Monday, May 11, 2020

Back into the Hudson with Sailor Twain

[originally published in la Vie Sirene June 2013]

A Mermaid's Review 
by Micah Moore of the Mermaid Studio 

How can one expect an objective review of a book containing mermaids from someone who is obsessed with them? The answer is: you can't. The review in a nutshell is: Sailor Twain or The Mermaid in the Hudson is a MUST READ.

Mermaids, in Sailor Twain, are used to symbolize obsessions or addictions that divert our focus from our true course in life. Sailor Twain or The Mermaid in the Hudson highlights the point that obsessions, like mermaids, can be simultaneously inauspicious and propitious.

With that being said…
The elements other than mermaids that make Sailor Twain a necessity for one's bookshelf are mystery, romance, intrigue, eroticism, flashbacks, love, lust, suspense, obsession, desire, as well as ideas on marriage, racism, sexism and theology.

Sailor Twain is a tale primarily about a steamboat ship captain whose obsessions alter his life course forever. Its complex story line involves a myriad of dualities surrounding most of the characters, themes explored and the Hudson River upon which the tale takes place.

Set in 1887 on the Hudson River, infused into the story line are traces of Greek mythology, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe and Ernest Hemingway. The main characters in the novel are:
  • Sailor Twain, the honorable steamboat captain 
  • South, the seductive mermaid 
  • Dieudonné Lafayette, a French nobleman, who also happens to be the ship owner’s lecherous brother 
  • C. G. Beaverton, a reclusive author who is later revealed in the book

Sailor Twain began as a serialized web comic, which the author, Mark Siegel, wrote on his commute between his home in the Hudson River Valley and his office in New York City. In fact, you can currently sample the first few chapters online by clicking here.

The author’s use of charcoal drawings, rather than a traditional medium of graphic novel rendering, lends itself to the mysterious mood of the book. Sailor Twain was drawn in a stylized form of mainly black and white, serving to highlight his highly ethical nature. Dieudonné, on the other hand, was formed in shades of grey, emphasizing his willingness to blur the lines of morality. To learn about the drawing process he used for the book, view the video below.

Another fascinating piece of Sailor Twain involves its use of historical topographical maps on its title pages. Siegel’s research involving 19th century maps led to an exhibit at the New York Public Library, “Sailor Twain’s New York,” featuring elements used in the making of Sailor Twain.

My advice is: get a copy of Sailor Twain for yourself. You will read it countless times. If you don’t want to take a mermaid’s word for it, consider that Sailor Twain was on both The New York Times’ list of best-selling graphic novels and The Washington Post’s Top 10 graphic novel/comic for 2012. Realize, however, that Sailor Twain is not considered a book for children due to its use of profanity and mature themes and images.

The Mermaid Studio offers mermaid-themed artwork created by talented artists plus info on where to find mermaids worldwide
(plus they have a really cool website)