The Cultural Gutter

the cult in your pop culture

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

Return To The Planet Of Monkeys vs. Robots

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It’s time to return to a question I first confronted five years ago in  “A Matter of Evolution: Monkeys vs. Robots” and faced again in“Terror of Monkeys vs. Robots.”  The eternal question of Monkeys vs. Robots. Not just who would win in a fight. That question has been ably considered by James Kolchaka in Monkey […]

“Who Was Jack Kirby’s Darkseid?”

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At Too Busy Thinking About My Comics, Colin Smith begins an in-depth look at Jack Kirby’s most anti-life creation, Darkseid. “What follows is my attempt to work out the character of Kirby’s Darkseid during those two wonderful years in the early 1970s, when DC Comics had handed The King four spaces in their publishing schedule […]

Summer Fun Time Reading ’15

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The Summer Solstice is nearly upon us, and I’m sure you all have your wicker men (or factionalist bee helmets) nearly done and your bonfire safely planned. (Remember, Lord Summerisle recommends nude leaping as the crucial component in bonfire safety). And just in time for the arrival of summer, I have a short selection of […]

My Secret List Of Comics I Want To Read

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Since DC’s reboot, I have hinted publicly about the comics I want other people to make so that I can read them. And by hinting, I mean, “talking about them endlessly until I inevitably lose friends.” However, hinting doesn’t seem to be getting me anywhere. So I’m harnessing the inconceivable power of The Cultural Gutter […]

“He Wears The Mask Just To Cover The Raw Flesh”


At The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about Dr. Doom: “Comics are so often seen as the province of white geeky nerds. But, more broadly, comics are  the literature of outcasts, of pariahs, of Jews, of gays, of blacks. It’s really no mistake that we saw ourselves in Doom, Magneto or Rogue.”

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”


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”


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


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 […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Bleeding Cool, Cap Blackard writes about the contested homeworld of Howard the Duck. “If you’ve seen the much maligned Howard the Duck film or read any Howard the Duck stories published since 1979, you’re probably familiar with the concept of Duckworld. You know, an alternate Earth where everyone is ducks and everything is duck-themed: Ducktor Strange, Bloomingducks, etc, etc. Sounds like a recipe for a finite barrel of bad jokes, right? It is, and it’s also not Howard’s real point of origin. During his landmark initial run, Howard’s creator Steve Gerber had the down-and-out duck hailing from a world of talking animals, but all that changed when Gerber was kicked off the book and Disney flashed a lawsuit. Now, after decades of backstory fumbling, Mark Waid has reinstated Howard’s point of origin in a one-shot issue of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (Thanks, Mark!)


    At The Village Voice, Jackson Connor writes about the making of The Warriors. Amid the refurbished boardwalk and laughter of children, it’s easy to forget that Coney Island was once a place where tourists did not venture. For much of the latter half of the twentieth century, street gangs dominated this neighborhood. They ran rampant through the area’s neglected housing projects, tearing along Surf and Neptune avenues toward West 8th Street. Those gangs, or gangs like them, and that incarnation of Coney Island would form the backbone of author Sol Yurick’s 1965 debut novel, The Warriors, about the young members of a street gang. More than a decade after the novel’s publication it would be optioned and, eventually, turned into a major motion picture of the same name.” (via @pulpcurry)


    Edith Garrud taught Suffragettes jiu-jitsu and formed Emmeline Pankhurst’s Bodyguard. “The first connection between the suffragettes and jiu-jitsu was made at a WSPU meeting. Garrud and her husband William, who ran a martial arts school in London’s Golden Square together, had been booked to attend. But William was ill, so she went alone. ‘Edith normally did the demonstrating, while William did the speaking,’ says Tony Wolf, writer of Suffrajitsu, a trilogy of graphic novels about this aspect of the suffragette movement. ‘But the story goes that the WSPU’s leader, Emmeline Pankhurst, encouraged Edith to do the talking for once, which she did.'”


    At Playboy, Jake Rossen writes about the story behind the filming and the restoration of Manos: The Hands of Fate. “For a long time no one wanted to see it unless it was accompanied by MST3K’s taunts. Then, in 2011, a collector of film prints uncovered the original negative of Manos and embarked on an inexplicable project to restore the film with all the white-glove attention archivists give to Hollywood classics. His efforts would incur the wrath of a mysterious man with a fake New Zealand accent named Rupert, as well as Joe Warren, Hal Warren’s embittered son, who intends to preserve the Manos legacy at all costs.” (Thanks, Ed!)


    At Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill!, Todd reviews the two part Ghanian director Ninja’s film, 2016. “2016 is a movie that I am obligated to review by virtue of my having long ago joined the internet chorus of people trumpeting on about its insane trailer—and this despite the fact that all of you with any interest in seeing it have most likely tracked it down already. In that case, you already know that it is essentially a no-budget remake of Independence Day set in the suburbs of Ghana. And if that sounds like a massive over-reach to you, you obviously know very little about Ghanaian action cinema, and even less about the films of maverick multi-hyphenate Ninja.”

    Read about part one, here, and part two, here.


    Look, it’s the trailer for “The Abominable Snowman” a new episode of classic Thunderbirds. Huffington Post UK has more: “It’s exactly half a century since we heard the ominous tones of voice actor Peter Dyneley bringing us the Thunderbirds intro ‘5 -4 – 3 – 2 -1 Thunderbirds are go’, and to celebrate, the team are producing three brand new original episodes, based on audio-only recordings made in 1966, which means fans will get to enjoy the original voices, with some 21st century gadgetry thrown in on screen.” (Thanks, Todd!)


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