The Cultural Gutter

geek chic with mad technique

"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!)

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.

Why Does Mars Need Women?

Diane Dooley writes about Mars’ need for women and ways to subvert it.

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.

“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

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 […]

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.

LEGO: Battle of Maldon

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

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.

“In Offence Re: Rape”

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

Jack Kirby’s Collage

Imprint Magazine puts Jack Kirby’s collage in an art history context.

“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.”

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

    “I want to tell you about when violent campaigns against harmless bloggers weren’t any halfway decent troll’s idea of a good time—even the then-malicious would’ve found it too easy to be fun. When the punches went up, not down. Before the best players quit or went criminal or were changed by too long a time being angry. When there was cruelty, yes, and palpable strains of sexism and racism and every kind of phobia, sure, but when these things had the character of adolescents pushing the boundaries of cheap shock, disagreeable like that but not criminal. Not because that time was defensible—it wasn’t, not really—but because it was calmer and the rage wasn’t there yet. Because trolling still meant getting a rise for a laugh, not making helpless people fear for their lives because they’re threatening some Redditor’s self-proclaimed monopoly on reason. I want to tell you about it because I want to make sense of how it is now and why it changed.” Emmett Rensin writes more at Vox.

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    At Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Elyse has some things to say about reading Romance. “In the end, it doesn’t matter what I read. It doesn’t even matter that I do read, quite frankly. What matters is that we live in a world where fiction aimed directly at women is perceived as garbage. That doesn’t say anything at all about me, it says a lot about what needs to change.”

    ~

    Brain Pickings looks at the life and work of Tove Jansson and the wisdom of her character, Too-ticky. “Too-ticky, the sage of Moominvalley who solves even the most existential of problems with equal parts practicality and wisdom, was inspired by the love of Jansson’s life — the great Finnish sculptor and graphic arts pioneer Tuulikki “Tooti” Pietilä, Jansson’s spouse. The two women met in art school during their twenties and remained together until Jansson’s death more than six decades later, collaborating on a lifetime of creative projects — all at a time when queer couples were straddling the impossible line between anguishing invisibility and dangerous visibility.” (via Kate Laity)

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    Photographer Kevin Weir uses vintage photographs to create haunting animation in “The Flux Machine.” The Guardian has an interview with Weir and more on his work.

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    At the New Yorker, Jill Lepore considers the intertwining histories of women’s suffrage, feminism, Amazons and Wonder Woman. “It isn’t only that Wonder Woman’s backstory is taken from feminist utopian fiction. It’s that, in creating Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston was profoundly influenced by early-twentieth-century suffragists, feminists, and birth-control advocates and that, shockingly, Wonder Woman was inspired by Margaret Sanger, who, hidden from the world, was a member of Marston’s family.”

     

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    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 also the greatest, most liberating thing and you can and should totally do it.” (Thanks, Colin!)

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