mr. R, mastermind behind the China Daily Show, “a ‘fake news’ Web site in a country that is crying out for satire, where reality is so skewed by propaganda and inadvertent humor that it can be hard to tell the difference[.]” Like this:Like Loading…

Interview with Kurt Busiek

In honor of Lois Lane’s first appearance 75 years ago, Kurt Busiek talks about Lois with DC Women Kicking Ass. “If you’re a ne’er-do-well, the last person you want trying to get the goods on you in Lois, because she just doesn’t quit.” Like this:Like Loading…

Update on Gordon Liu

Jayne Stars has an update on Gordon Liu’s condition and situation since his 2011 stroke and the subsequent rumors about financial struggles with his family and former assistant. Like this:Like Loading…

“My So-Called ‘Post-Feminist’ Life In Arts and Letters”

“There’s a reason J.K. Rowling’s publishers demanded that she use initials instead of “Joanne”: it’s the same reason Mary Anne Evans used the pen name George Eliot; the same reason Robert Southey, then England’s poet laureate, wrote to Charlotte Brontë: ‘Literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life, and it ought not to be.’” […]

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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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