I mentioned a few weeks back the graphic novel Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, written and drawn by Tony Cliff (NOT the Trotskiist activist of the same name).
I was planning on getting me a copy as a celebration award for completing my novel, but a friend beat me and gave me a copy as a gift.
I read the book on my way back from Lucca (and this made me one of the few men to come home from a comic fair holding a comic that was not on sale at the fair), and then again last week, just because it’s too good a story.
And I must confirm my first impression – this work is an utter delight.
The story in a nutshell: Lieutenant Erdemoglu Selim is a member of the Janissaries, but he has more the soul of a storyteller (and a tea brewer!) than of a soldier.
When he’s given the task of interrogating a prisoner, he meets Delilah Dirk, an unconventional British adventuress that left behind her cozy life to travel the world.
Unexpected events cause the two to throw their lot together and hit the road.
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant is a well-written historical fantasy, set in the early years of the 19th century.
The work of Tony Cliff is simply breath-taking.
Graphically stunning, the story works most of all because of the chemistry between the two unlikely characters.
There is a lightness of touch, an affectionate attitude, and yet a depth in the characterization, that is absolutely stunning.
And yes, there’s also a lot of excellently drawn, perfectly choreographed action, intriguing secondary characters, lots of funny situations, masterful cliffhangers. And a flying boat.
And yet the story takes its time to explore the two main characters, their attitude, their hopes and dreams and wishes, making them well-rounded and human.
This is the sort of story that would work great in any medium – it would make a great movie or TV series, it would be a great read as a series of novels. It would be a killer as a musical.
The graphic novel format is a solid compromise of wonderful vistas and great storytelling.
Now there’s talk about a second volume.
And I’m really looking forward at it.