Grief Turns To Grit In Delilah S. Dawson’s Sparrowhawk

by Vince Brusio

People do not grow because of a large bank account. They grow because of blows to the head. Obstacles in the road. It is challenges in life that shape your spirit, and in the fantasy/adventure series Sparrowhawk for BOOM! Studios, writer Delilah S. Dawson points to how personal grief for her heroine, Artemesia, teaches her compassion, courage, and how to adjust her moral compass.

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Vince Brusio: Sparrowhawk #1 (AUG181356) begins a story that’s said to be in the vein of Labyrinth and Princeless. Could you elaborate on that comparison? What elements of this story evoke that compare and contrast?

Delilah S. Dawson: All three stories share the same heart: A teen girl who defies expectation and is willing to fight for what she wants. Like Sarah in Labyrinth, Art is pulled into Faerie against her wishes and must find her way, winning friends and battling enemies in her quest to take back what was stolen. Like Princess Adrienne of Princeless, Art is a woman of color who refuses her family's demands and discovers who she was really meant to be, on her own terms.

Vince Brusio: The main character of the story, Artemesia, is an outcast, yes? She is an illegitimate daughter of a naval captain, but this is made worse by the fact that she doesn’t “fit in” with her family. So we’re told that she’s the black sheep. But there’s an old saying in regards to those that are labeled the “black sheep.” When things get “real,” they’re the ones you call. Will we see that kind of revelation play out in Sparrowhawk?

Delilah S. Dawson: That is true about Art. Her stepmother resents her, her father is doting but drowning in drink and debt, her older sister always despised her. The saving grace for Art is her younger stepsister, Caroline, the only person who ever made her feel loved, and who truly saw her. Once she's in Faerie, Art is on her own for the first time and glad for the tomboyish athletic skills she honed while her stepsisters were dancing and playing piano. She quickly proves to be resilient and deadly, when necessary. These skills, which would be startling and unwelcome in London, are what allow her to gain the power and glamor she needs to escape from Faerie. To be honest, this transformation reflects how I felt in my own life as the very skills that caused me grief as a kid helped me flourish as a creative adult.

Vince Brusio: Tell us about the personality of Artemisia. She’s living with a world “that has always hated her.” How does she reconcile that fact in her day-to-day living? What’s her coping mechanisms? What keeps her sane (if she is)? What acts as her moral compass? How does she live?

Delilah S. Dawson: Art's compass is the love of her stepsister Caroline, and her coping mechanism is escape. When she's unwanted around the manse, she goes riding in the forest on her sister's old pony, Traveler, reads the discarded books in the attic, and engages in play fights with the village boys. She rejects those who rejected her and opts out of their life whenever she can, seeking her own entertainment. I liked the contrast with Alice's life in Alice in Wonderland, where Alice is coddled and bored and her tumble into Wonderland is a journey of almost idle pleasure. Art's descent takes her to a dark place, and instead of tea cakes and parties, she must fight her way out with a sword. Few creatures remain sane in this version of Faerie! 

Vince Brusio: If we were to look for some contemporary references, who would be a go-to model for Artemisia? Let’s say we’re casting the Sparrowhawk movie. Who’s getting an email to show up for a script reading? What actress first gets tapped for the lead role, and why?

Delilah S. Dawson: After her turn as Enfys Nest in Solo: A Star Wars Story, I'd love to see Erin Kellyman's take on Art. For Crispin the Wolpertinger, David Tennant. For the Beast of Dean, Brendan Gleeson. For Warren, Tom Holland.

Vince Brusio: There are four preview pages for the book alongside its listing in the August PREVIEWS catalog. What can you tell us about the sequence of events in this preview, and how does it relate to the story in issue #1 of Sparrowhawk?

Delilah S. Dawson: The preview pages take place in Issue #1, the moment Art lands in Faerie. Matias Basla has created a whole new world here, showing Art's confusion as she faces a dark and twisted place ruled by magic and mayhem, so different from the pastel, pastoral, pretty life Art has been forced to live alongside back home in England. Art isn't sure if she's hearing voices or receiving aid from an unknown source, and she ends up meeting her guide, Crispin the Wolpertinger, an unreliable Giles to her Buffy. The deal she strikes with him saves her life — while also taking away that which she holds most dear.

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Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.

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