Almost two years ago Nick Ottens sent me a hard copy of Diesel City, Stefan Prohaczka’s opus magnum about the Dieselpunk genre. On many occasions I have been tempted to write a review about it, but what could I add to the words of referents like Denis Parent, Lord K., Marcus Rauchfuß, Nick Ottens or Tome Wilson? I am very aware this is quite a challenge, but it is time to pick the glove up. Besides, this delay gives me the opportunity to recommend you the graphic novel Silent Empire, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
1.- An introduction to Diesel City
Please, let me begin warning you. Diesel City is not only a book, but much more: it is a gate to the diesel-powered mind of a gifted artist, it is a bridge to an uchronic parallel dimension, a land of retrofuturistic dystopia. All this is possible because Stefan is not only a stunning illustrator, but also a talented copywriter.
Perusing Diesel City illustrations and texts I could not help but summon up legendary comics such as Black Kiss (H. Chaykin), Rocketeer (D. Stevens) and Sin City (F. Miller). Stefan’s works evoke the atmosphere of cinema masterpieces like Brazil (T. Gilliam), Casablanca (m. Curtiz), Dark City (A. Proyas), L.A. Confidential (C. Hanson) or Rebeca (A. Hitchcock). Like Dominic Cobb in Inception, this creator builds his own Art Déco world full of intimidating skyscrapers that hail a promising future, the music of clandestine jazz clubs and roaring engines, narrow dark alleys wallpapered with totalitarian propaganda. Like Batman’s Gotham City, the perfect environment for the archtypes of the epic heroe, the femme fatale, the blackmailed private eye or the merciless villain is generated.
My partner Irene and I have been doing a thorough research about the Art Déco style in order to design our newly unveiled Metropolis Collection and we cannot do otherwise but pay our respects to the unequaled depictions of Stefan Prohaczka.
One can never rewrite the past. How many times have you heard that one? It’s one of the silliest things that can be said. Of course one can rewrite the past. You constantly rebuild it, making it less simple or more than perfect, and it ends up getting that unique brightness, that nostalgic sheen, an ultimate patina of the past future that never was. That polished past becomes the ideal mode of expression for everything in you: what you believed in, hoped for, dreamt of, and it also carries a bitter-sweet flavor of regret, its distant future sparing you the unbereable suffering of when you finally gave up in the end. Easily bridging the gap between what you should have known and what you always knew, your perfect past can never land the same disenchanting blows as the present day.
Diesel City, page 57.
2.- The edition
Diesel City has a beautifully-produced edition run of 800 copies in French and 1200 copies in English, including four original folio pieces. One hundred copies of each language are a limited edition that includes the four original folio pieces signed and numbered by the author. The book is structured in the following chapters:
- Diesel City
- Uncommon Transportation
- Inmobile Voyage
- Heroes & Bad Boys
- The End
This blog post includes some images from the book, but if you want to discover my favorite ones you will need yo have a peek at Diesel City to rejoice with Headlines, Tycoon, Diesel Palace, Zeppelins, The Sparrow and Global Power.
Diesel City is your passage to a past that never was. Buy it at your own risk, as the official teaser shows, this is not suitable travel for the faint of heart…
P.S. If you like Diesel City -and I know you will-, do not dare to miss the ‘Diesel City Novel’ Silent Empire by Bard Constantine. As the excerpt goes ‘Francis is a man haunted by visions of a family he can’t remember and the growing awareness that his world is a fabrication by oppressors who control every aspect of his existence. After being contacted by the mysterious Coalition, Francis is reluctantly persuaded to find the answers that elude him. His pursuit of truth puts him in a duel of wills against the Sovereign, the oppressive empire that uses the machine of propaganda combined with the brutal terror of their Dogmen to smother any spark of rebellion’.
Copyright.- All images courtesy of Stefan Prohaczka.