Sailor Twain, or The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel
Writer/Illustrator: Mark Siegel
Published by First Second in 2012
Companion website/blog: sailortwain.com
The drawings are the thing that hits you first in reading Mark Siegel's remarkable graphic novel, Sailor Twain. They are delicate black & white sketches that change in intensity and depth depending upon the story. Faces, in particular, have a sad, ruefull style to them with large eyes and focused gaze. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
Sailor Twain is a graphic novel set in the late 1800's generally on a steamboat that plys the Hudson River. It is the story of a ship captain who rescues a wounded mermaid. This act of kindness sets in motion a plot that includes the amorous escapades of the ships owner, an occult author and the final history of a sea-god's curse. It is a spectacular graphic novel that takes the genre into new realms and compels the reader to keep reading chapter after chapter.
Reading much like a silent film would on the screen, Sailor Twain is also an erotic adventure that keeps the reader guessing. There is often a haunted quality to the scenes, especially in the second half of the novel as the plot becomes increasingly complex and multi-layered.
The character of Sailor Twain is beautifully drawn with a doleful expression that reminds one of the early portraits of Proust. But it is in the depiction of women that the author excels. From kitchen maids to upper class wives to mermaids, Siegel captures each unique female face and expression perfectly. The charcoal strokes of his sketches are remarkably varied and can be quite subtle.
I highly recommend Sailor Twain. It is one of those graphic novels that extends the genre and in a sense stands on its own as a unique vision of a world that is both mysterious and moving at the same time.
Check the author's website for more info on Sailor Twain. Try your local bookstore or comic store as well.