Yet another case of a web strip becoming successful enough to enter the world of publishing and even making it onto the New York Times bestsellers list. This really is a viable route into the game from the hugely successful and comedic Axe Cop (Dark Horse) to the more literary-minded Sailor Twain or The Mermaid in the Hudson (First Second) by Mark Siegel. I won't reveal too much of the story as a lot of the dramatic tension is dependant on the mystery that unfolds except to say that it cleverly draws on several sea-faring classic fables including the Moby Dick style opening of an experienced sailor reluctantly re-counting his terrible tale.
And while it may not have the scope of Moby Dick, it is a dark, brooding and oppressive tale, a mood enhanced the soft pencil illustrations filled with sea mist and dark cabin corners that, together with the rough paper stock, leaves you checking your fingertips for smudges. In fact, Siegel excels in his rendering of backgrounds which are atmospheric - perfect for conveying the foggy nights at sea - detailed when appropriate and have a good sense of placing the story. Which makes the contrast to his more "cartoon" figure work all the more interesting; large circular eyes, triangular noses and flowing body-language keep the story rooted as a graphic novel to ensure the readers eye doesn't lose a sense of the pace of the story by lingering on the lush backgrounds.
See here for the official website.