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!
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!
Now is a good time to get into Eel Mansions, we have issues 1-4 on sale! Number 5 will debut at MoCCA and will ship in April soon after. Available now for pre-order!
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!
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!
Justin Giampaoli just posted his Best of 2013 list on Thirteen Minutes. We are proud to see two Uncivilized Books titles on the list:
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!
Derek Royal of Comics Alternative Podcast takes a look at Derek Van Gieson’s Eel Mansion #2, calling the book’s narrative shifts ‘perceptual and highly psychological‘:
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!
Printed Matters wrote a review of Derek Van Gieson’s series, Eel Mansions, #1-3. On the topic of the book’s printed aesthetics, they write:
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!
Chris Moutner came back from SPX and wrote about a few books that caught his attention. One of them was Derek Van Gieson’s Eel Mansions. Here’s what he had to say:
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.
Oh he plans it! See why this comic is gathering acclaim left and right: get the subscription or check out the individual issues.
Eel Mansions #2 got a nice review on The Onion AV Club:
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!