written by Mark Siegel
Mark Siegel spent several years crafting Sailor Twain as a webcomic, and that commitment to this labor of love shines through on every black-and-white page of this magical novel. Siegel’s charcoal drawings are a treat throughout, bringing to life a lost era for a mythical story of love, loss, mystery, and longing. The backgrounds are sumptuous and expansive. Through them, Siegel captures 19th-century New York in all its glory, as well as its waterways, its incredible ships, its buildings and their interiors, and layered carefully on top of it all, its people and their costumes.
There are twists and turns, and Siegel’s brilliant storytelling and artwork propel them all effortlessly along, culminating in surprising yet immensely satisfying conclusions. As the book begins, we meet Elijah Twain, captain of The Lorelei. The year is 1887, and the Industrial Revolution is in full sway. As the world is propelling headlong into the future, Twain becomes embroiled in a mystery from the ages when he rescues, and then tends to, a mermaid in the Hudson.
The mermaid in turn becomes Twain’s muse, a parallel story involving the ship’s owner, the lurid Lafayette, as well as missing author C.G. Beaverton, ensues. Things become complicated, and intricately layered, and revealing too much would spoil some of the wonderful surprises in store for readers. Suffice to say: It’s a story to get lost in, to wander in for hours at a time, and its rewards are many.
Mermaids and sirens are allegories for any of the obsessions and addictions that drag us down, that take root in our minds and don’t let go, and Siegel utilizes that theme in a multitude of ways, sometimes comic, sometimes dark and tragic. But always grippingly. Featuring adult language and sexual situations, Sailor Twain is not a mermaid story for children, but it is one for the ages.