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June 19, 2010: I've launched a new version of this website as a Wordpress blog. This version won't be updated anymore.
If you don't see the images of a review, it means that I've transferred it to the new site.
   
 
The new collection.

The Desert Peach


An ongoing series, A Fine Line Press, 1987-.
More about issue #31, #32, Afterdead #1 and #1.2. The series is now available online for free.

Seven Peaches, a collection of the first seven issues, has been published in August 2002. Most of the issues included are sold-out, so this is a great opportunity to discover the series.
A short story was also published in Gay Comics #16.
Order the Seven Peaches book from
or from Amazon.

Category: historical, humor.

Author(s): Donna Barr.
Website: http://www.stinz.com.
The first issue.
The Peach in Gay Comix.

History is written by the victors. This is not a very novel idea, but it remains true to this day. One of the most obvious example is World War II, which has spawned a vast number of films, books, etc showing German people at their worst and, most of the time, making no difference between those who believed in the Nazi credo and the rest of the German people. Comics, and superhero comics in particular, haven't fared better than other media in that regard.

Three early drawings... ... for t-shirts... ... which give a small idea why I love the character.

That is one of the reasons why The Desert Peach is such an original work. Most of the stories take place during WWII, in North Africa, among German soldiers posted there under the command of Colonel Pfirsich Rommel, the brother of Edwin Rommel, the famous Desert Fox. You didn't know Rommel had a brother named Pfirsich? Don't worry, only Donna Barr knew. And she made him the star of his own comic.
Pfirsich is probably one of the most interesting character in comics. He's gay and out, he has exquisite tastes and manners, and a lot of people think he's just a pretty head more obsessed with his lover, the dashing pilot Rosen Kavalier, than with the obligations of his function. Well, his soldiers know better. He might like peach-colored scarves (dont tell him it's pink, 'cause pink is tacky), but he can fight for their safe being, and the strength of his will is only matched by his attachment to basic human values which seem to be lost to most people in this time of war.
Throughout the whole series, a balance is maintained between the depiction of life during that period and the antics of the soldiers (the 469th halftrack, support and gravedigging battalion is full of people considered as unfit for battle by the army), a rather delicate balance which is a credit to the talent of Donna Barr for writing believable characters. She never uses them as a soapbox, and even the less nice ones are given a chance to show the complexity of their temperament.
Another very interesting aspect is the time span of the series. A number of stories take place either before or after the war, and we get to see Pfirsich and Rosen still living together in the 70's. We learn what happened to some of the soldiers from the 469th battalion, and it is not a pretty sight.

From issue #1.Donna Barr's art has evolved a lot over the 15 years she's been working on this series. From very "clean" figures and quite realistic backgrounds, it has slowly mutated into dense, rather manic lines which are perfectly suited to the varied atmospheres of the stories. Some people, more accustomed to mainstream art, might find it confusing at first, but any effort provided to get into the art will be rewarded handsomely. Donna Barr puts lots of little things in the background, like faces of people reacting to the events unfolding, and that is another proof of her love of her work.

German soldiers as real people, with their qualities and their shortcomings. What a great idea. If only all fiction tried to be as honest and open-minded as The Desert Peach, I'm naive enough to think the world would be a better place. After all, fiction shapes our dreams and aspirations. And we could all do worse than let ourselves dream of having tea in the North African desert with a man as utterly charming as Pfirsich Rommel.

From issue #28.
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