LAST JANUARY, Angoulême, the second largest comics festival in Europe, made a crazy misogynist blunder. Of 30 nominees for the Grand Prix prize for lifetime achievement in comics, they neglected to name even one woman. Angoulême’s CEO made things worse by asserting that “unfortunately, there are few women in the history of comics.” Online, people lost their minds—and roundups papered the face of the internet, proving him wrong while lauding the great women who penciled before. It was a good outcome from a bad thing. I remember breaking a pencil in my hand (no, that didn’t really happen) (CRUNCH) and vowing that if those dope dongles overlooked Dame Darcy’s Meat Cake Bible, which I knew Fantagraphics was releasing this year, I would fucking riot.
And it’s finally here! Weighing in at an impressive three pounds of hardcover teal, pink, and embossed gold, the Bible is exactly what it should be—a tome. It collects 15 years of flaxen-haired, violent protagonist Richard Dirt (who heavily resembles Darcy herself), her main accomplice Friend the Girl, Stregapez (she speaks by ejecting Pez tablets from her throat), murderous Effluvia the mermaid, and frequent punching-bag Wax Wolf—as well as other dark and strange creatures creeping from Darcy’s head. Meat Cake Bible is straight-up intimidating. Each page is crammed with Darcy’s spindly gothic drawings of psychosomatic pregnant sisters and doomed love affairs ending in inevitable violence and even more inevitable hauntings. The exhilarating surrealism of “Hungry is the Heart” from 1999’s issue nine—about a baby found in a swamp whose benefactor is crushed beneath a giant button—has always stuck with me. Only with this collection did I realize this story was actually a collaboration with Alan Moore. How’s THAT for history?
Like Beyoncé says, we make lemonade. When the great authorities of comics leave women out of their history, we listicle and fume. It feels like a victory, but I also worry such rants are only seen by people who already care about gender equality. That’s why it’s important to see Darcy’s groundbreaking comics wrapped up in a book so worthy of them. This tome cements it. Dame Darcy is an irrevocable part of comics history. I dare those French comics dads to ignore her now. Like any true independent spirit, Darcy is arriving, even if it is later than her due. The world is catching up.
by Dame Darcy