Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence Weekend Review #1: Delilah Dirk And The Turkish Lieutenant

And Now, Put Your Hands Together

 For Our First Independent Lady!

I've rarely read such a wonderful, swashbuckling tale as the story of Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant. The story of Delilah Dirk is rollicking with prison breaks, attacking hordes, sword fights, things blowing up and being incinerated. And yet, through it all, it never stops feeling like the story of two good friends having an adventure. 
.....okay, to be precise, one of them's having an adventure. One of them's trying not to get killed. 
This amazing work, the first in a series, is the creation of Tony Cliff. You can read it and get your hands on a copy here.

The tale begins with Selim, a Turkish lieutenant. Selim likes a quiet life. He likes good tea, poetry, refined pleasures and peace. He doesn't like upsets.
Bad luck for him then that the guard brings in a very feisty prisoner: Delilah Dirk, the Lady Adventurer. Not long later, things get....Shall we say interesting?

The Rating

Best thing I've read in a looooong time

The Raves

The next time someone whines that they can't find good comic books for girls, get them Delilah Dirk. This book has everything a wildhearted girl needs: Delihah, for a start! But there are plenty of adventure stories out already; what makes this one stand out is the craft with which it was created, and the light heart it leaves you with come the finish.
To begin with, the art is beautifully atmospheric and amazing in its detail. 
The comic is set in the early twentieth century, and everything about it captures the sense of a new age of adventure and exploration. The clean linework, expressive character design and great attention to historic detail make you feel as if you're walking these streets. You can almost smell the dust and the salt breeze blowing up off the sea.
And then the writing kicks in, picking up right where the art leaves off. I have to say, Delilah Dirk has some of the wittiest, 
most amusing and most surprisingly subtle writing of any adventure story I've ever read. Cliff does a shockingly good job of getting across whole volumes of personal interaction in concise, dynamic scenes. And the personalities of the two main characters couldn't have been better matched for creating wonderful conversation; sometimes thoughtful, sometimes reflective, but often just plain hilarious. 
Delilah Dirk plays with a lot of the tropes of the Steampunk/ Victorian Adventurer Genre, but it does so with such wit and style that it manages to both pay tribute and poke fun at the archetypes it plays with.  But this time, FOR ONCE, we've been given a heroine who really is THE HERO, a heroine who gets to have ALL THE ADVENTURES. In fact, the creator goes so far as to give us three entire pages detailing just how adventurous Delilah is, and how she came by all her skills. If you ever needed a hero for a tomboy girl, Delilah is it!

The dynamics of the action sequences are also some of the best I've seen

But underpinning all these wild adventures is the subtle and slowly growing friendship she has formed with Selim. After reading the book, that relationship is one of the things that really stayed with me. As a reader, it was wonderful to see a writer pull off, especially in this genre, a true hetrosexual friendship that was mutually beneficial to the characters. For once, the characters didn't need to fall in love to care about each other, to stick together through thick and thin and do anything for one another, up to and including blowing up a castle. And using the eloquent and well-spoken Selim both as Delilah's foil and as the narrator has allowed the creator to transcend the overstimulated boredom that so often descends when reading adventure stories.

The Razzes

....yep, I got nothing.

The Revue

A true coup de grace. There are so many beautiful moments in this story I'd like to show you, but I think it'd be better if you simply started reading for yourself. It's the kind of book that makes your imagination take flight.

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