Meatcake #14
By Dame Darcy
Published by Fantagraphics Books; $3.95 USD

Probably one of the most intensely personal and revelatory comics being published today is Dame Darcy's Meatcake. Darcy's work is off-kilter and gothic, and probably plays best to people at least a little like Darcy herself. A fascination with witches, fairies, magic and especially dolls probably isn't strictly necessary to appreciate Darcy's comics, but it certainly must help. Her depictions of the human face and form are paradoxically primitive and idealized, but her canny use of ink to define shape and frame her pages reveals a thoughtful artist in control of her art, strange as it often is.

Meatcake seems like a direct call for communication between artist and reader; a declaration of interests and intent, a message in a bottle washing up on the shore of a thousand goth chicks of all ages and genders. This issue's most intriguing piece is a fragment of a longer work called "Gasoline." In its six pages, we see Darcy use haunting imagery and striking metaphor to comment on the current state of the world. This brief glimpse at a work-in-progress is one of the most enticing things I've seen Darcy create, and I'm eager to see it reach fruition.

The two-page "The Ides of March" is a textbook example of how Darcy intertwines her real life with the strangeness of her imagination. The end result of this synergy is a window into her thinking process, as we see how she can transform the aggravatingly mundane into eerie, amusing fantasy. A brief cartoon essay on Cleopatra provides the issue's most arresting image: A full page devoted to the depiction of naked, squirming "mermaids" on the deck of a ship. This page resonates with the truly glorious cover art, depicting true mermaids in their natural environment, the glittering jewels of an open treasure chest outshone by the luminescent glory of three beautiful, otherworldly beings.

There's beauty and strangeness on every page of Meatcake, and indeed, in everything Darcy creates. For many, it's probably an acquired taste, but for the faithful, Meatcake #14 must be like coming home. Grade: 4/5

-- Alan David Doane

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