Review: Delilah Dirk and the Treasure of Constantinople by Tony Cliff
This Book Is About
A tale of adventure told in twenty-five illustrated plates. Delilah Dirk, English-Greek heroine and master of forty-seven different sword-fighting techniques, has been captured breaking into the palace in Constantinople. Her goal: to “repatriate” several of His Majesty’s prized ancient scrolls. But how will she accomplish that from the dungeon? And what does her arrival mean for mild-mannered, dutiful and loquacious Captain Selim?
My Thoughts On This Book
I love Delilah Dirk. I want more. This comic is witty, adventurous, fun and excellently drawn and shaded. Both Delilah and Captain Selim are very enjoyable characters (Selim is great, he talks like I do). The historical Constantinople setting (sometime during the Ottoman reign, during the 17 or 1800′s?) is a pretty fresh one for a sword-swinging adventuress.
Tony Cliff is clearly that happy rarity, a skilled artist AND writer.
I discovered Delilah Dirk and the Treasure of Constantinople at the Flight Comics booth at the 2007 ComicCon and fell in love. I had flipped and scanned through a few of the group’s titles on the table but nothing grabbed me. I was about to leave the booth when the colors on the cover for Delilah caught my eye.
I flipped through some of the middle pages and the scene that sold me on the comic was Delilah chained to a dungeon wall, calling to the guard. The guard appears and she says she just called him over to warn him that she’s going to escape.
I had to show this comic to everyone I ran into at the Con; every friend, friend’s friend, visiting relative of a friend, and any random stranger who sat down near me in the games room (not that there were many of those). I handed my copy of Delilah Dirk to each of them and they all enjoyed it.
One friend I showed Delilah Dirk to was as taken with the comic as I was. She was particularly impressed by Tony Cliff’s drawing, because of the graceful and realistic rendering he does of human body posture; she told me she could tell that he’d studied the human form.
Indeed, both the movement of the character’s bodies and their facial expressions are very human. I hadn’t really noticed it until my friend pointed it out. That’s how natural Tony Cliff’s characters are.
My friend liked Delilah so much she had to have a copy for herself. And so the adventure began…
Chriss & Friend and the Quest for the Flight Comics Booth
My friend had to have a copy of Delilah for herself. We left the games room and went right back down to the Con floor so I could take her to the booth I got the comic at.
The hitch: I’d forgotten what group’s booth it was and could only remember the sort of general area of the ComicCon floor I had been in.
Have I mentioned I couldn’t find my way out of a wet paper bag with a chainsaw and a dotted line marked “cut here”?
We wandered. We circled like weary sharks. I stared in perplexity because the booth was still NOT in the same place I’d just looked twice already. And my friend gently suggested several times that maybe she had a better clue than Ms. I’m-sure-it-was-to-the-left-of-the-silver-age-comics.
Luckily for my friend’s Delilah Dirk craving, she knew the Con floor pretty well and actually has a sense of direction. So she could figure out from my vague descriptions where the booth ought to be.
Moments after I’d given up on leading us and handed the reins of direction over to her, my friend had located the booth and scored her very own copy of Delilah Dirk and the Treasure of Constantinople.
Next Con I’ll carry a Minoan-sized ball of string with me. That, or take notes. One of the two.
Shade-tastic Or Blank-Space-City?: How Well This B&W Comic Was Shaded
I’ve got this problem with black-and-white comics. It’s my brain. It’s a strange, abstract place that turns faux-woodgrain on bathroom stall doors into dragon faces. And that’s after a casual glance.
The upswing is that I can be artistically inspired by a pile of laundry. The down side is that I can’t read most B&W comics, graphic novels or manga. The reason is that the lack of color and the, usual, sparse shading gives my abstract, wandering brain nothing to follow; my eyes are left drifting around and my brain can’t latch on to anything to pay attention to.
So, how good is the shading in Delilah Dirk? Well, I have mentioned that I love this comic, right?
Though only the cover of this comic is in color (and those colors are a great palette in themselves), I had no trouble at all reading Delilah or following the action. The reasons?
- Delilah Dirk is more gray-scale than regular ‘ol black-and-white
- Tony Cliff does a faboo job with his shading, which is plentiful and near masterful
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