The Cultural Gutter

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

Writers’ “Lowbrow” Influences

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Writers share their “lowbrow” and gutter influences at Electric Lit: “I love Melville but Melville never wrote me a Choose Your Own Adventure book. And I needed that experience first if I was ever going to get to Melville.” Like this:Like Loading…

10 Comics I Liked In 2013

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It’s an amazing time in comics right now. There are too many good ones for me to even read them all. Comics are like a hydra, but without the decapitation or even really the fighting. (So maybe not all that much like a hydra except I find one comic and then there are 3-6 more […]

The Stephen King Universe

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This week, Science Fiction Editor Emeritus James Schellenberg returns as a Guest Star. Screen Editor alex MacFadyen will return next month. You can easily glance off the top of any book by Stephen King–get a few frights and move on. But there’s a hidden world beneath almost all of his books, and not only is […]

An Oral History of Evil Dead II

“I think I can speak for all of us: We’d rather be doing slapstick comedy. But because we were so concerned, at the time, with getting our work into theaters, we thought: ‘Eh, horror films. That’s a good way in.’” More history of Evil Dead II at The Hollywood Reporter. (via The Projection Booth) Like […]

Rereading Stephen King’s IT

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At Tor.com, Grady Hendrix rereads Stephen King’s IT: Like this:Like Loading…

Under The Dome, Reviewed

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Grady Hendrix reviews episodes of the tv adaptation of Stephen King’s Under The Dome for Tor.com. Science Fiction Editor Emeritus James wrote about the book here. They are both disappointed, but their disappointment is interesting and sometimes hilarious. Like this:Like Loading…

The Trouble with Endings, Part 2: The Re-conclusioning

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The trouble with endings, of course, is that they are really difficult to do well. I’ll try to take that warning to heart myself, since this piece will be my last for The Cultural Gutter. And what better way to wrap up a really fun time on a neat project than to look at endings! […]

The Dark Tower, Videogame Soundtrack Edition

Speaking from recent experience, I don’t recommend getting a cold/cough/(something virulent and archaic, like consumption?) that sticks around for 4-5 weeks. It kinda sucks. With reduced brainpower, I’ve been watching a lot of Rifftrax (“There can be only one?? You should have mentioned that earlier!”). Fun, but not much to say, except that, yup, Highlander […]

The Great Stephen King Re-Read: Night Shift

Grady Hendrix has been re-reading Stephen King’s books. Night Shift‘s time has come. “Night Shift would not only earn him a lot of Hollywood bank, and it wouldn’t just introduce him to Dino De Laurentiis, but it also spawned six feature films, one film franchise, four television movies, and an uncountable number of short movies. It […]

The Specter of Frankenstein

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The specter of Victor Frankenstein’s creature has been haunting me, confronting me with the horror if his creation and inherent in his being. He stalks me, in his way, as surely as he stalked Victor. Perhaps he’s just been curiously peering at me, as the creature watched humans in Mary Shelley’s novel, emulating our virtues […]

Rambles

In which I take a rambling walk through some recent semi-connected pop culture items, starting with a videogame reboot that’s actually worth playing, moving on to nostalgia for a nostalgia-based movie, and ending with a look at child actors, in reality and in novel form. Like this:Like Loading…

“How Pet Sematary Changed My Life”

Joe Humphrey relates his own coming of age with Stephen King’s books and movies based on King’s stories at Paracinema. Like this:Like Loading…

Carrie the Musical

Some thoughts on the new musical version of Carrie. Like this:Like Loading…

DKS/MW and Under the Dome

Via the Wertzone: RIP Darrell K. Sweet (and Michael Whelan will be doing the last Wheel of Time cover), and a blistering review of Under the Dome (which might explain the non-review here on the Gutter last year). Like this:Like Loading…

Human Centipede 2: Say Goodnight to the Bad Guy!

This week Gutter Guest Darryl Shaw fills in for Screen Editor alex MacFadyen. “I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. […]

Ruled by the Subconscious

A confession: I’m having trouble making my way through Stephen King’s Under the Dome. I must also confess I’m a bit puzzled by this. I’m definitely a fan of King’s work. And from what I’ve read so far, this book sticks pretty closely to high points of his career. What gives? Like this:Like Loading…

Stephen King’s new enormous bestseller-to-be

Linda Holmes says, “Thank Goodness Stephen King is making backbreaking, self-indulgent doorstops again.” And she means it. Like this:Like Loading…

ONE TRILLION AND ONE LEANING TOWERS

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1. Overture IslandOn December 4, 2008, the future ended. The event that marked its end was the death of a 92-year old man from the not uncommon cause of heart failure. It would not have been an epoch-ending event save for one detail: the man’s name was Forest J Ackerman. Like this:Like Loading…

Swords and Sorcery of an Old School Nature

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Fighting the Thieves’ Guild. Beautiful wenches, dazzling swordplay, heaps of treasure, dark spells. Where do all these cliches come from? A lot of them are from people who ripped off Fritz Lieber, who could write circles around just about anybody. And show us a good time doing it too. Like this:Like Loading…

All People Are Sheep… Except You, Dear Reader

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Flatter your reader. That sounds like a pretty solid narrative strategy! Make your audience think they are really smart, and they’ll probably come back for more. Books can do this automatically, just by the virtue of taking us into the thoughts of other people – not so easy in real life. Some stories take us […]

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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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