Thursday, April 12, 2012
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant
Title: Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant
Author/Artist: Tony Cliff
Started: May 28, 2011
Ended: February 25, 2012
Pros: Breezy, swashbuckling action; endearing characters; dynamic environments.
Cons: A little on the short side, says the habitual reader of long, never-ending comics.
This Eisner-nominated comic has been getting so much well-deserved publicity lately, I hope it's not too redundant to add my own review to the mix. If it counts for anything, I have been a fan of Tony Cliff's work for many years, and had the pleasure of being introduced to Delilah Dirk long before it was made available online. The excellent comic anthology Flight featured his work in several volumes, and I thought his work really stood out among the others. It was such a treat to see the Delilah Dirk stories expanded, polished, and linked together.
If you enjoy/ed Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, don't touch that remote, because Mr. Cliff is hard at work on a new installment, Delilah Dirk and the Seeds of Good Fortune, due out in print on May 4, 2012!
The characters: Delilah may be the titular lead and the more colorful character, but I feel that Erdemoglu Selim is the true star. Mr. Selim, the Turkish Lieutenant from the subtitle, is just your average Joe. He is unadventurous, good-natured, imminently likable, and would be happy to be left in peace to make (damn good) tea. Most entertainingly for us, that is not to be. Delilah Dirk first endangers his life, then saves it, unwittingly entrapping him in a debt that Mr. Selim feels grudgingly honor-bound to repay. Delilah is difficult to succinctly describe, which is marvelous. She is reminiscent of many famous characters, and yet not quite like any of them. A little Indiana Jones, a little Xena, a little Robin Hood, and a lot of herself. She is confident, witty, capable, but also selfish, brash, and childish. She and Selim are wonderful foils for one another. It's really a two-man show, and it's a delight to watch them interact. And, though I relish a good romance, I appreciate and respect the fact that their relationship doesn't follow the predictable route.
The art: Some comics remain obediently within the borders of their panels, but Delilah Dirk has a way of flooding off the page, sweeping me up like a rakish scoundrel on horseback, and abducting me. Just take a look at the first spread to see what I mean. It is truly a window into another place. The two-page spreads also contribute to this feeling. I've already gone on at length about his environments, but Cliff's characters are just as scintillating. He has experience in animation, which really comes across in his loose, expressive, gestural lines. His art emphasizes the essential --expression, motion, storytelling-- above exacting detail. Not to say that his pages aren't lush and detailed, they just aren't fussy about it. He does a great job with the color as well-- again, not overdoing it on flashy displays but going straight for the heart of a scene, using a variety of atmospheric palettes.
The writing: All the dialogue in Delilah Dirk is sparkling and eloquent, which makes for a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience. As mentioned above, Delilah Dirk is not carried by a complicated plot, but by characters, and their banter is essential to what makes them lovable. Cliff also has a great sense for humorous pacing and juxtaposition, and knows when to let a panel just be silent.
The bottom line: A short-and-sweet swashbuckler that will charm, delight, and leave you hungry for more.
Rating: Five stars
>> Read Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant here! <<