IT'S EASY to fall under the spell of Dame Darcy’s pen-and-ink world. Enchanting Victorian adornments, lovingly rendered detailing, delightfully humorous storylines, and fearless female leads spill out of the pages of her treasured Meatcake comic, defining the Fantagraphics publication as a cult classic.
Out of Meatcake, Darcy spawned Voyage of Temptress, a web comic chronicling treasure-seeking pirates and a band of mermaids along Georgia’s coast.
Ever the Jill-of-all-trades, Darcy has turned the comic into a television show. Voyage of Temptress premieres on Wednesday, May 20, as a part of Darcy’s famed Naughty Nautical Nite.
The locally-produced pilot sets sail down the Intercoastal Waterway. As a Dame Darcy original sea shanty theme song cues up, we’re introduced to a band of mermaids who have just discovered a treasure map, outlying a path to Confederate gold.
A gang of pirates is intent on making the treasure their own; with ghostly appearances, tours of the fascinating little islands that pepper the coast, animations, and some dolphin translation, Darcy sweeps us away on a whirlwind journey that’s wonderfully lo-fi and distinctly Savannah.
Darcy notes that, with the Lowcountry’s stretches of beaches freckled in shark’s teeth and grey water swirling over buried history, Voyage of Temptress has a perfect setting.
“I’m from New York; this place looks like a fantasy land to me!” she proclaims. “I’m just super into this place...there’s a big pirate history that drew me in. We’re just utilizing the stuff around us...it’s sort of like living in my comic book!” she laughs.
“In New York, it was really expensive, so I used this as my artist retreat,” Darcy explains. “I moved here in 2011, and I’ve been here ever since.”
For all the whimsy and screwball humor that permeates Voyage, Darcy advises that the story has an environmentalist heart.
“The concept is that the mermaids are sort of like the voice of the ocean, and they have an environmental message,” she explains. “But I thought it would be easier for landlubbers to start caring about the ocean if there were mermaids...because not everybody understands the ocean or sea life, but we do need to conserve. If we start locally, we got this!”
Darcy cites Ashley Workman’s proposal to ban single-use plastic bags on Tybee Island as an example of a great local initiative.
“It’s really bad for wildlife,” she says. “But if you make it all cute with mermaids and pirates, it’s an easier message. It inspires people.”
While said mermaids and pirates are at odds early on in the story, Darcy says viewers can expect to see them unite in an effort to conserve their mutually beloved ocean. Together, they hunt for the lost gold, agreeing to use it to fund environmental causes.
Darcy plans to continue producing the show locally, but has big plans for Voyage.
“I’m going to look into funding and talk to the people who produce Adult Swim, as my stuff’s very experimental,” she says.
“But my biggest goal is to get it on the Lifetime network!” she laughs. “It’s got a lot of girls in it, almost all the cast are girls, women; half of my production team is women!”
Whatever it takes, she knows she’ll find a way.
“I’ve published over 50 books, and I produced a TV show in Manhattan for four years, and cabaret and all that stuff—I know how to produce,” Darcy says.
“Everything I do gets done; I’ll get funding, I’ll make it happen. There’s always a way to make it happen!”
There will be two showings of Voyage at Naughty Nautical Nite, the first at 9 p.m. and the second at 11 p.m. The 9 p.m. is open to all ages.
Before bringing the semi-annual celebration of fantastic sea life and pirate-inspired revelry to Savannah, Darcy hosted Naughty Nautical Nites in New York. Sometimes, they’ll coincide with her book releases; 2012’s Sparetime bash doubled as an unveiling for one of Darcy’s most beloved creations, Handbook for Hot Witches.
In the past, Darcy has welcomed performer friends like the fabulous accordion-slinging Crabettes, Anitra Opera Diva, Peter Dark, and more. The costume contest is an honored tradition, and prizes await the best-dressed attendees.
“We are very encouraging of themes,” she says. “Captain, lifeguard, old-fashioned pirates, mermaids.”
A sailor herself, Darcy encourages nautical enthusiasts of all types to comes out.
“We just really love that this is a port town; this is a place for actual sailor and nautical enthusiasts to come out, too. Wear your foul weather gear, it’s fine!”
The Tied & Tasseled Cabaret, a fetish burlesque troupe with whom Darcy is involved, have a seaside theme for their performance.
“I really like cabaret, because it’s all about expressing yourself and female empowerment,” says Darcy. “Sexy, not slutty—just really cute and wacky! It’s just a place where anybody who wants to express themselves—if you’re gender-bendy, if you’re transsexual, or bisexual, or gay, or whatever, it’s a place you can just be free...you can go and feel like other people care, and you can dress up, and you don’t feel alienated or excluded if you feel like that a lot.”
Since Voyage is still in its early stages—and Darcy adores collaboration—she encourages anyone who may be interested in getting involved to contact her.
“If anyone has different ideas for ways to produce it, or if someone has a sailboat or wants to be involved in any way with production, they are welcome to give me a ring,” she says.
“...a diamond, preferably!” she cackles. “Or preferably a treasure chest. Why not!”
Naughty Nautical Nite: Voyage of Temptress TV Premiere, Tied & Tasseled Cabaret
Wednesday, May 20
The Bayou Café
Two shows: 9 p.m. (all ages), 11 p.m. (21+)