Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling
Delilah Dirk, Book #2
By Tony Cliff
A delightfully drawn and quasi-historical (according to the author) setting are just a few of the many perks of Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling. Set in the backdrop of the Anglo-Franco wars in Spain and Portugal, with plot twists and cover ups galore, Delilah, and her trusty companion Salim wend their way through Portugal and up through to mighty Albion itself. Charmingly written and paced well, this graphic novel deserves to be on the shelf of any lover of historical fiction. Tony Cliff, an animator by trade, lends the book a healthy dose of life and fun in his depiction of the cast of the graphic novel.
The writing is commendable. Only in a few instances does it resort to expository dialogue, preferring to show the action instead of merely describing it. On first reading, you even gloss over these parts, eager in anticipation for what comes next. Distinctive speech patterns, mannerisms (splendidly drawn), and motivations packs this graphic novel with punch that is seen in few others. Clever pacing and what seem like insurmountable odds keep the reader engrossed the entire way through. Clarity is par for course here and at no moment is the reader left in the dark (unless intentionally). The action is shown, not explained, and the story flows more freely because of this. Tony Cliff doesn’t dumb down the language any but somehow makes it palatable for any age of reader; once again, most likely because animation was his first trade.
The art is fabulous. Even at its most frenetic pace, the lines are still easy to follow and read well; the establishing shots are just a marvel in detail. Color serves both realistic and functional motifs and enhances distinctively drawn backgrounds and landscapes, as well as shining color into the characters. The characters themselves are remarkably drawn; the animation background shows here, as well, giving each character their own distinct appeal and charm. From the subtle nuances of Salim’s expressions, to Delilah’s swashbuckling exploits, Tony’s characters are given a healthy surge of movement and mannerisms distinct to that character. A truly beautiful book to behold, Delilah and the King’s Shilling, is worth the money just for the art alone – coupled with an excellent story, an investment of a lifetime.
The plot moves roughly in the same three act format that starts off with a bang, immediately capturing the reader’s interests building it up to a shattering climax and then settling into the denouement; a popular format that everyone who has seen a Hollywood production can relate to. Historical accuracies swept aside in the interests of story, the plot bends and sways to allow political intrigue, debutante balls, swashbuckling action and heroic setbacks to enter the fray that marked one of the most turbulent times in history, with the French and British troops playing their war machine all across Europe. Starting in Portugal and making its way back to merry England, the reader is bound to resonate with not only with exotic locales, but the people inhabiting them. The plot is written on a multi-faceted palette, much like Disney movies are written, with action for the little ones and more adult issues in the background.
Overall Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling is a geared for all ages and all audiences in mind. Like any great adventure, it moves you and forces you to contemplate. For lovers of the animation industry, high-octane adventure novels, and historical (somewhat) fiction, this graphic novel belongs on your shelf.