During World War II, fighting for the Germans was a general called Erwin Rommel: "The Desert Fox". This comic isn't about him. This comic is about his fictional gay younger brother, Pfirsich Rommel: "The Desert Peach".
Pfirsich is a colonel (oberst) running a small support unit of gravediggers in the Afrika Corps. He's helped by his trusted orderly Corporal Udo Schmidt, annoyed by the Nazi-supporting Lt. Kjars Winzig and loved by his handsome fiance Rosen Kavalier.
Pfirsich's unit doesn't really fight in battle, and the Peach likes it that way. Most of the comic revolves around the interactions between the characters, the various messes they get into, and how they deal with war. The Desert Peach is notable for its incredibly human characters, who all have faults and make mistakes yet are still heartwarming and engaging. It's also one of the few works of fiction that remembers that the Wehrmacht wasn't entirely made of up people who committed atrocities against innocent people, though this is helped by the focus on the African Front - a part of the war in which the stakes were lower than in Europe, and the resistance from the local population was also low. The story does well to present everyone as human throughout, something many stories that focus on the Wehrmacht's cruel and brutal acts fail to do.
Originally published in print, it's now being available online for 1.5 dollars per 500 page volume. http://www.lulu.com/shop/donna-barr/the-desert-peach-collection-volume-one/ebook/product-17573115.html (may be NSFW).
Free sample can be found here http://www.lulu.com/ca/en/shop/donna-barr/the-desert-peach-sampler-collection/ebook/product-4461133.html
- Alternate History: After a fashion; Erwin Rommel did have a younger brother named Manfred (Pfirsich's first name), but in real life this brother died in infancy. In her words, the author 'developed a personality the universe had prematurely discarded'.
- Artistic License History:
- Contrary to what the comic claims, Udo could not have been a member of the Nazi Party while in the Heer. Longstanding German law provides that political party membership lapses instantly upon entering the armed forces.
- Really, it'd be easier to list the stuff that doesn't fall under this. Just to point out the two most obvious matters; Pfirsich and Rosen couldn't be engaged in that time period, as gay marriage was an unthinkable concept in any Western country in the world, and Pfirsich wouldn't even be allowed to hold his position, given that A: homosexuals in general were held up as abominations and forbidden service in the military in every Western country, and B: Nazi Germany prosecuted and interned homosexual under Weimar-era laws.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Pfirsich decides the men have had too much time to cause trouble, and orders his sergeant major to come up with something to keep them busy.. The punishment? Move the ENTIRE camp exactly one meter to the right.
- Drugs Are Bad: They cause the normally effeminate Pfirsich to act extremely macho. And psychotic to boot.
- The Faceless: Erwin Rommel's face was constantly hidden, at least until issue #7.
- Insistent Terminology: Pfirsich's scarf is "peach-colored". Pink is "tacky".
- Heroic BSoD: When Pfirsich has some pretty good evidence of the Final Solution brought to him, complete with caption "Image Not Accessible. Attempting Reboot."
- Multinational Team: For a German army unit, they are remarkably cosmopolitan. A French North African auxiliary, the aforementioned Cossack, the German-American P.O.W. who runs the camp newspaper... note
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: With a dash of Black Comedy. Cloudcuckoolander Dobermann is back from a stint back in the Reich.Dobermann: They was killing kikes! And queers!! And Jehovah's Witnesses!!! I'M a Jehovah's Witness!! WHO'D WANT TO HARM A JEHOVAH'S WITNESS!!!(Cut to the rest of the squad, looking up at the sky and whistling.)
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Rosen Kavalier is a nickname. His real full name (Melvin Gonville Ramsbottom) is very embarrassing.
- Oddly Small Organization: Despite Psirfich's battalion consisting of 700 soldiers, sometimes it seems like it's made up entirely of Udo, Winzig, Jeff, Stange, Alemar, Dobermann and Kristof.
- Painting the Medium: An early issue starts with Pfirsich in prison and the comic in white lines on black. Then his brother shows up and rips and tears until normalcy is restored. "When you're a legend, you can do anything!"
- Pink Is for Sissies: Pfirsich's scarf is "peach-colored". Pink is "tacky".
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Bears repeating, according to the newly assigned camp medical officer/psychiatrist.Eddsel: "My duty demands that I point out that you have a unit that consists of NOTHING but stray puppies!"Pfirsich: "Herr Doctor, YOU have just been assigned to this unit.."Eddsel: "Woof woof Mein Herr."
- Reliably Unreliable Guns: Pfirsich is facing down an angry mob of local women, who want the head (and various other bits) of one of the men in his unit (who totally deserves it). Pfirsich draws his pistol (duty is duty, even for scum) and gets a stovepipe jam. He's ready to clear it (a matter of 2 seconds), when he realizes..Pfirsich: "I can't help you darling, my gun's jammed."
- Scenery Censor: The first 20 or so pages of A Day at the Beach aka "The Infamous NUDE Surfing Issue", getting increasingly ridiculous, until Udo breaks the fourth wall and calls the creator on it.
- Those Wacky Nazis:
- Lt. Kjars Winzig. (Ironically, he wasn't a member of the Party because he would have had to pay dues.)
- Even more ironic, the only Nazi in the whole unit is Udo. He happens to be Jewish. He only joined because a desperate party recruiter bought him beer. Later, we find out Udo's family all joined up, to prove that Jews were as patriotic Germans as anyone. One of his cousins ended up in the SS.