Monday, February 22, 2010

Interview with Artist and Comic Book Author Dame Darcy

Dame Darcy - "Many Hands" by Marcelle DuJour

Dame Darcy is known worldwide as an illustrator, writer, fine artist, musician, filmmaker and animator. She had the pleasure to do illustrations for writers Alan Moore (DC comics), Poppy Z. Brite, Trina Robbins (Women In Comics), and fashion designers Anna Sui (NYC), Jared Gold (LA), CWC, and Coi Girl Magic (Tokyo) among others.

Her TV series, Turn Of the Century, won many awards for the movies and animations made in collaboration with Lisa Hammer and additional filmmakers and is currently being distributed.

Dame Darcy is presently on her 17th issue (and counting) of Meat Cake, her long standing comic book title published by Fantagraphics. She has also released several graphic novels, including Frightful Fairytales (published by Ten Speed Press 2002), Dame Darcy’s Meat Cake Compilation (Fantagraphics Books 2003), The Illustrated Jane Eyre (Putnam Penguin USA 2006),  Dollerium Book and DVD (Presspop, Tokyo 2007) and Comic Book Tattoo, a comic compilation illustrating the songs of Tori Amos (Image Comics 2008) among other compilations.

Gasoline the graphic novel has an accompanying music release by her current band Death By Doll on Emperor Penguin Records entitled Gasoline. Dame Darcy is also adapting Gasoline into a screenplay. Her next graphic novel projects are Hand Book for Hot Witches and The Excorsisters. She’s also developing an online game based on her illustrations.  Her fine art is currently represented by Sloan Fine Art in New York City.

Fatally Yours: When did you become interested in art?

Dame Darcy: I originally started drawing/writing books (sequential art) at the age of 2. My Dad is an artist, so is my uncle, brother, and a lot of my family. We are related to John Wilkes Booth and many of the guys in my family look like him (like a handsome villain) I contribute a lot of my family’s talent and good looks to Booth but also the craziness. I loved the books my family had on Klimt and Rossetti and the other pre-Raphaelites, Dada, (my first word was dada) Victoriana, and Faeiry tales Greek myths and legends.

They also had a lot of feminist literature and contemporary poetry books and faeiry rock music. My favorite bands that I consider my children’s albums that influenced my psychedelic subconscious are that song by the Stones about the girl with rainbow hair, Donovan’s A Gift From a Flower to a Garden, The Kinks song “Victoria,” The Zombies, Tiny Tim’s album God Bless Tiny Tim, The Beatles’ White Album and bluegrass classics like Doc Watson, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, etc.

My dad plays banjo and taught me when I was 10 how to play and at 5 how to play autoharp. We used to play shows together and he was in a band then too.

We lived in Idaho. Not a very artistic place.

Fatally Yours: What kind of films, books and comics did you read growing up that influenced and continue to influence your work?

Dame Darcy: I loved Alice in Wonderland and the Oz books series. Pippi Longstocking (all the books and the movies), I loved Tales From the Crypt and Edward Gorey. I liked the show Night FlightCreature Feature would show lots of fun stuff on Friday nights. I kind of thought my family was like the Addams Family and that I would grow up to have an Addams Family of my own which I currently always have incarnations of.

The movies that made me think I would grow up and have a place in the world are Time Bandits, Neverending Story, BeetlejuiceSplash, Twilight Zone The Movie, Carrie (which was like my high school experience), Flash Gordon, Eraserhead, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the movie Popeye, Watership Down, The Last Unicorn was so much like my life and it is STILL like my life. The Last Unicorn is wandering around with that depressing Cat Stevens song or whatever it is searching for her unicorn sisters while the other characters in the movie fuck with her. Finally a curse is put on her, she becomes human (i.e. The fantasies of childhood are broken and you realize you will have to take on all the human crap of being a woman) and when the unicorn turns into a girl, I looked JUST LIKE the girl, it was sick. Then finally she gets to the ocean and joins her other unicorn sisters who come out of the ocean in a wave and gallop together free. I moved to the coast, near the ocean, like San Francisco and NYC and met the other freaks.

Movies that have influenced me as an adult are Barry Lyndon by Kubrick, Terry Gilliam, anything by Todd Haynes. Michel Gondry does good contemporary work, Spike Jonze does good movies as well. I love those really Dada Betty Boop cartoons from the 20′s that Cab Calloway sings on, Night Of The Hunter where Lillian Gish plays an old Christian lady battling a demented preacher with a shotgun while she sings a hymn in harmony with him. This movie stars a doll. Beauty and The Beast by Cocteau, The Blue Angel with Marlene Deitchrich is also a great cabaret film and is sort of like the movie Freaks I just realized. The Devils by Ken Russell 1971, an account of the apparent demoniacal possession of the 17th-century nuns of Louden, climaxing in the burning of their priest as a sorcerer. There is the cutest cabaret scene in it where a gorgeous gay boy plays the Venus Di Milo. This is also like the 1971 release of Wicker Man. A lot of the best movies came out in 1971. Dark and psychedelic.

