The Cultural Gutter

hey, there's something shiny down there...

"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 […]

“Dungeons & Dragons & Philosophers”

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At Existential Comics, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Immanuel Kant, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida play Dungeons & Dragons. Like this:Like Loading…

“Blood, Meth and Tears”

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At Cinema Junkie, Beth Accomando says good-bye to Breaking Bad: “In the end for me what Breaking Bad delivered was a portrait of America and a distinctly American sense of identity. By tapping into the western genre, the show starts with something quintessentially American. That genre is prone to celebrate the individual over the community […]

Is that a gun in your sweatpants?
Art, morality and The Superbowl

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I told my 3 year old that I’d find a bed for his google-eyed dinosaur. “I promise, sweetheart.” Then, after 45 minutes of ducking in and out of his room with him crying and the senile cat howling in the background while I tried to write an article, I threw the dinosaur across the living […]

Moral Failure, Procedural Success and Zero Dark Thirty

“Recall that Bigelow wanted to make a movie about the failure to capture bin Laden, before the whole world knew, as she puts it, that he’s dead. Consider that she has still made a movie about a failure, a moral failure, our failure, embedded in a procedural success.” Sarah Nicole Prickett has more about Kathryn […]

“No Matter How Hard They’re Punched: Superheroes and Real World Issues”

Books and Adventures finishes off a series on comics and educations with a discussion of superheroes and real world issues between Books and Adventures’ Matt Finch, Professor Mark D. White of CUNY; Tom Miller of McMaster University; critic, screenwriter and University of Melbourne graduate student, Martyn Pedler; and artist-educator and doctoral candidate at Teachers College, […]

“What destroys the mortals is not a system, but a fellow mortal.”

Michelle Kuo and Albert Wu compare Breaking Bad with The Sopranos, The Wire and Mad Men before examining its approach to evil:  “Within this quartet, Breaking Bad is most similar to The Wire, and indeed is its twin and mirror image….David Simon likened The Wire to a Greek tragedy, by which he meant that sociology […]

Spider-Man and Torture

Colin Smith and Mark White write on Spider-Man, torture and character in response to Spider-Man’s torturing Sandman.  Colin has more on the response to his piece as well. Like this:Like Loading…

Leaving DC and Marvel

At Comics Alliance, David Brothers details why he decided to stop reading DC and Marvel comics. Meanwhile, The Comics Journal interviews Chris Roberson on why he decided to stop writing for DC. Like this:Like Loading…

6000 Words on Summer Comic Book Movies

Over at The Hathor Legacy, we find out Why Captain America is Better than X-Men: First Class and Thor: “Captain America is very much a movie about the choices people make, and trying to be a good person, which is pretty rare in mainstream cinema.” Like this:Like Loading…

Jia Zhangke Speaks Out Against Cenorship in China

“The only reason that we cannot make genre movies is the barrier that censorship sets.” Jia Zhangke says more here.  Meanwhile a leaked diplomatic document gives  some insight as to whose taste is being served in recent Chinese historical epics.  Xi Jinping admires American World War II dramas:  “Some Chinese moviemakers neglect values they should promote…America […]

Kirkbride, Castles of the Midwest.

Kirkbride Buildings are the castles of the American Midwest. They’re also 19th century State Hospitals. Like this:Like Loading…

Milestone!

So much Milestone going on! Milestone creator Dwayne McDuffie talks with The Atlantic about “reinventing personal mythologies, pop-cultural representations of race and an investigation of what shapes our moral frameworks” and how much he likes writing romance.  Meanwhile, Evan Narcisse shares his memories of Milestone Comics–with pictures. Like this:Like Loading…

Hollow Victory

The Artful Gamer writes about the hollow victory of playing a good character in many roleplaying videogames: “Yet, days later, I feel like Conan the Barbarian, sitting on his throne at the end of the first film like a king who has done it all yet feels ultimately unfulfilled. This is when the spiritual hollowness […]

Are Video Games Moral?

Are video games moral? Yes, but what does “moral” mean, writes Oliver Saenz in “Killing Grannies, Slaughtering Monsters and Leveling the Fuck Up.” Like this:Like Loading…

Civil Engineer

Sad citizens? Buy them some entertainers!

Jeff Chapman started playing Civilization (MicroProse, 1991) when it came out and never stopped. He’s played the strategy turn-based videogame series for the past decade I’ve known him. Far from letting it consume him, he’s balanced his job as editor of History Magazine with a plethora of other projects, and so I thought he would […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Actor Billie Whitelaw has died. Whitelaw was Samuel Beckett’s “perfect actress” and she also appeared in television and films, including: Gumshoe (1971), Frenzy (1972), The Omen (1976), Space: 1999 (“One Moment of Humanity”) (1976), The Dark Crystal (1982), The Secret Garden (1987), The Krays (1990), Jane Eyre (1996), Quills (2000) and Hot Fuzz (2007).  The Guardian, the BBC and Variety have obituaries. Here Whitelaw performs in Beckett’s “Happy Days” and “Not I,” written by Beckett for Whitelaw.

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    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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