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

Summer Fun Time Reading ’14

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Summer is almost here, and I can’t tell you how glad I am. So smear yourself up with sunscreen and bug repellent, find your kickiest sandals, put the finishing touches on your Wicker Man and don’t forget to wear a hat because I have some comics to make your summer just a little more fun […]

RIP, Casey Kasem

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Actor and DJ Casey Kasem has died. Kasem hosted American Top 40 and was the original voice of Shaggy in Scooby-Doo, voiced Robin in Batman (1968 cartoon) and Super Friends, and voiced Cliffjumper in Transformers: The Movie (1986) and multiple characters in the 1980s Transformers cartoon. At The Record, Bilal Qureshi remembers Kasem. The Washington […]

“On One Single Panel in Batman, Inc. #8″

At Too Busy Thinking About My Comics, Colin writes on the murder of Robin, Damian Wayne, as it is depicted in a single panel. “Why does this scene exist? It exists to make entertainment out of a boy’s last, baleful moments. Beyond that, it has no purpose at all. If an objection to that needs […]

LEGO Superman in LEGO Gotham City

MTV Geek‘s Charles Webb got a preview of LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes.  “Their latest features the Dynamic Duo teaming up with the Justice League after the Joker forms an alliance with Superman’s arch-nemesis Lex Luthor based on a story by Traveller’s Tales.”  There are screenshots…  

The Secret History of the Skeleton Suit (in Japan)

I appreciate Lord Death Man’s flair, his élan, panache, the way he daringly wears brown leather gloves, belt and boots with his high-contrast black and white skeleton suit—and makes it work. Of the many skeleton suits in the criminal underworld, I would wear Lord Death Man’s.

Planning the Hit on Stephanie Brown

At the Auckland Writers and Readers Fest, writer Dylan Horrocks talked about being in the meetings where  the death of Stephanie Brown, the superhero Spoiler and a female Robin, was planned, :  “As well as a Dan DiDio impersonation, he told the audience that the writers were told two things about the Batman: War Games […]

10 Comics I Liked in 2010

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Sometimes it’s easy to forget why I like comics and 2010 was a particularly tough year, in comics and otherwise. But here are 10 that reminded me why I do like them. There’s a lot of crime, anthropomorphic animals, gorgeous art, silly fun, people dealing with things the best they can, and plenty of Greg […]

Batwoman: Elegaic

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In this time of uncertainty and dread, with Batman dying and Dick Grayson taking up the cowl, with dead Robins returning all crazy or replacing Batgirl, with Bruce Wayne taking a global crimefighting initiative Batman Inc. public, there’s one thing I am sure Gotham that has going for it: Batwoman.

Superhero Fashion with Tim Gunn and Crazy Sexy Geeks

Tim Gunn thinks the Hulk should wear a suit all the time.  “It mitigates all that mass.” Part 2 of Crazy Sexy Geeks’ discussion of superhero fashion with Tim Gunn.

Scarred by SuperFriends

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Friends, I wasn’t always the superhero-loving comics reader you see before you. I underwent a tribulation, a trial of faith, wandering in a wilderness without capes. My resistance to superheros and the Justice League of America in particular stemmed from one root: The SuperFriends. I can’t, in general, argue with the idea of super-friendship, but […]

So Many Fan Films!

The monkeys over at See Monkey round up a whole whack of fan film action including “the greatest fan film of all time,” which “def[ies] all laws of God, man and intellectual property and cramming vastly different fictive universes — Marvel, DC, Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, you name it — into one great big ball […]

“Are there any comics about ponies?”

Sure, it’s from 2007, but Girl-Wonder.org had my favorite April Fool’s ever.

Nobody Dies: The Eternal Return of LEGO Batman

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I’ve written before that I was put off superhero comics by all the dying and resurrected X-Men—the eternal return and the attempts to escape it. You might have noticed that DC and Marvel’s superhero titles have become a bloodbath. Sure, it started it with big crossovers and the death of Superman. Captain America’s death at […]

13 Ways of Looking at a Bat

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“Among twenty empty warehouses, The only moving thing Was the eye of the Batman.” –sorta Wallace Stevens You should know right from the start that I’m a terrible geek—not extremely geeky, but bad at being a geek. Continuity in the sense of an overarching, epic and harmonized chronology just isn’t that important to me. What […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Paleofuture, Matt Novak writes about Idiocracy‘s unpleasant implications: “Sure. As an over-the-top comedic dystopia, the movie is actually enjoyable. But the movie’s introduction makes it an unnerving reference to toss around as our go-to insult….Unlike other films that satirize the media and the soul-crushing consequences of sensationalized entertainment (my personal favorite being 1951′s Ace in the Hole), Idiocracy lays the blame at the feet of an undeserved target (the poor) while implicitly advocating a terrible solution (eugenics). The movie’s underlying premise is a fundamentally dangerous and backwards way to understand the world.” (via The Projection Booth)

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    Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley looks at “The 1979 Rockford Files Episode That Inspired The Sopranos.” “A gang from Newark’s South Side is hiding Vinnie Martine’s body in a restaurant freezer. Tony’s mad because Anthony Jr. got caught pranking another mobster. And a boss who’s trying to reform gets his mansion sprayed with bullets. Remember that episode of The Sopranos? If you do, your memory’s playing tricks on you, because all these things happened on a 1979 episode of The Rockford Files—written by Sopranos creator David Chase.”

    And McKinley defends classic television with, “In Praise of Vintage Television.”

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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 Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side (2014). The New York Times, NPR and  Suvudu have obituaries.  Here Adler discusses Vampires Are Us. And here is an excerpt from Adler’s memoir, Heretic’s Heart (1997).

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    The Toronto International Film Festival has announced its Midnight Madness and Vanguard programs for 2014. There’s lots of goodness in there and it’s worth taking a look even if you aren’t going to the festival, so you can you movie watching later this year or next. We’ll be posting the trailers from the films later.

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    Actor James Shigeta has died. Shigeta appeared in Die Hard (1988), The Crimson Kimono (1959) The Flower Drum Song (1961),  Bridge To The Sun (1961), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), The Yakuza (1974) and many, many television shows.  The AV Club, Den Of Geek and Angry Asian Man have obituaries. Bridge to the Sun is discussed by Robert Osborne and Dr. Peter Feng on TCM.  At RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz writes an appreciation of Shigeta’s life and work. “Shigeta, who died yesterday at 81, was a marvelous performer, and his work as Nakatomi Corporation President Joseph Takagi in the original 1988 Die Hard is one of my favorite examples of how an imaginative actor can sketch out a life in just a few scenes and lines.”

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    At RogerEbert.com, Alan Zilberman explores the history of the eye in cinema from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) to Mark Cahill’s I Origins (2014). (via Matt Zoller Seitz)

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