I think Interview with a Vampire is the most hilarious movie in the planet! Just a laugh riot all the way through. Speaking of vampire movies, Valerie and her Week of Wonders is THE BEST! Salem’s Lot is the scariest. Herzog does a great Dracula too with Klaus Nomi (he is also the star of a documentary called My Best Fiend) and the one where William Defoe plays Dracula is awesome, Shadow of the Vampire. These two were obviously based on the original movie Nosferatu. And lest we not forget The Hunger. That movie I clung to like a life raft when I was a teen in Idaho. I want to see Let The Right One In but have not yet.

I always draw the endless pages and commission designs while watching movies, and crafting.  I watched Gone with the Wind (which is a costume drama AND an apocalyptic movie all in one) over and over for a month one time. I just didn’t care to see anything else. The song that the slave men sing in that movie as so poignant and creepy it sends chills up my spine.

Fatally Yours: What sparked your interest in creating your comic book, Meat Cake?

Dame Darcy: I began self publishing Meat Cake when I was 17. It was picked up by Fantagraphics in 1991 when I was 19 and Fantagraphics is releasing a graphic novel compilation of Meat Cake with stories up to issue 10 I think. I am currently on issue 18 and am reissuing out of print Meat Cake issues as part of my new self publishing company Dame Darcy Publishing Ink, found at Dame Anyone can get them directly from me on Etsy:

I had this dream place, a little sea coastal town called Sobriety Straight where freaks lived together. A mermaid that thought death was funny and liked to flirt with and torture men. Hindrance (a hindrance to Perfidia) and Perfidia (meaning two-faced), a Siamese twin that was always fighting with itself (I am a Gemini on the cusp of cancer, need I say more). Richard Dirt, named for the pen name I once considered when I thought I would create an alter ego like George Sand the lady Victorian writer did, but instead I created a comic book alter ego which I am really glad I did not make my pen name Richard Dirt, that is sooooo confusing! Strega Pez is a hard working gal who is also an orphan, when she was born she came from her mother’s throat, thus killing her, and was cursed by only being able to talk through her throat on Pez. I invented this character because I felt like I always had to work mundane jobs like that before I became a freelance artist. Later Strega Pez becomes a world renowned scientist and invents invisible strong string made from goat’s milk and spider webs and gets out of poverty. Friend the Girl is inspired by Louise Brooks and is a good friend, she has a boyfriend named Friend the Boy. Wax Wolf is a cad zombie werewolf made from real wolf hair and wax who is the undead so is killed thousands of times in different ways and always comes back.Granny was once a flapper mobster moll who puts poison in her cookies out of habit. Scampi the Selfish Shellfish is Richard’s pet. And then there’s the sundry pirates and hot sailor lads from the port town.

Fatally Yours: Besides being well-known for Meat Cake, you also make dolls, create music, design clothes, create fine art, make graphic novels, are a filmmaker and are a cartoonist. How and why do you find yourself pursuing so many different avenues of creativity?

Dame Darcy: I always wanted to make feature films, which combine music, animation, film and are themselves fine art. So until I get my big break I make everything separately and keep pitching my feature film concepts which are based on graphic novels.

Fatally Yours: How would you describe your art and artistic style?

Dame Darcy: Like a demented tortured Gypsy that wants to escape this place and time into a faeiry fantasy world near Atlantis. Place beyond place time out of time.

Fatally Yours: Your art contains many Victorian motifs. What attracts you to the Victorian period? Do you ever find yourself gravitating to other eras?

Dame Darcy: Did you know that glass (like glass windows) is always in a permanent liquid form? This is why the stained glass of the Byzantine churches have some images where the colors have melted from one frame into the next. And also why the cut glass windows in the craftsman house I grew up in were warped from the windows slowly melting over 100 years. It’s always this way in old houses.

The Victorian era is a romantic and tragic place at the dawn of industrialization. Mother earth had not been completely slaughtered yet then. Women were oppressed but there was a chivalry to it all too. As a kid I had nostalgic longings and still do for the smell of Victorian cotton curtains blowing in the half open window of an attic room while it’s raining outside on the roses and ivy that have grown to cover the dirty, spider webbed glass that is slightly warbled from the glass slowing melting over time.

