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Exclusive Q&A with Farel Dalrymple

Farel Darymple talks about his latest futuristic fantasy quest graphic novel five years in the making, The Wrenchies.

TheWrenchiesQ1: Tell us a little about The Wrenchies! What’s it about?

The Wrenchies is a metaphysical fantasy quest through a futuristic and insane world -- as well as a journey through the life and regrets of a super hero wizard known as Sherwood Breadcoat.

Q2: What are some of your favorite books?

The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky, The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki, Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.

Q3: Your art in The Wrenchies is so detailed and distinctive! How do you create it?

I make art slowly with occasional hair pulling. I usually do thumbnail layouts of a page then draw it with pencil on watercolor paper, go back over that with ink and brush, sometimes pen, then I watercolor on top of that. Then I scan the pages and do a little bit of production work with Photoshop. I like pages existing as art objects, so I try to do as little computer stuff as possible.

Q4: Kids fighting in wars has been a hotly contested topic, both in real life and in post-apocalyptic fiction like The Hunger Games. It’s an integral part of The Wrenchies; how do you feel about the subject?

The violence in The Wrenchies is mostly cartoonish gore. Violence toward children in real life and using children to fight in wars are of course horrible, disgusting and intolerable.

I didn’t want to celebrate violence as much as use it as sort of a metaphor for the challenges and trauma we face growing up. Hollis comments on this a few times in the story. I also wanted to show that conflict and destruction is something I have had to live with without really knowing how to deal with. I used to often escape into a fantasy world where I could deal with violence in a more controlled fashion.

The Wrenchies is supposed to be scary, but more in a silly way rather than giving anyone nightmares.

Magic in The Wrenchies seems to happen as part of the every day experience, which I think is a really cool aspect of the book. How did you develop this magical system?

I mostly just made it up as I went. Anything could really happen in that world, but most of the ideas are based from memories of sitting in church youth group listening to sermons about Satanism and the occult and “demonic” rock and roll music. So I tried to incorporate those weird ghostly memories of magic into the story. There was even a story my very religious mother told me about astral projection that fascinated me for years that I had to put in there.

Q5: Which character in The Wrenchies do you feel is most like you?

Well, Sherwood Breadcoat with the neurosis and anxiety, is supposed to be semi-autobiographical.  But personality-wise I relate so much more to that Hollis character. I get a little emotional whenever I try to re-read his chapter.

Q6: Are there other post-apocalyptic books that have inspired you that you’d recommend?

The previously mentioned manga, Akira for sure.

I also really dug the Picturebox comics If 'n Oof by Brian Chippendale, and CF’s Power Masters. Those worlds are more like what I was trying to go for rather than just your straight up nuclear wasteland type thing. I thought Brian Ralph’s Daybreak was a great post-apocalyptic comic.

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