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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel

Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudsonis one of the best comics I've read in a long time; it is a beautiful, haunting story that takes place on the Hudson River in the 1880s.  Elijah Twain (no relation, as he has to explain to all his passengers) is the captain of a steamboat who falls under the spell of a mermaid -- a mermaid who may have been preying on travelers up and down the river, including the owner of the steamboat. Siegel draws on mythology, local history, geography, and 19th century intellectual culture to create a lovely, heartbreaking tale that never becomes insipid.

The art, too, is outstanding.  Rather than use pencils and ink, Siegel illustrated the images with charcoal, allowing him to create both sharp lines and sinuous, shadowy curves; he also uses the blurring and smudges to great effect.  The resulting images are both sensuous and endearing, and add greatly to the fairy-tale feel.  I devoured this book in a day, and I want more.

(The website is worth a visit, too.)

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