Graphic Novel: Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff, Delilah Dirk #1

Lovable ne'er-do-well Delilah Dirk has travelled to Japan, Indonesia, France, and even the New World. Using the skills she's picked up on the way, Delilah's adventures continue as she plots to rob a rich and corrupt Sultan in Constantinople. With the aid of her flying boat and her newfound friend, Selim, she evades the Sultan's guards, leaves angry pirates in the dust, and fights her way through the countryside. For Delilah, one adventure leads to the next in this thrilling and funny installment in her exciting life.

A little bit Tintin, a little bit Indiana Jones, Delilah Dirk is a great pick for any reader looking for a smart and foolhardy heroine...and globetrotting adventures.


I have been reading some very solid young adult graphic novels and children's books from First Second and I recently came across their Delilah Dirk series and found this directly to my liking. What better subject to write a graphic novel about, intended for a younger audiance, than with a swashbuckling, adventurous young women who once she sets her mind an a goal, she will never loose it out of her sight? I really enjoyed this first introduction to Delilah Dirk, her witty and smart remarks are funny to read about and well she has a flying boat, yes a flying boat, how cool is that!

The story of Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant takes place somewhere in the 1800s  in the Middle East and focuses of course on the adventurous heroine Delilah Dirk. One day Delilah finds herself locked up in a Turkish prison, even though with all her skills she wasn't able to escape capture or was she? During her imprisonment a Turkish Lieutenant Selim brings her refreshments but well they don't really get off on the right foot. Delilah wouldn't be Delilah if she wasn't planning everything in advance and her getting caught was all part of the plan. Also Delilah doesn't shy away from not using other for her gain and she uses Selim in her advantage to escape, this does quite turn the table on everything and Selim is now accused of being Delilah's accomplice in procuring a set of rare scrolls from the Sultan's collection... Now you might figure where this might be going, Delilah and Selim rush out of the Sultan's palace luckily with their health still up to par but they do have to fear for the Sultan's troops as he is determined to get his belongings back. This is all the start of a hectic, full-tilt adventure! 

I really enjoyed the story of Delilah Dirk, I normally read full length books and reading this graphic story which, come to think of it is just like a full story, but a bit more interactive and a lot light hearter than just plain text really helps to reset everything. The boisterous Delilah and the bit shy Selim make up for a great duo, this might not be that original but they are somewhat opposite poles of each other, which in turn makes up for a very nice interplay with each other. And in the end they do have to rely on each other and even with all the skill that Delilah has she is very much helped by the presence of Selim. The narration of the story is solid and one thing that really helps to set the mood of the story just right were the illustrations, I have taken the liberty of adding a few to the review so that you can get a glimpse of just what type of illustrations feature in the graphic novel. 

I have to say that the illustrations are really on par with the sense that Tony Cliff wants to show in the story. As I mentioned earlier the story takes place in the 1800's. The illustrations are a bit "rough" they aren't perfectly round, they are drawn in a very pacey kind of way, the faces if you look at that of Delilah and Selim have something rustic to them, it hard to clearly describe but this isn't Disney children drawing but better for me by far. One thing that is also nicely done is the using of colors, again this helps to inspire the Middle East feeling, there are some bright colors in the illustrations but the overall tone is more shaded pastel kind of colors. One page that I really like was the one shown above in the cellar, look at just how that ray of sunshine shown. Perfect stuff really! 

Delilah Dirk in itself makes up for an interesting protagonist. Having grown up while traveling and doing as a girl everything that boy wants to led her to become the female embodiement of Indiana Jones and a bit of Aladdin on the side. In the first instance she does come over as a bit of an arrogant know it all but that is truly part of her character. You might even start to dislike her in this part but when you continue reading you learn that some of it is part of the act and that she is a person who isn't really that selfish. Selim is also a very interesting character, he is a lieutenant but isn't really that much into fighting he prefers to 'make the perfect cup of tea instead. When the battles gets intense or even before it, you will most likely find Selim hiding under a table or in a closet. Together though, Selim and Delilah make up for a great team. 

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant is a pacey graphic novel full of boisterous adventure that youngsters and adults will love to read. We are all used to male leads being the most self confident adventures but Tony Cliff shows that female can make the perfect lead as well. Now that I think of it, Delilah some how reminds me of Lara Croft! Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant introduced a great promise, of which I am eager to see the follow up from. Just looking at what I have seen in this first volume I know there must be more adventures waiting to happen!

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