Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel has caught my eye for awhile. One, because it was recommended by the 2014 Best American Comics and two, because I thought it was about Mark Twain, one of my favorite writers. Alas, the second is not quite true. There’s only a vague reference to Twain and two creepy boys are allusions to Huck and Tom.
So what’s it about? Well it’s centered on a steamship that plys the Hudson river, captained by a Twain and owned by a Frenchmen. The Frenchmen is stereotypical in that he’s a womanizer and somewhat graphically so. The main thrust of the story begins when Twain rescues a mermaid. A mermaid in the Hudson you ask? Why yes. Apparently she convinced her sisters to help her break sailors hearts so her father, the sea god, exiled them to freshwater rivers. This sister was sent to the Hudson because she was the instigator. (Frankly, if I were exiled to the Hudson instead of the Rhine or the Danube, I’d be pissed too). And so she exacts her revenge by luring people on the river to their deaths. I won’t say why I know this, it’s sort of a plot point, but apparently mermaids aren’t selective when it comes to gender. It appears women are at risk to the mermaids song.
What happens if I hear the mermaid’s song? Well according to this lore, you need to give your heart to seven lovers. And don’t make her mad whatever you do. She’ll only stalk you and sing her song at full volume whenever you can. Words to live by, dear reader.
Sarcasm aside, I was disappointed in the plot. I wasn’t connected to any of the characters and the plot didn’t grab me. But that didn’t make it any less of an interesting read. It was entertaining and the drawings were superb. The detail and shadowing were among the best I’ve seen. So from an art standpoint this is a home run.