Enough Astronaut Blood to Last the Winter – A New York artist's travelogue

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Enough Astronaut Blood to Last the Winter is a beautiful travelogue of stasis with three covers to choose from. It's a seemingly disconnected series of images, photographs, and prose-poems that serve as a diary of artist Derek Van Gieson's New York City experience. Collected in this manner by Fantagraphics Underground, though, they convey a story thick with the weight of being trapped in the expanse of a moment. Here, there is a visceral sense of confinement, and, through Van Gieson's art, there is both acceptance of the walls and a longing for change.

While not a graphic novel in the traditional sense, Enough Astronaut Blood to Last the Winter is still narrative. The reader understands mood more than movement, but even in this there is still a beginning, middle, and end. So many of Van Gieson's inky portraits have a surreal sense of disconnect, as much as they convey discontent. His subjects mostly look away, askance, from the viewer, or have their eyes covered completely by hair or by shadow. Many of the photographs are of his subjects caught in the midst of liminal moments, between this and that, indecisive and unsure of how to proceed. And his prose-poems further the sense of unbecoming that suffuses the book as a whole. They are often grounded in the experience of the day-to-day, yet twist out into hypnagogic landscapes and scenarios, as if the "now" only leads to the impossible and the reality of the minute is unfathomable as it stands.

In a way, Enough Astronaut Blood to Last the Winter also serves as a prequel for his wonderfully wild graphic novel Eel Mansions (published by Uncivilized Books). Moments and characters and tones stand here in their nascent beauty awaiting the exploration and heft that Van Gieson gives them in his later work.

What Enough Astronaut Blood to Last the Winter conveys best, though, is the immeasurable talent of Derek Van Gieson to communicate and reveal the emotional truth of the moment. This book is new-form autobiography in which we understand the creator by understanding his creations. It is a diary comic that takes the static moment of the individual experience and casts it into the undulations of the universal "us" to recognize as our own.

– Daniel Elkin

Enough Astronaut Blood to Last the Winter

by Derek Van Gieson

Fantagraphics Underground

2016, 264 pages, 8 x 10 inches (softcover)

$30 Buy a copy at Fantagraphics