Donna Barr is an accomplished artist and prolific writer who served in the United States Army and received a bachelor's degree in German from Ohio State University. Barr is best known for her two comic book series Stinz (1984) and The Desert Peach (1986). This digitized collection presents her most ambitious work, a series of 12 handmade ornate, stitchery-covered bound sketchbooks, called the Black Manuscripts. The manuscripts contain dozens of separate stories using pencil, ink, watercolor, and silkscreen. Each manuscript has been made available as an individual PDF file to emulate the experience of viewing the physical volumes. Backside pages on which Donna made notations and draft sketches are included in the scans. Due to the very delicate and unique nature of these artistically hand-bound volumes, an overhead scanner was used. Occasional numbered pages have been removed from the physical manuscripts by the artist.
Of her Black Manuscripts, Donna states, "They are set in a mythical Reich that I consider my true homeland - and I don't claim it's a nice one, or that I ever want to go back, or want anyone else to live there. The stories all deal with new characters, like anthologies of short stories. They're politically tumultuous, insular and complex, dealing with everything from changing status of Jews and women in that Germany, to the place of gays and vampires and black people. It was drawn after my time in the army, when I was coming to grips with the ideas of the early '70's. I don't claim they're valid or relevant for today. Or maybe they are. They were drawn and written for myself, and I don't claim anything else for them."
More information about the complete Donna Barr collection at San Diego State University Library can be found here. The Black Manuscripts contain sexually explicit content.