The Desert Peach by Donna Barr
Donna Barr shows herself to be one of the heralds of this forthcoming age — doing her comic book in such a way as to satisfy her own insight, awareness, and inspiration.
–Dave Sim (Cerebus)
On the face of it, the Peach is set up to offend just about everyone, and in the end it’s not offensive at all.
–The Comics Journal
Equal parts comedy and drama, The Desert Peach is a sweeping World War II saga. Set in Africa during the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, the series stars Pfirsich Rommel, the fictional gay younger brother of Erwin Rommel, The Desert Fox.
Donna Barr has been writing and illustrating the Desert Peach since 1988. 32 issues were published through myriad publishers, ending with the Peach’s passing and voyage to the afterlife. It has since resumed as a daily webcomic, AFTERDEAD, where Barr cannibalized all her different comic series into one, giving her characters all the same elaborately realized afterlife.
Barr was inspired to create the character while working in the file office of the University of Washington, which was being painted a “horrible half-pink, half-tan color.” Searching for a color name, she stumbled upon “desert peach”, and was immediately inspired by the pun upon “The Desert Fox,” the name given to Field Marshal Erwin Rommel during World War II . According to his biographers, Erwin Rommel had a youngest brother, named Manfred, who died in infancy—so Barr developed a personality whom the universe had prematurely discarded.
This is…this is…what makes you draw things like this? –Robert Crumb
What makes you draw headless women with big tits? –Donna Barr
The art in Desert Peach is some of the best that independent comics from the 80’s and early 90’s ever offered. Donna manages an elegant linework with a lithographic sense of light and dark. Every panel is packed with detail and the final result is akin to an Aubrey Beardsley comic book!
The Peach begins as a mostly humorous affair, but the weight of the comic’s subject matter soon moves the book into darker, more thought-provoking waters. Thoroughly researched and authentic in its historical detail, Peach is a meditation on human sexuality, race relations, politics, cultural divide, the military life, the realities of war, and the foibles of all men, no matter how heroic.
This book — it is important. It says what we are thinking in Croatia.
–Darco Macan, Captain America: Dead Men Running
The Desert Peach chronicles the adventures of the eponymous protagonist, Erwin “The Desert Fox” Rommel’s fictitious homosexual younger brother, Oberst Manfred Pfirsich Marie Rommel (1900-1990), nicknamed the “Desert Peach”. Early issues of the comic focus on the Peach’s command of a misfit unit of the Afrika Korps from 1940 to 1943; subsequent issues explore the pre- and post-war lives of Pfirsich (German for “Peach”) and his supporting cast.
The Peach commands the 469th Halftrack, Gravedigging and Support Unit of the Afrika Korps: a catch-all for misfits, mavericks, and otherwise peculiar soldiers who, for whatever reason, were not suitable for service in the German Army but were nonetheless enlisted.
Based on an escarpment by the sea, Pfirsich holds the opinion that a commander should not merely lead his troops but protect them, and so spearheads an arrangement with local Allied commanders that there should be no fighting in their area. But not every newcomer agrees with Pfirsich’s modus vivendi, and challenges from local enemy armies, irate locals, and political turmoil back home soon test the 469th’s every attempt to avoid the horrible realities of war.
Donna Barr is laughing at the stereotypes and prejudices of war, in a very subtle way. Without any doubt, The Desert Peach is an unusual flight above the ‘black and white’ contexts created by the media of our time.
–Saša Rakezic, Nasa Barba (the newspaper Our Struggle), Serbia
Desert Peach is a graphic work that is more resonant and topical today than ever before. It heavily appeal to fans of historical fiction, military history, LGBT culture, and most significantly readers of political and culturally driven graphic novels such as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Goražde, Miriam Libicki’s jobnik!, and Art Spiegelman’s Maus.
We’ll be raising funds for a new print edition of THE DESERT PEACH: VOLUME ONE collecting the first seven issues of the series. This will be a professionally designed limited edition softcover used to help gain reader and publisher awareness about the property.
Included in this limited edition will be the rarely seen 19-page comic story, “OUTFOXED“, featuring a true tale of The Desert Fox, Erwin Rommel’s past.
The new edition will be designed by none other than Ronnie Casson whose work can be seen on the gorgeous CAT-EYE BOY Volumes 1-2 from Viz Manga Group. Printing will be done by Malloy in Ann Arbor, Michigan.