The Cultural Gutter

dangerous because it has a philosophy

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

The Book

Get the Gutter in Book Form with Original Infographic Illustrations by EJ Lee!

From ETC Press
Carol Borden, Ian Driscoll, Jim Munroe, James Schellenberg and Chris Szego. 2011

Science fiction, fantasy, comics, romance, genre movies and games all drain into the Cultural Gutter, a website dedicated to thoughtful articles about disreputable art—media and genres that are a little embarrassing. Irredeemable. Worthy of Note, but rolling like errant pennies back into the gutter. But the writers at the Cultural Gutter know that being canonized isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maligned genres and media allow for vital new ways of using old conventions and have more in common with high art, as itchy as that term makes us, than with respectable, middlebrow art. High art is often disdained as something a child could do, as mocking the audience, as degenerate, as trash. Gutter genres and media aren’t known for their subtlety. In fact, their obviousness and their barenakedness is why they’re destined to remain beneath the radar of serious culture — and why they continue to thrive. The Cultural Gutter is dangerous because we have a philosophy. We try to balance enthusiasm with clear-eyed, honest engagement with the material and with our readers. This book expands on our mission with 10 articles each from science fiction/fantasy editor James Schellenberg, comics editor and publisher Carol Borden, romance editor Chris Szego, screen editor Ian Driscoll and founding editor and former games editor Jim Munroe.

Available in print from Lulu and Amazon.com or in digital formats.

(Digital editions are not illlustrated)

 

Some kind words about The Cultural Gutter:

“Call it Pop Culture, call it Disposable Culture, call it Trash Culture. Whatever, it is OUR culture, and Carol Borden and company give it more than just geek love, they give it proper respect, in the form of considered opinion, deep analysis, and intelligent wit.”

John Crye
Creative Director, Newmarket Films

“I found the Cultural Gutter by accident, while I was trolling for information about an author who was successful, but not well-regarded by literary critics. I came back to the site regularly, because reading the Cultural Gutter is like attending a party where everyone is interesting, witty, and well-informed. I enjoy the articles both when I know nothing about the cultural artifact in question, and even more when I do.”

Lorna Toolis
Collection Head, Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy

“I rely on the Cultural Gutter’s dedication to getting down and dirty to sift through the refuse and debris of un-popular culture past, present and future on a regular basis.”

Colin Geddes
Midnight Madness and International Programmer, Toronto International Film Festival

 

The Cultural Gutter is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    The Bowery Boys Podcast dedicates an episode to New York City in the history of comic books. “In the 1890s a newspaper rivalry between William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer helped bring about the birth of the comic strip and, a few decades later, the comic book.  Today, comic book superheroes are bigger than ever — in blockbuster summer movies and television shows — and most of them still have an inseparable bond with New York City.”

    ~

    Pornokitsch’s One Comic Podcast looks at Red Sonja #10: “To everyone’s surprise, despite some of the covers and the character’s reputation, this isn’t the exploitative boobs’n’swordplay production it could have been. How did it achieve that? Listen and find out.”

    ~

    Los Angeles Magazine has a gallery of self-portraits of Bunny Yeager and a bit about the career of a model and photographer most famous for her pin-up photographs of Bettie Page. “Having dedicated her life to photography and modeling, not to mention publishing 30 books on the subject (one of which shares a name with the Gavlak exhibition), Yeager had an influence on a generation of artist-photographers including Diane Arbus and Cindy Sherman. Arbus even went as far to call her ‘The world’s greatest pin-up photographer.'” (Thanks, Stephanie!)

    ~

    Arch Daily has a gallery of images of remarkable sandcastles built by Calvin Seibert. Smithsonian Magazine has more, including a 2012 interview with Seibert about his work. (via @lordwoolamaloo)

    ~

    While playing Batman: Arkham Knight, Austin Walker wants to walk the streets of Gotham. “There are lots of different kinds of Batman fantasies–and I’m not looking to invalidate any of them–but throughout this four game series, the developers have largely given me the same one over and over. For once, I want a Batman game where I’m compelled to save the day not because of abstract threats, damsels in distress, or a desire for personal vengeance, but because the beauty of Gotham City compels me to protect it. Instead, I’m left for the fourth time with Batman and his playground.”

    ~

    At Die Die Danger Die Kill, Todd thinks about Karel Zeman’s Vynalez Zkasy. “Vynalez Zkasy (released in the U.S. as The Fabulous World of Jules Verne) may represent Czech FX pioneer Karel Zeman’s quest to emulate the style of 19th century fantasy illustration—to the end of presenting the future through a Victorian lens—at its most extreme. That does not mean that it is any less fascinating than, nor nearly enchanting as, films like The Stolen Airship and Cesta do Praveku/Journey to the Beginning of Time. It only means that there is a vague miasma of obsession that threads through the movie’s general air of wonderment.” (The Gutter’s own Keith has posted images from Karel Zeman’s work here).

    ~

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