Reviewed by D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974-76) & Costa Rica 1976-77)
This is an interactive graphic novel by Bill Owens. The author claims to be channeling Ned Buntline, the narrator of the story. The many great illustrations are the work of Francesca Cosanti. According to Buntline: “’The Delco Years’ was written in 1999 and put away for 21 years. Then in the Fall of 2020, for some unknown reason (COVID-19), I started re-writing and added illustrations.”
Due to the accidental release of a weaponized strain of anthrax, the human population of the world has been nearly wiped out. The only people who survived were drinkers of unpasteurized craft beer.
The two major themes of the novel are, the series of events leading to the apocalypse, and the story of one group of surviving beer drinkers in northern California.
The beer drinkers form a government and barter-based society in a local vineyard and golf course, trading wine and beer for food and other necessities.
The title of the novel refers to a popular brand of car batteries. The useful life of a car battery is about five years, and the survivors thought they had about that long to rebuild society. Eventually cars would not be functional, and people would have to become farmers, growing crops, herding cattle and the like to survive. (The novel does not deal with the fact that cattle, horses and other mammals may also be killed by anthrax!)
Of course, the book is full of humor, an attempt to satirize end-of-the-world stories. For example, the guy who accidently released the anthrax is a former evangelical preacher who buys the anthrax . . . from a Russian of course . . . to kill fellow preachers who he considered corrupt. He nearly destroys humankind because he doesn’t realize how potent the anthrax is.
Some of the language and illustrations are explicit, so this is most definitely a graphic novel for adults, not a comic book for children! For a humorous take on the apocalypse, and a postapocalyptic world, I highly recommend it.
D.W. Jefferson was a Peace Corps agriculture volunteer in El Salvador (1974-76) and Costa Rica (1976-77). A blog about his Peace Corps years is at: dwjefferson.blogspot.com He is currently retired from a career in computer software engineering.