Top London and New York-based independent publishers Merrell — well known for their art and graphic design books and more — have announced the forthcoming release of Gasoline, an entrancing graphic novel by cult illustrator and musician Dame Darcy describes as a gothic story with a timely ecological message.
Gasoline is set in a post-apocalyptic world where petrol has become more precious than gold, survivors have had to adapt to life without technology. The Armbusters, a family of orphaned witches, are among the few survivors of a fiery apocalypse that struck at the height of society’s corporate greed and corruption. Recycling and inventiveness – which had been overlooked in times of relentless materialism – have become essential to survival.
The Armbusters have created a utopian commune where they grow their own food, make their own clothes and exchange goods and services rather than use money. They own the only remaining working car, and their search for precious fuel for it takes them from the safety of the Karoi Utopian Survivalist Compound and pits them against the sinister nihilists who lurk in the decaying urban sprawl below.
“Gasoline is a gothic fairy tale of danger and suspense, heartbreak and redemption, and, above all, the perseverance of magic and love,” Merrell’s publicist explains. “It’s also a thought-provoking story about society’s changing priorities and about man’s relationship with the earth and its limited natural resources.
“Although nature had been coaxed into flourishing in Karoi, there had been centuries of damage before the founding of the community, and everyone was suffering the repercussions. The erratic weather was incited by the nuclear disaster of long ago or by the depletion of the ozone layer; the cause didn’t make a difference now, only the effect: storms.”
The magical characters are brought vividly to life by Dame Darcy’s detailed and intensely atmospheric illustrations, a graphic artist, cartoonist and musician based in Los Angeles and New York. Her comic book Meatcake has been published by Fantagraphics since 1993. Her other publications include Frightful Fairytales (2002), Dame Darcy’s Meatcake Compilation (2003) and The Illustrated Jane Eyre (2006). Darcy also sings and plays bass in the group Death by Doll.