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

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 […]

The People’s Mario

Mario is a hero of the Proletariat. Like this:Like Loading…

Dealing with the R-Type Personality

R-Type brighter 80.jpg

R-Type has a funny way of showing its affection. It doesn’t give you black eyes, but it still makes them red and twitchy. You don’t eat as much. You abuse caffeine and other stimulants, as if that makes much of a difference. Its benchmark of expectation keeps rising. Make no mistake: The standards presented will […]

Press Start

Press Start is a Montreal show dedicated to art based on old videogames.  Game Set Watch has pictures and links to pictures and to an associated store. Like this:Like Loading…

NES Groove

Do you enjoy the music of NES games? Well, there’s a show just for you. This time, the music of “Fester’s Quest.” Like this:Like Loading…

8 Bit Batman and Beyond

Laura Hudson looks at 8 Bit Batman and beyond through 23 years of Batman in videogames. (via the ISB) Like this:Like Loading…

45 Ways of Looking at the Mario Bros.

The Design Inspiration collects 45 portraits of the Mushroom Kingdom’s favorite heroes, Mario and Luigi. Like this:Like Loading…

Soap Pwnage

Play NES in your tub safe and sound–or pretend to play Super Mario with a soap controller that looks amazingly like the real thing. (And check out Fight Club soap with no rich ladies’ fat in it; then again, rich ladies might still be vegan…) Like this:Like Loading…

Mario Kart Love Song

“Mario Kart Love Song.” blinktwice4y’s song about Mario Kart and Love. The ‘stache makes it, though. Like this:Like Loading…

Do You Want Fries With That?

A brief history of advergames

Last year when I heard that Burger King was planning to release a series of video games for the Xbox 360, I thought the game industry was headed for a new low. To me, this went way beyond the shameless hordes of promotional tie-ins to popular movies and TV shows, and seemed more inappropriate than […]

But Will Your Parents Play?

A crucial turning point for video games.

Based on the reaction to the November launch of the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii through sales and media attention, it’s clear that gaming as a cultural phenomenon has cemented itself into the collective consciousness. Local news media observed in awe as the faithful lined up outside their local electronics retailer at midnight in order […]

What Happened to the Arcade?

Wobbly joysticks and grudge matches.

The arcade was a place of refuge for the outcasts of adolescent social circles, where time would be spent dumping quarters into some dumb machine instead of studying or playing ball hockey or parking their ass in front of the TV like every other kid. Communities were built among the cabinets with their sticky buttons […]

a game for all ages

Before the press conferences of the Big Three at E3 2006, TIME magazine explains why Nintendo’s strategy for success is “don’t listen to your customers”. And given the anticipation for their revolutionary new console, it seems to be working. Like this:Like Loading…

Mario’s Pain

Jumping on monster heads all day takes its toll.

A man is having his first physiotherapy appointment. A woman comes in wearing a white doctor’s coat. Their conversation begins on a clinical level, the doctor asking the man about how he sustained his injuries. The man explains that he works in the videogame industry, and in fact has come from work. She assumes that […]

Read Only Memories

I’m fairly suspicious of nostalgia, and I hate how advertisers leverage our emotions to sell us the same products twice. So while I’m happy that people are rediscovering videogames from their youth, and that the games and their blocky aesthetic are mushrooming up all over the culture, I wonder about the retro-gaming phenomenon. Are these […]

No Love For the Glove

The line between gimmick and innovation is sometimes hard to draw. Game purists look down on specialized peripherals, and while I like my shotguns and dance-pads in single-purpose arcade games, I rarely think they’re justified in a multi-purpose home system. Maybe I know too many people who bought the Power Glove. This Mattel peripheral was […]

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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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