The Cultural Gutter

taking trash seriously

"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 […]

Black Napoleon’s Throne Of Satan

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This week, Guest Star David Foster writes about how an Australian pulp thriller is altered when it was published in the United States as part of the Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit‘s Swapathon. Comics Editor Carol will be back in April. There are many elements that made up the counter culture movement of the […]

Ask Chris #173: The Trouble With Harley Quinn”

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Chris Sims writes about Harley Quinn, Batman: The Animated Series, and the problem with getting Harley wrong. “See, that’s the tragedy of Harley Quinn, the thing that makes her so compelling underneath all the bright, poppy cheer. She’s in love with someone who will never, ever love her back. Someone who can never, ever love […]

“The Bond Origins of Chastity Flame”

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At Of Human Bond_Age_, author Kate Laity writes about her secret agent, Chastity Flame, and the appeal of secret agents (and maniacal supervillains): “When I describe my secret agent Chastity Flame to people I usually use the shorthand description that she’s like an über-sexy female James Bond. Since the Bond reboot with the yummy Daniel […]

Sexy Supervillian Pin-Ups

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Evan Munday has created a gallery of his supervillain erotica. “[A]s I noted in one of the oddest interviews I’ve ever done, with Playboy‘s sort-of-safe-for-work site, comic readers are used to having their female characters overtly sexualized. Despite the spandex and bulging muscles, male characters just aren’t treated the same way by illustrators. So at […]

“Starfleet Must Be Destroyed”

At Sequart, Julian Darius makes the case that Star Trek: Into Darkness damages the Star Trek franchise and that “Starfleet must be destroyed.” (via Mike White)

The Empire of Crime: Mabuse vs. Wertham vs. Marston

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When humanity, subjugated by the terror of crime, has been driven insane by fear and horror, and when chaos has become supreme law, then the time will have come for the empire of crime.” –The Testament of Dr. Mabuse “[W]hatever factors come into play in the cases that we have studied, the conclusion is inescapable […]

RIP, Ray Cusick

Production Designer Ray Cusick has died. Cusick is most famous for creating Doctor Who’s nemeses, The Daleks, but he also worked on Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple (1985 & 1987), Cold Comfort Farm (1968) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1975). The BBC reports on his death and the creation of the Daleks here and here.

“On Secret Six The Talking House

Colin Smith meditates on the final trade paperback of Gail Simone’s Secret Six.   “In Secret Six, the reader was perpetually compelled to feel compassion for the book’s fundamentally dysfunctional and irrevocably dangerous cast. No matter how much harm they were shown inflicting upon the world around them, we were still encouraged to note the […]

Batman vs. Mystery

Comics Alliance’s Senior Batmanologist Chris Sims lays out how the Dark Knight would foil pickup artist Mystery’s “Art Gallery Scheme.”  

Terror of Monkeys vs. Robots

Manipulated by mad scientists, humiliated for humanity’s pleasure, will robots and apes tire of making our cars, vacuuming our floors, fighting our wars, washing our cats and smoking our cigarettes? Who will break first as humankind continually fails to distinguish androids from robots, apes from monkeys? We return again to the question that 2012 inevitably […]

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.

Lord Death Man is a Song

Xiu Xiu’s Sam Mickens sings about “Lord Death Man,” the chilling Batman villain from Bat-Manga! and Batman, Inc., at Comics Alliance.

Born in Blood

"Brow up, Blake."

I’ve been watching Dexter, and thinking about Thomas Blake, Catman in Gail Simone’s comic, Secret Six (DC, 2008-2011). With his tousled blond hair and predatory grin, Michael C. Hall would make an excellent candidate for any portrayal of Catman.  But there are deeper resonances beyond physical resemblance.

Catwoman: Hypersexualized

ComicbookGRRRL writes about the history of Catwoman and the hypersexualization of a sexual woman:   “At first glance, the cover of the upcoming Catwoman #1 may not be seen as terribly out of place for a character who is so openly sexual and enjoys revelling in the power she holds over lustful men. But female fans […]

Jack Kirby Draws the Face of Doom

Jack Kirby draws the face of Doom in 22:42 (Thanks, ShelfLifeCC!)

“Darkseid IS”

Have you accepted that Darkseid will eventually discover the Anti-Life Equation and render the entire universe in to a desolate hellscape of firepits and despair? This Darkseid Chick Tract could help you realize the inevitability of his triumph. (Thanks, houseinrlyeh!)

Knowing is Half the Battle

Cobra Industries promotional video.

Designing the Secret Six

Dale Eaglesham sketches out the “Anatomy of a Design Brainstorm” with sketches of the Secret Six.

Heroes vs. Villains

It might be Round 7, but it’s not too late to particpate in Cinematical’s Heroes vs. Villains tournament. Vote here.

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Mostly Film, Blake Backlash writes about films “mixing of Hollywood’s Grande Dames with Grand Guignol.”  “Such cinematic mixing of Grande Dames and Grand Guignol had its heyday in the second-half of the sixties, and such films are sometimes (more-or-less) affectionately known as psycho-biddy pictures. They tended to feature an actress over 50 in some sort of peril, a melodramatic plot and a title that ends in a question mark.  But there is another, related tradition that goes back further that I think we could place these films in.” (via Dr. Giallo)

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    “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.”

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    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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