Scarlett Takes Manhattan

July 2009 from Fugu Press

Scarlett O'Herring: Dancer, fire-breather, courtesan, and the star of Molly Crabapple's first graphic novel from Fugu Press.

Written by long-time collaborator John Leavitt, "Scarlett" follows the rise of Miss O'Herring from tragedy (her mother crushed by copulating circus elephants) through her grand entrance on the stage (accidental and sans costume) to her triumph as the fire-breathing queen of burlesque. It's a sexy, decadent romp through the slums and palaces of New York's Gilded Age.

Scarlett Takes Manhattan brings to life a character from Molly and John's long-running web comic "Backstage" from the collective Act-i-vate.

As Molly says, "It has Tammany Hall and bad politics and early-lesbian culture in it. And it's very dirty."


Molly Crabapple is THE artist of our time. I am desperately in love with her vision, her world, her characters, her art—and I want to live there!

— Margaret Cho

With its tongue in several cheeks at once, Scarlett overheats the Victorian erotic memoir into a madly funny firepit of debauchery. Disgustingly wonderful.

— Warren Ellis, author of Crooked Little Vein, Transmetropolitan, etc.

If we look below Molly Crabapple's exuberant colours and pretty, sensuous linework, at its heart Scarlett Takes Manhattan is pure punk: ebullient, bawdy, irreverent and libertine.

— Bryan Talbot, writer/artist of Grandville

Scarlett Takes Manhattan is erotically charged, funny, imaginative and stylishly antiquarian. It makes me want to climb inside the pages and close the book behind me forever.

— Trav S.D., author of No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book that Made Vaudeville Famous

What can a pair of retro-eyed hipsters do with our long-hidden, nasty, turn-of-the-century world of popular entertainment and its wondrously depraved political environs? Well, they could have concocted some limp-legged fantasy novel with Dickensian touches and 19th-century slang. But that's not what Molly Crabapple and John Leavitt's approach: they have created an outré graphic novel series about a saucy waif vamping her way through the stagedoors of the Big City vaudeville scene. Their Scarlett Takes Manhattan nods knowingly to the phantasmagoria and transsexualities of The Yellow Kid, Winsor McCay, Little Anny Fanny, and R. Crumb. It is an erotic and historical visual hoot. We can only hope that their twisted storytelling and nipple-bearing characters continue to appear in print form. Get it before the cartoon censors lower the curtain on their orgasmic heroine or it manifests itself in Off-Off-Off Broadway production.

— Mel Gordon, author of Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin


Sample Artwork

All samples are high-resolution TIFFs in CMYK format, and JPEGs in RGB format. Please use the TIFF versions for print for best color accuracy. To right-click on the links to save them to your desktop.

The images below are linked to the TIFF versions:


The Two Gentleman Band (site) has written a song just for Scarlett! Play Song!

About Molly Crabapple

MOLLY CRABAPPLE (illustrator) is an award-winning artist, author, and the founder of Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School, a globe-spamming chain of alternative drawing salons. She learned to draw in a Parisian bookstore, and once sketched her way into a Turkish jail. Her art has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Marvel Comics, and on theatrical curtains, parade installations, and flyers littering the city of New York. In her free time, she likes coffee.

About John Leavitt

JOHN LEAVITT (writer) is a cartoonist, writer, illustrator and Libra. His cartoons and illustrations have appeared in: The New Yorker, The Chronicle Review, The New York Press, The Common Review, The Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy and many other really, really impressive places. He lives in New York City.

About Chris Lowrance

CHRIS LOWRANCE (letterer) is a 24-year-old cartoonist, illustrator and designer living in a house in the woods of North Carolina with his high-school sweetheart, elderly father-in-law, three chickens and five cats. It all sounds very vanilla, doesn't it? Almost... too vanilla....

About Fugu Press

Founded in 2008, FUGU PRESS publishes books and comics for grown-ups. Scarlett Takes Manhattan is their first graphic novel.


For all sales and press inquiries, contact Christophe Pettus, Publisher, at or +1 415 252 4343.