The Cultural Gutter

dumpster diving of the brain

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

You really should have given up

Let go

I’m still thinking about willpower from my last article, and while it’s true that ‘stick-to-it-iveness’ (as my Grandma used to call it) is an important skill, it also really helps to know when to bail. Oddly, even though the desire to give up comes pretty naturally, deciding when you should actually do it doesn’t seem […]

Bright spot theory and the
science of the heart

My heart is like a toddler. It has very little concern for cause and effect and only a tenuous grasp on temporality. All sorts of things it really ought to know by now, it doesn’t appear to. I’ve had years to teach it better social behavior, but it’s basically still the kid jumping up and […]

Forget the consequences, just get me
a sandwich

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Over the past several months I’ve been working my way through all of Pendleton Ward‘s Adventure Time, in part because it comes in 11 minute segments that are easy to squeeze into tiny cracks of spare time, but mostly because it’s awesome. There are lots of things to love about it – the humor, the weirdness, the […]

The Philosophy of Hayao Miyazaki

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A five page comic illustrating Hayao Miyazaki’s thoughts on good, evil and heroism. (Thanks, Paul!) Like this:Like Loading…

RIP, Iain Banks

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Writer Iain Banks has died. The Guardian has an obituary.  Neil Gaiman remembers Banks and the BBC gathers remembrances. Here, Banks talks with University Lecturer in Creative Writing Derek Neale. Like this:Like Loading…

Why Does Mars Need Women?

Diane Dooley writes about Mars’ need for women and ways to subvert it. Like this:Like Loading…

The Good Outnumber You: A Look at Heroism in Storytelling

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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 […]

Kurosawa Week At Trailers From Hell

This week Trailers from Hell celebrates the films of Akira Kurosawa. First up, director Brian Trenchard-Smith discusses Rashomon (1950) in just over the time it takes to play the trailer. Like this:Like Loading…

“Uncanny Avengers, X-Men, Rick Remender, and Oppression Comix”

“[T]he X-Men are a lot of things to a lot of people, but one of the most important things they are—I’m talking top two, right after “sexy people with cool powers”—is an oppression metaphor. You cannot escape this. It is built into the X-Men’s DNA….The oppression metaphor is a vital piece of the engine that […]

Catharsis denied: when fiery doom
is an anti-climax

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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 […]

Cinematic Narrative and the Ethics of Slaying Monsters

In 1988, I spent more hours of my life than I care to recall playing Zelda II: The Adventure of Link on my original 8-bit Nintendo. Combined with Ridley Scott’s Legend, Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal, and Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride, it gave me a soft spot for sword and sorcery. Playing Shadow of the […]

A History of Cinderella

Terry Windling recounts the history of the Ash Girl or Cinderella story from the 9th Century Yeh–hsien to the Disney film, Cinderella, based on Charles Perrault’s 1697 version. Like this:Like Loading…

LEGO: Battle of Maldon

LEGO Vikings attack in the animated “Battle of Maldon”, and with Old English subtitles. (Thanks, Kate Laity!) Like this:Like Loading…

Nothing Ape Is Strange To Me

I am Ape. Nothing Ape is strange to me.–Publius Terentius Afer (sort of) For what is there beautiful in man,-what, I pray you, worthy of admiration, or comely–unless that which, some poet has maintained, he possesses in common with the ape? –Arnobius I’m surrounded by a stack of comics and one illustrated novel all set […]

Get Lamp

A trailer for the documentary on text adventure games and their designers, Get Lamp. Like this:Like Loading…

“In Offence Re: Rape”

Mighty God King responds to game designer James Desborough’s essay, “In Defence of Rape.” Like this:Like Loading…

Jack Kirby’s Collage

Imprint Magazine puts Jack Kirby’s collage in an art history context. Like this:Like Loading…

“I said I liked it; I didn’t say I wanted to kiss it.”

At MovieMorlocks.com, Susan Doll shares her thoughts on film noir dialogue: “The volley of barbed wisecracks is not only an indicator of sexual attraction but also a substitute for sex in the era when the Production Code did not allow direct depictions or expressions of lust and desire.” Like this:Like Loading…

Master of Infinite Kung Fu

I always have trouble writing about comics that I think are good, just excellent and existing in their own seamless perfection, which means that here at the Gutter I don’t always write about the comics that I love most. I want to do credit to them and save them till I have more time. Sometimes, […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    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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    At The Guardian, Keith Stuart and Steve Boxer look at the history of PlayStation.“Having been part of the late 80s rave and underground-clubbing scene, I recognised how it was influencing the youth market. In the early 90s, club culture started to become more mass market, but the impetus was still coming from the underground, from key individuals and tribes. What it showed me was that you had to identify and build relationships with those opinion-formers – the DJs, the music industry, the fashion industry, the underground media.” (via @timmaughan)

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    Neill Cameron has re-imagined the characters of Parks & Recreation as members of Starfleet. (Via @neillcameron)

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    Christopher Lee has released a promotional video for his latest album, Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing.  You should probably watch everything at Charlemagne Productions.

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