It’s a tradition now. Every new issue of Derek Van Gieson’s Eel Mansions requires a critics round table dissecting the themes and pop cultural minutiae that snake (eel?) their way through each issue. Keith Silva and Daniel Elkin and company are up to issue 4 now. Here are a few things they say:
Eel Mansions is the closest thing to being inside another person’s head I can get, and I love it. I adore the six-panel pages, thematic establishing shots for what has come, what will come, what you wish might come. The oscillation between South Park-level expressive grotesquerie and faces like those I see every day. I can see why you guys find cannon-balling into the depths so rewarding, and like all good works you get out what you put in, but for me, Eel Mansions is an indie soap opera, too smart for cliffhangers or page-turn reveals, but nevertheless dependent on the well placed non-sequitur.
If you can’t pick ”the Mick Fleetwood statue” out of a Hellscape Bert and Chee Chee find themselves in than you don’t get it and won’t get it and that’s O.K.
Think of the Doomin P.S.A in this issue where the figure bemoans how Motown has been ruined for him(?) by corporate consumerism and over-exposure. The Doomin Dancers step in to reveal the beautiful belly underneath the behemoth. The gritty gems of R. Dean Taylor, the bat shit crazy drama of The Hit Pack, Chris Clark’s haunting “I Want To Go Back There Again” — the sound track to Eel Mansions is a love letter to the possibilities the individual creator can bring, even within the concrete dictates of corporate culture. The independent artist will always find a way. Van Gieson has all of his narrative layers infused with this realization, the heartbeat of creation, the procreant urge (again) of love.
Read the whole thing here.
Also, don’t forget that issue 5 was just released! We’re about to send copies to subscribers and pre-order customers. Order now!
The first review (starred!) of Sophie Yanow’s War of Streets and Houses was just published on Publishers Weekly. Here’s what they say:
Engaging and informative, the book covers a surprisingly broad range of subjects given its brevity. The black-and-white artwork may appear simple but each illustration conveys a wealth of emotional detail, from demonstrations to Yanow’s stripped-down view of herself. The book’s quiet deliberation becomes more impressive with each read; Yanow is an author/illustrator to watch.
Check out the rest of the review here.
The Comics Bulletin published another of their massive & epic Eel Mansions reviews. This time they focus on issue 3:
Eel Mansions is oozing with love — all the kinds of love there are. It’s thick with the act of creation — fecund one might say — for all acts of creation emanate from some kind of love — you know, what Lou Reed meant when he said, ”between thought and expression there lies a lifetime.” And this is a book that celebrates the creative act. From the cartoonist to the musician, from the family man to the Wuppeteer, everybody is or was Making It — ”make some room now, dig what you see” — taking the ephemera of experience and the hope of ideas and baking something new in the oven.
What is art but an expression of love?
And there’s a LOT more here. Now is a good time to check out Eel Mansions, all four current issues are on sale!
This is Infamous reviews David B.’s Incidents in the Night. It’s an interesting article, with some unusual, but not implausible comparisons: to Junji Itoi’s Uzumaki or Orson Welles’ The Third Man. Check out the whole review here.
Almost everyone who comes across Laura Park’s work is smitten! Camilla at Impossible Books is no exception:
I first came across Laura Park‘s work a couple of years ago, via a series of mightily heartbreaking comics about her cat just after he had passed away. I cried my eyes out. I also became a huge fan, and have been following her flickr and website since.
Read the rest of her micro-profile here.
We just made a brand new edition (3rd! pictured above & below) on Zak Sally’s Riso. It’s a good time to get one if you haven’t already!
Our recent collection of Jon Lewis’ True Swamp: Choose Your Poison gets a really nice review at the excellent Hazel & Wren site. Aaron King says:
By diverging from that traditional display of world-building, Lewis presents us with an organic world that’s still a work in progress. As opposed to the metaphorical glass castles of Tolkien or the beautifully intricate machine that is Larry Marder’s Beanworld, True Swamp feels like an expansive backyard to stomp through and build forts in. Reading through it, I want to turn over rocks and tear down branches, and I want to come back months later to see how the seasons affect it.
There much more, check it out.
Shea Hennum of This Is Infamous reviewed Dash Shaw’s New Jobs. Hennum dug the comic’s “loose, expressionistic inks and emotional density.”
Lineweight is something every image has, but most artists don’t consciously think about how the lineweight can affect an image on an emotional, as well as visceral, level. But Shaw does (or he’s accidentally this good), and the images and figures roll into each other. It’s difficult to tell if this is intentional, but it creates a very anxious page. The figures clash and collide into one another, pushing forward, trying to force an exit; it’s an almost semiotic agoraphobia, if that makes any sense.
You can check out the rest of the review here!
Thirteen Minutes reviewed Skyway Sleepless by Tom (Beta Testing the Apocalypse) Kaczynski recently:
Kaczynski’s lines are beautiful at this figure scale. They’re very expressive, but also quite realistic. When the armed Feds arrive, I had this rush of desire to see all-out action comic from Kaczynski, like a cop noir book, he may have a hidden knack for that genre(!).
The rest of the review is here. There are still a few copies left from the first edition (signed + numbered). Get ‘em here.
Just Indie Comics assembled a nice forecast of upcoming works for 2014 in a ‘best of’ style list. Sam Alden and our book (pictured above) is on it. AND, a pile of other books too… he is so prolific!
“After some online comics and self productions, Sam Alden, winner of last Ignatz Award for Promising New Talent, will debut for Uncivilized Books. The book [It Never Happened Again], scheduled for spring, will include Hawaii 1997 and a new unpublished story. This will probably be a crucial year for Alden, since he’ll publish also a collection of his online comic Haunter for Study Group, The Alpine Biologist for Floating World and Wicked Chicken Queen for Retrofit.”
Check out the rest of the list here.
Look what happens when you step away from the interwebs for a few hours! An enormous, giant, epic review (on The Comics Bulletin site) of Eel Mansions #2! It’s so big, it needed two writers! It’s really impossible to describe, so just go and read what Keith and Daniel have to say. Here’s just a tiny excerpt about the anxiety of influence:
Maybe this is the ‘uncertainty principle’ you mentioned, Elkin, the bit about: ‘uncertainty between what has come before and the possibilities of the road untraveled?’ Do these characters suffer from an anxiety of influences? Weaned on the tit of late 20th century pop culture, do they struggle to transcend these cultural touchstones that have made them who they are? And as creative folk, interpreters of our culture, mirror-holder-uppers, is this a problem? Because there’s always going to be a Jaque who asks: ”Do you even like Jazz?” or ”Does the funny animal genre make it easier for you to dispense your unpopular opinons?” and ”How long do you intend to run away?”
There is SO MUCH MORE! The whole thing is a really fun read. Check it out! And then, get your own copy here!