In my graphic novel Gasoline the Witch family lives in a post apocalyptic utopia which is in a simultaneously existing time /space mirroring this one. I am writing a new one called Gold Leaf about how I channeled my past life as a Druid in 500 AD. It is called Gold Leaf because that what the illuminated letterers of the time used, and will be drawn as if stained glass windows were panels of a comic book (which is essentially what they are). Other than that I am currently in the process of publishing my latest graphic novel, The Hand Book For Hot Witches. It is modern, but touches a lot on ancient magic lore and is basically a practical guide to magic of all lineages.

Fatally Yours: When you first started out, did you encounter any gender bias as a woman in a mostly male-dominated world of comic books and graphic novels? Or were people pretty open to your ideas, regardless of your gender? Do you find your gender makes a difference in how people view you nowadays?

Dame Darcy: Again, I feel like The Last Unicorn because I am well aware that the comic book world and feature film and animation world is a boys’ club. In a way it’s good to be different and naturally stand out from the crowd, but at the same time my people are the gothic Lolita fashion and weirdo darkwave music scene which doesn’t necessarily know or care about comix. To fix this problem and combine all of it I am creating a special Doll Game which will be seen soon on Dame and whose details I can not disclose yet.

Fatally Yours: Do you feel that your art has a feminist subtext? Please explain.

Dame Darcy: I am a hardcore feminist so I wrote The Hand Book For Hot Witches, here’s what it’s about…. I also created the EZ Bake Coven which I encourage everyone to join and post and enact on the forum and in real life…again here’s the Manifesto for that too…I made these things because WE NEED THEM!

Hand Book For Hot Witches: Combine graphic novel with a “how to” guide, add a dash of cook book and a fairy sprinkle of witch spell, wrap it all up with women’s history and you have the Hand Book For Hot Witches. This is a girl’s guide to the apocalypse. This book addresses the unique needs women have, and covers heavy issues like sustainable living once water, heat, and food have become scarce. It harkens back to an ancient time when women lead as the herbalist healers, nurturers and disciplinarians of the community. But also looks to the future and gives advice on how to handle crisis in a time of global extremes and addresses mood fluctuations and how to handle inner turmoil.

Hand Book For Hot Witches addresses our need for self defense. It celebrates and acknowledges our inherent power of creativity, intuitiveness, and every female’s role as a conduit to the spirit realm.

This guide book is for girl scouts grown up and facing the realities of surviving in the jungle of today’s political society with complex ecological implications. And  gives them simple answers through philosophy, skill, crafts and song to deal with these issues one step at a time through comics, fully illustrated step by step how to’s, in depth text with spot illustrations and resource guide.

Most of women’s history is blotted out from the pages of society. Hand Book For Hot Witches recognizes and profiles “witches” who stood out of the crowd changed the world and fought for not just the rights of women but for humanity and for justice. This book will help their legacy live on.

There are many “how to” books, and post petroleum guides of how to live sustainably. The Hand Book For Hot Witches stands out from the rest because it has a unique view that addresses the needs of women. Although it brings up topics that at some times are hard to face, the visual style and literary sense of humor make these overwhelming concepts and problems easier to handle and thus easier to solve.

This book is here to inspire individuals to make a change and inform them how to do it. It’s also here to empathize with the current situation the world is in and does not ignore the symbiotic relationship that women have to Mother Nature. Respecting the earth is respecting womankind, and respecting yourself.

The information and insight within is something daughters, mothers, and grandmothers can all relate to, connect with, and remember. To proactively create a future so all girls can inherit a legacy.

The E Z Bake Coven has been going for 10 years now, and now has an exciting new look. We are creating a forum to profile artists and a place for ladies (and the men who worship the Goddess) to live chat, video blog, and even create their own local covens virtually and in reality. It is located in the EZ Bake Coven section of Dame

Fatally Yours: What elements do female artists offer that differ from males’ perspectives?

Dame Darcy: The sense of entitlement that all women, the earth, animals and all plant life is here to serve “man” was invented by Christian white guys a while ago and just because it’s been the mainstream way of thinking for a long time, does not now nor never was right.

Jocks think this way and to this I say “FROCKS NOT JOCKS” they do not think or consider the perspective of women or other races and to this I say “I AM THE CRACKER ATTACKER” and women are bitches who are not feminist and do not see other ladies as their sisters. So they I say “WITCHES NOT BITCHES”.

Fatally Yours: What women in your industry do you admire and why?

