Thanks to a friend’s recommendation that I read Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes, a collection of comic book art interpretations of common nursery rhymes, I was introduced to the publishing company First Second. As this collection featured some beautiful art, I knew I had to learn more about this comic artists– and I realized they were all signed with the same publishing company. Brilliant marketing. It totally worked because I am in love with all these artists. And, after I finished Nursery Rhyme Comics, I looked up all my favorite artists and immediately reserved some of their solo works from the library. Enter Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant.
Delilah Dirk is an intriguing Indiana-Jones-meets-Robin-Hood improbably talented character. As described in the graphic novel she was born to an English foreign ambassador and a Greek artisan, trained with marksmen in France, survived the jungles of India, learned acrobatics in Indonesia, perfected her sword technique in a Japanese monastery, and visited the Far West in the New World. She knows 47 different sword fighting techniques, can pick any lock, escape any restraint, and can dismember a man in seconds. Literally impossibly perfect heroine.
And I love her.
She even has a flying boat! …Shame about that boat…
Her reluctant side-kick is Erdemoglu Selim, a lieutenant in the Turkish Janissary Corps. He isn’t very good at his job, but he is excellent at blending tea. He has happily lived a fairly quiet Turkish life until Delilah comes falling into it. She is captured, and he is sent to interrogate her. While reporting to the Sultan the ridiculous information mentioned above, which the Sultan obviously doesn’t believe, Delilah escapes. Since Selim’s story is absolutely absurd, the Sultan assumes Selim helped Delilah escape, and the two are somewhat precariously joined together.
Thus begins 100 pages of adventure.
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant is told entirely from Selim’s perspective. At times, he feels a bit Watson-esque in his telling. Attempting to not take part in the adventures, Selim’s perspective can feel a bit observant. Intentionally naïve, perhaps. But as the story progresses he grows. He learns how Delilah works as the story progresses. The two of them develop a wonderful chemistry as partners and learn how to play well off each other. Never once do we hint at romance, and I greatly appreciate that.
Delilah’s larger-than-life personality is perfect for this story. She is a film-worthy heroine that laughs at the concept of consequences. She’ll deal with those when they show up. She is also portrayed as a realistically shaped woman that resembles a human more than a Barbie. I GREATLY appreciate this. Particularly since I’ve been reading the Girl Genius series, and, well, the shapeliness of the characters can be distasting. That said, Delilah’s outfit seems quite impractical for an adventurer such as herself, but who am I to judge?
The art is absolutely gorgeous. It’s vibrant and colorful. Cliff does a great job showing movement in his pages, which I found mesmerizing. The art complements his story quite well, and I believe well represents the era. While some of the ridiculous things about Delilah are obviously not historically accurate (or even possible), I still feel like this story was well researched. The historical context being accurately portrayed in the art helps balance our non-stereotypical characters quite a bit.
An enjoyable read and wonderful escapism to an era I am only slightly familiar with. I look forward to reading more of their adventures together!