I imagine there are some people whose introduction to Farel Dalrymple's art came in his recent collaboration with Brandon Graham on the critically praised Prophet. But hopefully that introduction has led them to track down some of his earlier work, as the Portland based cartoonist has been producing exceptional stories for more than a decade, from his creator-owned Pop Gun War to short stories in publications like Meathaus (co-founded by Dalrymple), Bizarro Comics, and various other anthologies.

And though he does an excellent job of illustrating scripts written by others -- Caper for Vertigo and the reimagined Omega The Unknown for Marvel come to mind -- Dalrymple's vivid imagination is best on display through solo work, writing, illustrating and lettering his own stories. As such, fans of the award winning cartoonist should be excited about the announcement of The Wrenchies, his upcoming YA graphic novel for First Second publishing, as well as the reveal of the books cover, and an early look at some interior art.

The cover debuted over at Hero Complex, where Dalrymple discussed the upcoming project. The Wrenchies features kids in a post-apocalyptic landscape, fighting off zombies and demons to survive. "This is for sure a weird and silly book in the grand scheme of things, I know" says Dalrymple. "At first glance it might seem like just a weird sci-fi comic, but I tried to touch on some deeper stuff too."

He listed several inspirations for the project: novelists Madeleine L’Engle and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, cartoonists Otomo Katsuhiro, Tom Herpich, Paul Pope, Taiyo Matsumoto, Tatsuyuki Tanaka, and Dave Cooper, directors David Lynch, Werner Herzog and Wes Anderson, and Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner, among many others. Perhaps most notably, It was L'Engle's work that inspired Dalrymple to have the story take place in the grander universe he has created in previous stories:

I remember noticing a family tree that Madeleine L’Engle had in “Many Waters” and how all the characters in all her stories were all related in some way. She had two universes, a science fiction one and a more real world setting. Only a few characters crossed over into both. That sort of thing was very exciting to me, and it has been fun over the years creating my own mess based on that concept.


To that end, Dalrymple says The Wrenchies takes place in the same universe as It Will All Hurt, his ongoing web comic (recently printed by Study Group Comics), and will include characters and references from Pop Gun War as well. While it is categorized as a YA book, Dalrymple says he was "deliberately trying to make it more intense and horrific" than his previous work. "I didn’t want anything exploitative or sexy in there, but I wanted the world to feel edgy and scary like a lot of real-life, grown-up situations feel to me."

"In a different way but sort of like in Charles Schulz’s Peanuts, there aren’t any adults around, just these kids dealing with life on their own, negotiating philosophical points."