photo & text by nacrowe
a 17th-century SAILOR is abandoned at SEA on an EFFECTIVE DEATH SENTENCE when he comes in contact with a MERMAID, an ALLURING harbinger of his own impending DEMISE. JULIA GFRÖRER's AFFECTING graphic novel BLACK IS THE COLOR (FANTAGRAPHICS, 2013) explores the SEDUCTIVE possibilities equated with DEATH and one's own MORTALITY.
for the ship's captain, faced with dwindling supplies, the CRUEL solution of abandoning two of his crew to their DOOM at SEA is an easy decision made on purely UTILITARIAN LOGIC. their SACRIFICE will effectively allow others to live. such are the HARSH REALITIES of life on the water. lost alone at SEA on a dinghy (his partner died shortly thereafter to the elements), the SAILOR is confronted by a MERMAID who visits him at nighttime and eventually seduces him shortly before his DEATH. somewhere else the ship he left catches fire from lightning killing all on board. what is INTRIGUING is not the narrative of all this DESTRUCTION itself, but the BLASE, JADED manner in which a gaggle of MERMAIDS discuss the victims and their IMPENDING DOOM. they treat the victims at a distance and talk of them almost as if they were part of a police lineup, discussing their physical features and their relative value to them based on such. this is an INVERSION of how SAILORS are portrayed in literature speaking of SIRENS and their SEDUCTIVE PROWESS. here the victimized SAILORS are just potential trysts to be used and discarded. rinse and repeat.
this dynamic seems to be a METAPHOR of both the UNFORGIVING NATURE of the PHYSICAL WORLD and its ABSOLUTE INDIFFERENCE to the collective efforts, trials and tribulations of humanity. the MERMAIDS in this narrative represent that sense of DETACHMENT, both PHYSICAL and EMOTIONAL, of the NATURAL ORDER from the needs of mankind. by the example of the lost SAILOR at SEA making love to MERMAID, we see that such distance is truly only traversed in the throngs of passing along into another plane of existence, of departing the NATURAL REALM in DEATH. the REAL INTIMACY is the reclaiming of one's physical remains back into the grip of NATURE and utilized to her own ends in the NEVER-ENDING chain system of atoms being REPURPOSED, REORGANIZED and RE-CONTEXTUALIZED in PERPETUITY. the idea that we are not separate from NATURE, but a manifestation of it. too often mankind identifies itself in contrast to the ENVIRONMENT and its processes, but such is SHORT-SIDED and WRONG. NATURE is always in control and back to her embrace we will inevitably return, on her terms not ours, much like the RUINOUS and DESTRUCTIVE AMOROUS advances of a MERMAID.
BLACK IS THE COLOR is quite the achievement. even in this translated version (original is in FRENCH), the narrative implications of the theme surrounding DEATH is PROFOUND and deeply THOUGHT-PROVOKING. definitely worth checking out.