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‘The Gutters’ is the ultimate comics industry parody

‘The Gutters’ is the ultimate comics industry parody


The Gutters (Indefinite hiatus; 2010-2014)

Written by Ryan Sohmer
Art by various
Colored by Ed Ryzowski

First and foremost, The Gutters was a twice weekly webcomic that made fun of various aspects of the comics industry. It took the comics news of that week and spinned into something hilarious and self-contained with a rotating cast of artists, including ones you might know like Annie Wu (Hawkeye), Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan), Joe Eisma (Morning Glories), Nick Bradshaw (Wolverine and the X-Men), and even comics legend Neal Adams, who pencilled a heartfelt tribute to the late Joe Kubert in 2012. The humor of The Gutters is highly topical. However, in the tradition of the best MAD Magazine strips or SNL sketches, it can act as a nice time capsule to 2010 when people were arguing whether Steve Rogers or Bucky Barnes (or Clint Barton) should be Captain America, or 2012 when the circle of snark around Before Watchmen and if it was doing irreparable damage to comics was going on.

The Gutters pokes fun at comics, but it also loves them beginning with its design. Each update of The Gutters is a full comics page likewatchbabies you would find in a monthly release. Ed Ryzowski also provides vibrant digital colors, and the art style is versatile depending on the subject matter from advertising illustrator (and The Gutters) mainstay Richard Clark’s full page splash parodies of things like AMC’s Comic Book Men or Wolverine’s manner of dying to Chris Elioupolos’ (Hawkeye) adorable strip of  baby Brian Michael Bendis destroying the Ultimate Universe in Cataclysm then running off to play with his Miles Morales action figure. Clark is one of my personal favorite The Gutters’ artists with his ability to mimic and homage different art styles while striking to the core of stupidity in comics fans, companies, and occasionally creators. The comic has also had a series of running gags, like The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman running around and saying his last name in the most random places.

But The Gutters‘ strips aren’t all about comics news. Occasionally, there will be an update about something general and ridiculous in the lives of superheroes, Transformers etc. For example, there was a comic from this year which started out as a mildly funny parody of the Batman inner monologue used by Frank Miller and his successors (Even Scott Snyder. Sorry, fanboy.), and then took an incredibly dirty and social media-centric twist courtesy of The Joker. (It also didn’t hurt that the artist Ian Navarro’s style was incredibly similar to Greg Capullo’s art with a touch of MAD.) And speaking of MADThe Gutters has a working caricaturist in its bullpen, Christian Meesey. His designs for characters like Internet troll Dr. Doom, Amazon exec Jeff Bezos (who bought Comixology this year), and even Admiral Ackbar provoke a chuckle before one reads the comic.

Along with guest artists, The Gutters has had a couple of high profile guest writers. In a response to the classic Wally Wood 22 Panels that Always Work, Mark Waid wrote a comic titled “Just Four” about four panels, which never work, including one with copious word balloons (I wonder if Bendis has read this.), and people watching TV screens in shops to get news. Even in Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller just showed the TV screen. Gail Simone, who came to comics prominence from her website Women in Refrigerators and her humorous column on Comic Book Resources, also wrote a strip taking a shot at Internet trolls and sexist comic book fans in the format of an old Charles Atlas ad. The Gutters is a gut-busting parody of all that’s been right and wrong in the comics industry for the past four years and is a fun, quick read. The comic concluded last week in a six part “crossover” in which readers will never look at Joe Quesada, Jim Lee, or Dan DiDio in the same way, but like Jean Grey, Bucky Barnes, Jason Todd, or insert Marvel/DC character here, it could very well return to the Internet one day.