Is is #5 already?! It is! Derek Van Gieson’s unstoppable Eel Mansions series has reached #5. Infamous cartoonist Janet Planet, plots to kill her golden goose, the negative orphans continue their pre-pubesent existentialisms, records store guys do their thing, government agents Bert and Chee Chee continue their adventures in hell, and Satanist Wuppeteer, Armistead Fowler’s past further unfolds. Plus, Milk City, Tales of Abstraction House, and Doomin!
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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?
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?”
Post York (by James Romberger + Crosby): Set in a post-apocalyptic New York City that thematically values humanitarianism over sheer survival, Post York seeks to re-examine man’s relationship to the natural world. This was the offering from Uncivilized Books that grabbed me by the throat and made me pay full attention to this bold new publishing house helmed by Tom Kaczynski.
Eel Mansions (by Derek Van Gieson): It’s like David Lynch on paper, flirtatious, mysterious, and dangerous. Van Gieson laces this burgeoning series with so much addictive critical bait, from cinema, to music, to cultural anthropology observations, that it quickly becomes an irresistible entryway to a never-ending conversation between the handful of people who can keep up with what Van Gieson is slinging with so much affection.
Read the rest, it’s a great list!
P.S. Check out some of our specials running until the end of the year.
Derek Van Gieson has been busy! He recently delivered the fourth issue of his well regarded series Eel Mansions! This issue gives us a bit of Armistead Fowler’s murky past, Lizard Lord Wilma is on the run from the Zapf, the proper mix of Iggy & The Stooges “Raw Power” is given its due, and more of Janet Planet, Doomin, Milk City, and Tales of Abstraction House. It’s another 40+ page monster! Is anybody else producing 40 page mini-comics on a such a regular basis? Available now for pre-order! Copies will start shipping at the beginning of December. Oh and don’t forget that Eel Mansions subscriptions are also available, don’t miss an issue!
It’s as if Van Gieson is asking us to let go of narrative sense-making, to temporarily suspend those cognitive devices that puts things together, and just enjoy the ride. The connections will come later — maybe — after we’ve had time to take in the strangeness of the images… and at times, they are like something out of a nightmare. In the meantime, we are supposed to have fun with the various story lines, interspersed with musically inspired interludes (monsters dancing to Jan and Lorraine’s “Number 33″), scenes from Janet’s Doomin comics, and the cubist-inspired story, “Dr. Tong’s Cabinet of Souls,” from Frank’s Tales of Abstraction House.
You can read the rest of the review here!
Eel Mansions is published by Tom Kaczynski’s Uncivilized Books and, unsurprisingly, the design is elegant. Each book has a screen-printed, silver ink cover and an earthy, textured paper for the inside.
The series also provided nice review of the content:
Van Gieson’s loose, gestural marks and high-contrast inking work equally well in portraying grotesque demons or the subtle facial expressions of one of the main characters Janet, the sardonic lush cartoonist. Janet’s dialog, along with many of the other characters, is witty and dry. This humor lightens the noir darkness and balances out the suspense and dizziness nicely.
Read the whole article here!
Nothing that I’ve read of Van Gieson’s previous comics – certainly not the WWII story he did for Mome – prepared me for this delightfully weird, silly and occasionally genuinely creepy comic. Like the worst ADD-addled student, the comic zips between storylines involving a former leader of a satanic cult reduced to selling cars, an alcoholic cartoonist who likes to buck cherished beliefs about 20th century music in her comics, a lizard woman hiding out in her hotel, a uber-green secret service agent and really I’m just scratching the surface here. I detect the strong influence of early Eightball, particularly Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, but as influences go that’s not a bad one to have. This is a deliciously goofy, occasionally deranged comic and I’m eager to see how Van Gieson will tie all these various threads together. Assuming he plans to that is.
From a graphic standpoint, Derek Van Gieson lays on the ink with a jackhammer; thematically, he’s dredging some infernal pits of the collective psyche for images, characters, and surreal situations that add up to a nightmarish skull-fuck of a book. […] It’s the sort of David Lynch-inspired phantasmagoria that Daniel Clowes flogged to great effect in Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron—but Van Gieson slathers on a retro-hip, record-store-shopping aesthetic that owes just as much to Clowes’ earlier, lesser masterpiece, Lloyd Llewellyn. That said, the contorted flow and retina-clouding grotesquerie of Eel Mansions are all Van Gieson’s own.
Read the rest here. This is also a good time to mention the upcoming release of Eel Mansions #3! It’ll debut at SPX and will ship soon after! Can’t keep up with Derek’s output? Check out these handy Eel Mansions subscriptions!
Eel Mansions 2 by Derek Van Gieson is coming! Here are the details:
Issue number two features the further noir happenings of semi-retired demonic cultist Armistead Fowler, Tales of Abstraction House, The Negative Orphans, Janet and Frank, Doomin’, Record Store Guys, Secret Agent Types, and the Lizard Lords.
PLUS we take things into 2nd gear with Buffalo Ruffs, The Death of Jazz, Anthony Hopkins vs. Dennis Hopper, Post Punk, Nub Nub’s Bar and Grill, along with a few random head scratchers.
The 2nd issue is even thicker than the first! If you have the first issue already (and if you don’t there’s a nice deal on the site if you would like to order both) you know how chock full of stuff it was (and if you don’t believe us, check out this intense roundtable sparked by the first issue!). We will be debuting at the Autoptic Festival in August. In the meantime, you can pre-order the book from us here.