Dame Darcy: Natasha Rambova, [who] was born Winifred “Winnie” Kimball Shaughnessy on January 19, 1897. [She] grew up to not only to be the creatrix of Hollywood [to] its biggest and most influential star Rudy Valentino, but also is the inventor of the Art Deco style. She was a costume and set designer, artistic director, screenwriter, producer, actress, fashion designer, and was also influenced by German Expressionism. She earned more than her husband Valentino, who had notoriously bad contract deals and had a career due to her styling and marketing of him. Their break up and his death ensued when the big money guys at the studios wanted to take her influence away. She designed for a film Nazimova wrote titled, A Doll’s House. Rambova’s designs for the movie Salome were seen as extremely daring and risqué. She based them off drawings by Aubrey Beardsley for Oscar Wilde’s version. Plus look up her photo she is the hottest and most beautiful witch ever. Truly amazing! Also the German animatoress Lotte Reiniger and her film Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (1926), the first feature-length silhouette animation. Really ladies, I’m not kidding look this up and watch it somehow, it will change your life.

Fatally Yours: What advice would you give women who want to pursue a career in art?


When you have a big or unusual goal you may be daunted by trying and failing a million times, but just keep throwing your work out into the public and researching who to talk and pitch your ideas to /show your art. And keep going. The way big ideas get made into reality is by trying time and time again, each try is one try closer to manifesting your goal. No one manifests anything who didn’t try and your convictions will make all obstacles fall away of their own accord.

So many people when they ask, “What do you do?” they mean, “What do you do to make money?” They are trying to judge who you are by what you do to make an income. To which some people take offense if their passion does not make them money and does not align with their work.

If you choose to favor your passions above and beyond all else and stay committed, the life of your choosing will manifest.  Daily responsibilities and expectations arise all around you.

Fatally Yours: What are your favorite dark works of art, horror books, comics, etc.?

Dame Darcy: I love Suhiro Maruo , a Japanese graphic novelist who does stories about a dark circus and vampires. The Strange Tale of Panorama Island is his latest book. Sandman series by Neil Gaiman was always a beautiful but sad story and From Hell about Jack the Ripper written by Alan Moore has an extremely enlightening section in the back pages about the dark occult underbelly that London’s streets and politics are based on. His latest book Promethia has very enlightening occult information. I have always admired Ralph Steadman’s drawing style and was inspired by Sue Coe in my early days. I also as previously mentioned Charles Addams’ Addams Family comics and Edward Gorey’s comics as a kid. Egon Sheile illustrations/paintings look so contemporary and Francis Bacon is a beautiful sicko and just had an amazing exhibit at the Met in NYC last summer. Hans Bellmer (the one who did those weird sculptures of dolls) also did illustrations which were amazing as well. Aubrey Beardsley of course. All Art Nouveau.

Fatally Yours: Who are your current favorite artists?

Dame Darcy: Camille Rose Garcia, Joe Coleman, Joanne [Burke] of Chromium Dumb Belle is a genius! Kime Buzelli. Marcelle DuZama , Matthew Barney , Cindy Sherman, I love Grandma Moses (but she’s not current) Christy Kane, Jared Gold, Adam Dugas, Machiene Dazzle, Madeline Von Forrester and so much more but I’m going crazy.

Fatally Yours: If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a comic book or graphic novel, who would it be and why?

Dame Darcy: O M G ! It would be to illustrate Alice in Wonderland. Also, I LOVE Hunter S. Thompson, Urusala K. Leguinn and Philip K. Dick. I would love to turn any of their books into graphic novels.

Fatally Yours: Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to talk about?

Dame Darcy: I already mentioned myself publishing company Dame Darcy Publishing Ink, The E Z Bake Coven, my darkwave band Death By Doll’s upcoming album Goth As Fuck, Meat Cake comic book series, Gasoline graphic novel,  Hand Book For Hot WitchesTurn Of The Century DVD of my TV show was just re-released. All my current and past multimedia projects and current shows and events can be seen at Dame and can be acquired at my Etsy store which is the arts/crafts section on

Fatally Yours: What goals do you hope to accomplish in 2010?

Dame Darcy: To live in a state of enlightened tranquility. To learn Spanish, to learn how to sail, to find my home, or at least get an idea of where it is, to have my feature film go into preproduction, to get the biggest publishing deal possible for Hand Book For Hot Witches, to master and release Death By Doll’s new album, to start my doll game , to make the EZ Bake Coven Forum the best it can be, to get a licensing deal for my designs, and to make my 84 year old doll Isabelle finally happy so she can stop bitching at me.

Fatally Yours: Where can people find more info on you?

Dame Darcy: For everything me go to:

And I also want to thank my business partner and Gemini twin Vincent D. Dominion. He is an artist as well and you can check him out at

Thank you for everything and best wishes and magic blessings to you!

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