The Desert Peach looking like The Desert Peach. Artist: Donna Barr.


Medium: Comic books
Originally published by: Thoughts & Images
First appeared: 1988
Creator: Donna Barr
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Comic book characters have been inspired by playing cards, signs in the subway, popular music, and even less probable sources. Cartoonist Donna Barr's Desert Peach may be the only one inspired by a commercially-mixed shade of paint. Upon seeing the color "desert peach", which doesn't seem to correspond to anything found in nature, Barr (already known as the creator of Stinz Löwhard) wondered out loud what it could possibly refer to — the homosexual younger brother of Gen. Erwin Rommel, whom his enemies called "The Desert Fox"? Next thing …

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… she knew, she was writing and drawing the adventures of Pfirsich Rommel, the fictional homosexual younger brother of The Desert Fox.

The fact that Pfirsich was an officer in the German army, doing his patriotic duty during World War II even while the country he was loyal to was being run by Nazis, was no indication of his personal political views. Nor was his open, even flagrant acceptance of his own sexual preference an indication of where he stood as regards courage, integrity and other manly virtues. Tho he started as a one-note vehicle for the obvious gags, Barr succeeded in developing him into a well-rounded character, capable of holding reader interest for new adventures well into his second decade, and remaining in print even today.

Pfirsich first appeared in his own title, as a three-issue series published by Thoughts & Images, one of many 1980s publishers of "alternative" comics, i.e., ones that don't fit comfortably with mainstream publishers. The series began with a cover date of October, 1988, and was over less than a year later. Even there, he was beginning to develop beyond stereotypes, as the second issue consisted mostly of a brawl in a beer joint, with a trouble-maker who thought it would be fun to bully a man like Pfirsich. But the series ended in farce, with Pfirsich and a bunch of companions, including big brother Erwin, surfing nude in the Mediterranean.

But the real character development began in 1990, when Mu Press (Norb, Those Annoying Post Brothers) picked it up as a regular series and continued publishing it on an approximately quarterly basis for the next six years. Then Barr's own enterprise, A Fine Line, continued it for the rest of the 1990s, as well as keeping all previous issues in print, in the form of trade paperbacks.

It's been several years, now, since new stories about The Desert Peach were published. Nor is the entire set of old ones still kept in print. But for readers who aren't put off by frank homosexuality — or from the telling of war stories from the non-American point of view (and objectively, it's hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys in any war story) — selections from his thirty-odd adventures are frequently reprinted.


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Text ©2007-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Donna Barr.