Welcome to part the second of Comics Bulletin’s coverage of Comic Arts Brooklyn 2014. To find out how our two provincials, Daniel Elkin and Keith Silva, got to this point in their story there’s this. If you’re immune to the crushing weight of continuity or if you’re slumming and fancy yourself a bit of a post-modernist, than by all means read on!
KEITH SILVA: For the last eighteen months, Daniel Elkin and I have been like a couple of Boswell’s to cartoonist Derek Van Gieson’s Johnson … something seems off about that, lemme give it another go …
Since March of 2013, Daniel Elkin and I have been writing about the series Eel Mansions by cartoonist Derek Van Gieson. (Less punchy, but O.K.) Between the two of us I bet we’ve written ten thousand words on this idiosyncratic comic about Satanists, dipsomaniac cartoonists and veiled (and not so veiled) references to English rock stars. Eel Mansions has become our Life of Johnson and we its Boswells.
Back in early September, back when the phrase, ‘Kansas City Royals play for MLB crown’ rang as arbitrary and somewhat of a pipe dream there was similar talk Eel Mansions: Volume One would debut at CAB. For the first time all six Eel Mansions mini-comics — the ‘lost’ Eel Mansions, a rumored-to- be one-pager called ‘Smile My Ass, Muthafucka’ which was surreptitiously printed in SuperValu holiday circulars in 2011 remains at large and, as yet, uncollected — would be available in one collection and with French flaps no less. It also includes an introduction by Messrs. Elkin and Silva.
So when Elkin floats this idea about meeting in Brooklyn to attend CAB there was a glimmer on the periphery we would also be there for the Eel book’s debut and the opportunity to meet Van Gieson. Now, publishing (from my limited experience) is both a stern master and a harsh mistress. In other words, shit undoubtedly happens. The Eel book wasn’t done in time for CAB 2014. It’s cool, good things come to those who wait, no fine wine … etcetera, etcetera. The book may have slipped away (see what I did there?) but Van Gieson didn’t, the ink made flesh.
To meet someone one admires is often to be either disappointed or shortchanged. A grip and grin at a public event like a book signing or con or even a random encounter with a person known to you only from a distance is odd; and I can’t imagine how it feels for the other guy or girl. So when I got to shake hands with Van Gieson, a creator I admire and someone I’ve corresponded with on everything from movies to music to life in general, it felt less like admiration and more like friendship.
Derek Van Gieson is tall, six one or so. He’s quiet, unassuming and Daddy-o cool. He’s a guy you want to hang out with and talk with. And so we did. Without a book to promote, Van Gieson suggested we retire to quieter environs with fewer comics and more alcohol. And so we did. I’m sure some sage has said, ‘never go with a cartoonist to a second location let alone a bar!’ Neither Elkin nor I heeded this advice.