Thursday, February 7, 2013

NEW BOOKS: Sailor Twain - Mark Siegel

I read this book the beginning of last month having only learned of its existence around Christmas when it was named one of the Best Books of 2012. Sailor Twain was published in October last year and for the past four months has been celebrated by professional reviewers, bloggers and graphic novel fans all over the world. I feel that with so much well deserved attention for this marvelous and singular graphic novel that anything I might have to offer would be like plopping ketchup on the world's most perfect steak. Instead I'll give the most bare bones summary and allow you to get lost in the artwork.

The story takes place in nineteenth century upstate New York and incorporates all sorts of legends and history about the Hudson River, a brief overview of the passenger steamship business, mythology both old and new about mermaids and sirens, and -- probably my favorite part -- displays an obvious love for books and book collecting.

That's it from me. Let Mark Siegel's evocative charcoal drawings mesmerize you as they did me. No doubt you, too, will find yourself under the magical spell of this nameless mermaid, headed against your will to your local bookstore where you will demand a copy of Sailor Twain be produced at once. You'll have to own a copy. It's a beautiful book both as an object and a story, one I know I'll hang onto for a very long time.


  1. I'm not a great one for graphic novels, but you are a very complelling fellow John - cheers mate.

    1. I like to think that this post is like a movie trailer in comic strip format. Most graphic novels these days are like movies on paper anyway. I see lots of storyboarding technique in them - camera angles, lighting, even special effects all done with drawing. I picked the most enticing scenes and tried to get a mix of pages with dialogue, "voiceover", and visuals only. I was enthralled by this book. One other thing - it's over 400 pages long. I read/viewed it in two quick days. You can't say that about a 400 page novel unless you're one of those speedreading wizzes who is really only scanning the book not truly reading it.

  2. John, I'll read anything that's got illustrations, graphics, and speech bubbles in it. I have read very few graphic novels and so far I haven't cared much for the (revolutionary) artworks. I guess it takes getting used to, especially if you have spent half your life reading Golden and Silver age comic-books as I have.