REVIEW DAY TUESDAY: Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant

This book will likely be as “mainstream” as I get here on Indie Comics Hub, because the publisher of Delilah Dirk – First Second – is readily accessible. They have books in major bookstores as well as public libraries. So Delilah Dirk should NOT be hard for you to find and get.

With that said, you should really get a chance to read this beauty at least once in your life.

I first read this book back in 2016. I found it, weirdly enough, at the airport bookstore on my way to Albuquerque, NM for an artist retreat/vacation. When I saw that Tony Cliff did both the writing and the art, I knew the name was ringing a bell. It took a little while for me to remember, “Oh, right! Tony Cliff was one of the regular contributors to the Flight comics anthologies!”

Since he already made one of my favorite short stories ever, “Old Oak Trees,” I was 110% willing to read Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant.

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant is the story of Selim, a lieutenant in the Ottoman Empire who’s not too keen on his position. But it’s a mundane life until Delilah Dirk, adventurer extraordinaire, breaks into the palace and proceeds to wreck the place. Due to misunderstandings and a lot of shenanigans, Selim gets caught up in Delilah’s adventures, and the two set off into the world to plunder treasure, explore the Turkish countryside, and discover what friendship looks like out on the road.

First of all, kudos to Tony Cliff for the research done for this book. You can tell there was a LOT done, because the details of the period and the location are lovingly rendered. It’s wonderful to look at. Plus all the Turkish characters greet each other with an actual Arabic greeting, “Selam-un Aleykum.” I love that little detail.

Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for road trip stories (which I am), but the locations and set pieces are gorgeous to look at. I remember it took me a long dang time to read this book the first time through because I would just stare at the environments in awe.

The characters Delilah and Selim are charming as heck. Of course, it’s the traditional “hot-head adventurer and the grounded, sensible companion” dynamic. But it’s charming to see these characters and read their banter. The detail of Selim being obsessed with tea is a nice touch. The interest in tea doesn’t play out in major ways in the narrative, but it’s a detail that perfectly encapsulates Selim: a gentle man with a taste for the calm and refined.

Reading this book is like a cup of tea – warm and comforting. It’s a simple adventure story with charming characters. What more could you ask for?

Again, I highly recommend you read this book. It should be easy to get nowadays, and in fact, it has a sequel! I’ll be getting my hands on that soon.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

The Great Witch Artemis: Arledge Comics Announces First Graphic Novel

“Art is amazing… deadpan humor is on point. It read like a cartoon, and I had fun on the ride.” John Horsley, Spoiler Country Podcast.

“The Great Witch Artemis is a fantastically written story that has strong characters, engaging dialogue, and a great sense of adventure. I give this 10/10.” James Kniseley, Paladins Comic.

Arledge Comics returns with their second Kickstarter of 2019: The Great Witch Artemis. After six successful Kickstarter campaigns, ranging from ComixCentral award-winning Alex Priest to first-run anthology Trial Run, the indie comics publisher is preparing to kick-start their first graphic novel, The Great Witch Artemis.

This graphic novel is written by first-time graphic novel writer, Bryce Beal (Gambling the Isles, upcoming My Kingdom for a Panel anthology), illustrated by Scott Malin (Alex Priest, The World’s Worst Bounty Hunter), and edited by Jenn Arledge (Alex Priest, Future Girl). The novel will include 78 black and white pages.

“I’m really excited about this one,” said Jenn Arledge, “It’s really on brand for Arledge Comics, and it represents our growing catalog really well.”

As for what Bryce Beal and Scott Malin think? “TGWA is, to this day, our favorite comic,” the two said, “We’re just two guys who wanted to write something fun, something to make people laugh, and we hope you love this story as much as we do.”

MORE ABOUT THE GREAT WITCH ARTEMIS:

She’s a nobody living in a nothing town. Much as it would suck, she wants to hate magic and go back to her old life as a potato farmer. Few people remember her, anyway. It’s hard to believe this fall from grace started with a sneeze. Confidence destroyed, she’s all but given up. That is, until she meets Emmett, a superfan who will stop at nothing to return her to her former glory.

The Kickstarter for The Great Witch Artemis starts February 22nd (that’s today) and runs until March 15th. Arledge Comics hopes to raise $1,000 during the run of this campaign. Rewards for backers include books, prints, pins and a custom USB flash drive which houses special behind-the-scenes moments from the production of the graphic novel. Stretch goals for this Kickstarter include the following:

$1,500: Backers receive both pins instead of one
$2,000: Postcard Print
$2,500: Sticker set.

Check it out here!

Review Day Tuesday: The Ballad of Pluto

During Genghis Con (yes, that’s its name) last year, I got to meet Roan, the artist behind The Ballad of Pluto. As of this writing, it doesn’t have a webcomic equal. You can only get it in print. That said, volume 1 is out now, and you can get the book wherever Roan makes a convention appearance. (Check his Facebook page for updates on that.)

The Ballad of Pluto is the story of the planets of our solar system as people. So Pluto’s a person, the Moon is a person, etc. In fact, Pluto is a shepherd in the Outer Orbits. And his poor herd keeps getting attacked.

By what? He doesn’t know. But he suspects that whoever attacked his animals has a connection to what made him lose his status as a planet.

Volume 1 is the story of Pluto ‘s adventure into “the Inner Orbits” to get some answers. In this comic, the Inner Orbits are illustrated as a town. Don’t think too hard about how the planets can escape their orbits to congregate in a town and do business.

Part of the charm of reading this comic is seeing how the characters are drawn and fleshed out as a result of the lore. One of the details that made me laugh is that Earth (in the book called Eorde) says, “Let me just check my satellites.” …And she opens a laptop labeled NASA. That’s charming as heck.

Also, I need to give some major props to integrating agender representation, but not in a forced way. See, the Earth’s Moon (Lune, in the book) is vouching for Pluto so he can walk around town unmolested by Mars’ guards. Later, it’s revealed that Lune was once so powerful that they were almost queen of the solar system.

To which Pluto says, “Queen? So are you…?”

And Lune says, “That was a just a title. I have no gender.”

And all Pluto says in reply is, “Oh.” And the story continues.

Agender representation, and the plot doesn’t have to stop to talk about it. That’s how you do it.

I’m interested to see how the Moons of the solar system play in the story – there’s definitely some tension with Lune. They had so much power before the other planets of the solar system became known and joined the Council. So now that Lune is Eorde’s assistant, you get the impression that they’re a tad bitter about it. I want to see how that plays out.

The art, as well, is GORGEOUS. My only complaint is in regards to the lettering. For the most part, it works. Although…

When a character says something in a whisper or as a quip, the words are not in a speech bubble. This is a call-back to manga as an artistic influence, which is fine…usually. But the text is in color. And so is the background. So it can be hard to read that text at times.

The only other critique I have for the book is more meta: the book is in full color, sure. It’s not a standard comic size, but it’s also not magazine-size, either. It’s 44 pages, and that includes covers.

So why is the book $20?

Is this a cost-per-issue to print problem? Is it that the printer who made this book doesn’t specialize in comics? I find that latter question likely. There were pages that either cut off portions of speech balloons, or were not cut to bleed. Thus allowing paper margins to show.

(Roan, I know some comic book printers if you need to find a new guy to print your stuff with. Printers who specialize in comics and don’t charge a boatload to print. Email me!)

It’s a shame, because this is a darn good book to read! I can’t wait to read the rest of the story! But $20 for a 44 page comic is a bit much, even by comic standards. If a book is going to cost $20, it should have double that page amount, if not more.

But that’s one person’s opinion.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.