Enough Astronaut Blood To Last The Wintermakes for a strange bit of business. First, it’s an odds-and-sods assortment of illustration, microfiction, and photography chronicling Derek Van Gieson’s salad days in New York City. Second, who in the hell is Van Gieson? And last, how does a little known artist rate the sort of pseudo-retrospective reserved for more long-lived, let alone well-known, artists?
Let’s take the second part first.
Now relocated to his home state of Minnesota, Van Gieson has previously published only one title: Eel Mansions. Originally released as a series of six minicomics (Uncivilized Books, starting in 2012, collected in 2015), Eel Mansionsfollows an ex-military, ex-Satanist, ex-children’s-variety-show auteur named Armistead Fowler and a put-upon indie cartoonist named Janet Planet, as each navigates their own self-made hells. The series also includes seemingly non-sequitur strips like “The Negative Orphans”, “The Record Store Guys”, and Janet’s own “Milk City Comics”. To call Eel Mansions eccentric or eclectic leaves out both its charm and its downright weirdness. Think A Velvet Glove Cast in Iron if Daniel Clowes made references to ’80s synth rock and baroque Brit pop and added more dancing. As a cartoonist, Van Gieson is singular to a fault, an artist who has never met a page he has not wanted to dribble, slather, and soak in ink. His chops as a writer rest in a narrow band of offbeat humor, record-shop bravado, and self-awareness that, at times, gives a reader the sense it’s all a put-on, a rock-and-roll swindle.
This is a very nice piece about a collaboration between The Center for Cartoon Studies and the White River Junction VA Medical Center.
Vice-Presidential candidate Mike Pence was once a cartoonist!
And lastly, an ode to Enid Coleslaw’s style.