by Steve Raymond

Dame Darcy is on a mission. She is best known for her six-year-old comic, "Meat Cake," a distinctly feminine, heavily inked, horror-vaccuii dissection of death and romance in a Victorian-inspired world. But Dame Darcy has big plans. She's positioning herself to become the most popular lipstick-Luddite showoff on the planet. Her universe has expanded to include handmade one-of-a-kind dolls (with real human hair!) and a pilot for a live-action animated TV series based on her cable access show, "Turn of the Century." The Dame, who lives in Manhattan, descended upon the STIM offices and showered us with illustrations, music, animation, handicrafts, and psychic services—and granted this interview:

STIM: Most cartoonists want to stay within their medium—but you don't!

DD: I started out doing animation at the San Francisco Art Institute. But I had so many ideas, and films take so long to finish, I started doing the comic book. I've been doing the comic for six years now, so it's time to expand again.

STIM: So tell me about your plans for global domination.

DD: I wish to become famous and rule the planet. Right now, that will happen when someone buys my pilot for an animation/variety show called "Turn of the Century," which I will host.

STIM: You do music, too, right?

DD: I've always been in bands. I really am the biggest showoff on the planet, unlike most cartoonists. I play weird ethereal music, and old bluegrass songs. I've collaborated with lots of bands, too—and put out some records that I do the artwork for.

My Dad taught me to play banjo when I was 10. He was a bluegrass musician—[he plays] mandolin dulcimer, autoharp, and banjo. When I was a kid there were always these crazy hippies in my living room playing nutty hillbilly songs on electric sitars so I couldn't get to sleep. I would end up going late to Catholic school every day. My mom was a hippy and a Catholic—the hippies love Jesus, so that's not too far out of line. My dad was a sign painter. That's probably why he encouraged me to draw when I was little. So I could help him paint signs.

STIM: It sounds like a weird childhood.

DD: Yeah. When I was six, this hippy friend of my Dad's (who really looked like Jesus) came over and took out his glass eye—it had a little American flag in the pupil. I passed out. Weird stuff like that happened all the time—this was in very isolated Idaho Falls, Idaho—but when you're that young you just sort of accept what's going on. That's totally the way the world is (laughs). I spent seventeen years there in an ice cavern, drawing, doing dumb little plays I wrote, and making flip books. Everything I learned to do then, I make money doing now.

STIM: What influences you visually?

DD: I love Victorian fashions, vaudeville, Grand Guignol, horses, hillbilly music, Christianity, gothic romance, horror—you can see all that stuff in my work.

STIM: Your work is really gothic.

DD: It's a little bit apocalyptic, like the Victorian era itself. It's all seemingly frilly, froufrou, and proper—society was supposed to be so chaste and goody-two-shoes—but underneath, they were even more repressed and obsessed with sex and death.

STIM: Are there any real-world locations that you can use to enter your world?

DD: Yeah, lots of places: Coney Island, how it used to be; graveyards and carousels I've visited across America; the race tracks in Kentucky; and the weird mansions of Newport, Rhode Island. There are also these crazy spelunking caves in Idaho that I used to visit a lot. Oh, and New Orleans, which I want to visit someday.

STIM: What about heroes and heroines?

DD: David Lynch, who I think had a similar upbringing, maybe; Winsor McCay, who was an animator and an illustrator; and Siamese Twins. I saw these Siamese Twins on "Oprah"—they're just like Hendrance & Perfidia, my cartoon characters, but they're blonde six-year-olds. They have two heads, one pelvis, and two legs—they're joined at the pelvis. I saw another thing on PBS, where they separated these two little joined girls who really were Siamese! Wonder twin powers, activate! I used to have a twin, but I ate her while we were still inside my mother's uterus, because I wanted to stay the queen bee. My mother only had boys after that. I wish I had a twin now, one who could do all my drudge work for me.

STIM: Tell me about your dolls.

DD: I've been making dolls since I was really young. I started making new ones a couple of years ago, and my boyfriend at the time told me I should sell them. Since then, I've sold so many dolls it's insane. I use real human hair, and now I make ghost girls with glow-in-the-dark skeletons. I try to give them personalities that their new owners will like. My doll Isabelle is my little grandma baby, she was born in 1927, and I just love her. She's going to be my costar in every film I make!

STIM: Do you have any weird fan stories? You must have some strange fans.

DD: I got this one recently—this guy, for a year, was proposing to me every other week. He was writing these letters to me from a mental hospital! The last thing I got from him was this giant portfolio which had all of these letters he'd started to write to me in this childlike handwriting and then stopped: "Here's a lucky penny for you," all this weird stuff. Then I got this letter saying he'd kill himself without me, and that's the last thing I got from him.

STIM: Do you believe in God or psychic phenomena?

DD: Well, I think it has to do with the Catholic thing: I'm so superstitious. I just saw a crow flying; I just saw a woman carrying a piggy bank; Does it mean something? I've had lots of near-death experiences, maybe six or seven, all of them when I was a little daredevil. I almost got hit by a train when I was sixteen, threw myself down a flight of stairs when I was drunk, used to get in bar brawls all the time, and went on the Suckdog Tour, which almost killed me. So I sense there has to be an afterlife, or I would feel cheated.

I've accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into my heart as my lord and savior. I love Jesus, and I love Mary. It's the typical Victorian family setup. The martyr older brother who'll suffer for you and give you advice; the mother that's always trying to sneak around the overbearing father who's always trying to punish you, so you go to your mother and ask her for forgiveness or money, and maybe she'll sneak it to you. You can't ask your father for anything, though, because all he's out to do is punish you.   </end>

Dame Darcy's empire includes: the comic book "Meat Cake" from Fantagraphic Books palm readings by mail; handmade dolls by mail ($50 + $2 shipping and handling), limited-edition prints of the Lady Ghoul centerfold from "Meatcake 2". Also, for anyone in the N.Y.C. area, "Turn of the Century" airs Wednesdays at 12:30 a.m. (July-September) on Manhattan Cable Access. She also plays in the band Planet Philly with Bliss Blood & Dutchess Daria.

For everyone, except crazy admirers, Dame Darcy can be reached at:

P.O. Box 730
NYC, NY 10009

All illustrations by Dame Darcy

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