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Eric Eric Eric Eric

Eric back

Tom Manning

Date Released: Expected 28-Nov-18


Preview by Publisher Blurb

"Theeeeeere you are. Well, hello... I'm Carmelita."
"I... uh... I'm Phil."
"Phil, huh? Well, Phil, what brings you to the Hollywood Hawaiian?"
"I gotta...lay low, you know. I don't think I should... leave."
"Heaven help the one who leaves."
"There's some people looking for me. And... um... OWLS. I, uh..."
"HEY, don't worry. I get it. I come here for the piña coladas, myself."
"I'm a normal guy..."
"Hey... we're all normal and we want our freedom, right?"
"E-excuse me?"
"But you know, except in dreams? You'll never really be free."
"Don't the sun look angry at me? I... I gotta go."
"Well, then... take care, Phil. Or was that Bill?"
"Oh... it's... uh Phil. Phil.

'Phil' really did need to go. And he really isn't a normal guy. Not least because his name is actually Eric...

Eric is... confused or drug-damaged or both. Both, definitely. Unfortunately for him, or possibly fortunately for him, the only way he can see to get out of his current predicament is get right out of it. So he decides to call Carloan Eddie. Not about a car loan, clearly. No, he wants to travel Route 87 and he'll need fifty gallons of gas to get to where he wants to go. Route 87 isn't a road, clearly. Nor is fifty gallons a quantity of gasoline, either. Meanwhile, Eddie tells Phil, I mean Eric, that Trout needs to get a hold of him. Now, Trout is a real person, not a fish, and that really is his name. The owls, though... those folk no one is particularly sure about. Not yet, anyway.

Confused? Don't worry, that's entirely the point, and we've barely got started. Eric was a 'pioneer of beach bum culture and psychedelic surf rock' from the early sixties. He was big for a while, huge in fact, before he burnt out spectacularly. Now he's ready for a comeback. And another gigantic breakdown, seemingly...

Our story doesn't actually open with Eric. It opens with a peculiar magic ritual performed by cloaked figures with owl masks in front of an audience of besuited, wealthy-looking capitalist types in the woods. Their ritual does not go entirely according to plan... It goes to someone's plan, though.

Still confused? Don't worry, that's really is entirely the point, and trust me, we've barely got started...

So after reading the opening couple of chapters I was thinking ah-huh, Bohemian Grove dialled up a notch, yep, got that, coupled with a Brian Wilson-esque figure in Eric. I understand what this is. Then it all started getting really, really strange in a Grant Morrison's INVISIBLES fashion. For Eric is about to find himself embroiled in a reality shifting conflict. Or is just completely off his nut? Or both? Possibly both... Definitely both.

As the scenery keeps shifting, as well as the proverbial ground beneath Eric's feet, plus just plain old real honest to goodness reality itself, you'll find yourself drawn into a labyrinthine rabbit hole of lunacy. There is an epic conflict afoot, I'll give you that much to go on. As for Eric's chosen role in it, not chosen by him that is, well, that will take some time and space to unfold it. What it will reveal when it does is anyone's guess...

One of the most deliberately complicated and fabulously convoluted works I've ever read. Eric's role as the damaged idiot savant, the unconscious potential saviour, and the mental tortures he is put through and puts himself through, makes for surprisingly emotional reading. He is the very definition of a complex character. With is a shame for him because he could really do with a simple life just to be able to survive. He's not going to get it.

It's wonderful to see self-publishing on this epic scope with such excellent production values. If you didn't know this 392-page walk on the weird side(s) wasn't published by the likes of Fantagraphics you'd have no idea. The intense mind-frazzling orange and white cover featuring Eric's face, with his deeply haunted eyes staring out at you, is part entreaty to / part warning against opening this up and being dragged into something completely beyond your rational comprehension.

Inside, by complete contrast, the art style is dark, by which I mean its black and grey with some white elements, frequently the foreground characters or the lettering, which provides a stark, quite deliberate almost jarring effect in addition to depth. Combined with a certain looseness of line, heavy inking and the odd dash of faux Letratone for added texture, it is quite its own beast stylistically. The dense shadow only adds to the obtuse sense of it all. You feel like the next plot twist or tangle could be lurking in practically every panel. Which it frequently is... No wonder poor old Eric doesn't know what to make of it all... I guess he's going to have to put that comeback on hold. The breakdown... not so much.
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