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Black Is The Color
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Black Is The Color

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  252 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Black is the Color begins with a 17th-century sailor abandoned at sea by his shipmates, and as it progresses he endures, and eventually succumbs to, both his lingering death sentence and the advances of a cruel and amorous mermaid. The narrative also explores the experiences of the loved ones he leaves behind, on his ship and at home on land, as well as of the mermaids who ...more
Paperback, 72 pages
Published December 20th 2013 by Fantagraphics (first published September 10th 2013)
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Comics & Graphic Novels by Women
355th out of 622 books — 692 voters
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Women for 2016
3rd out of 47 books — 5 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 611)
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Sam Quixote
Oct 01, 2014 Sam Quixote rated it liked it
A sailor is abandoned at sea, left to die. A mermaid appears and the two share an intense, doomed romance as the sailor’s life dwindles away.

The sailor/mermaid story has been told and retold for centuries but writer/artist Julia Gfrorer gives it a twist by making her characters talk like 21st century people, though the book is set in the 17th century! The mermaids in particular talk like hipster musicians. During a storm, a small group of them gather to watch a ship sink from a distance, talking
Derek Parker
Jul 26, 2015 Derek Parker rated it really liked it
An interesting short work, first appearing as a webcomic on Study Group Comics. The art has a straightforward yet slightly rough look, giving the comic the feel of a folk tale or old yarn. The artist's choice to work in a consistent six-panel page layout underscores this. I like the idea of mermaids that are contemporary sounding -- discussing music and asshole mermen boyfriends -- although that's not the direction this narrative takes. It's about a sailor cast out to sea and the slow process of ...more
Nov 04, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Creepy story of a sailor who is thrown off his ship after rations become too low. Really weird....
Oct 27, 2014 Ariel rated it liked it
Shelves: gn
I was very excited for this to come out.

The artwork is really lovely, but I wasn't particularly impressed by the execution of the 'story," which is about a doomed love affair between a stranded sailor as he dies, and a mermaid. Sounds awesome, right? Something about the execution, though, that I can't quite put my finger on.

For whatever reason, as I was writing this, I thought I might want to check it out again. So I bumped it up from 2 stars to 3.

It was interesting, and I recommend it... as i
David Schaafsma
Jul 03, 2015 David Schaafsma rated it really liked it
Shelves: gn-women
Gfrorer says her name rhymes with "despair" and her "heart is black as a jet". She also says her book "is dedicated to Dylan, to Matthew, and to everyone who left me for dead." I guess that's where the black heart comes from, eh?

Her book is a beautifully, hauntingly rendered story, like an old sea tale, about a mermaid and a dying sailor, except the mermaids all talk as if they are contemporary twenty-something women, which is the only--but significantly not blackhearted--comic aspect of this t
Apr 03, 2014 Nomes rated it really liked it
Weird... but very, very cool
Damian Murphy
Dec 08, 2013 Damian Murphy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is perhaps the best little comic I have read in years. There is a quality which was known to Longinus as sublimity, Arthur Machen called it ecstasy, I know it as mystery. This book is suffused with it. It is very short, taking no longer then a single sitting to read. The images and words found herein trace routes through the soul that are forbidden in polite society (as does all true poetry). The story blends perfectly the mythical and the wretched, the fantastic and the common. I cannot mo ...more
Feb 09, 2016 Troy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics, read-in-2016
I've been digging through my comics, re-reading past favorites. This is one.

Gfrörer and I knew each other through LiveJournal (hahahaha) back in the day, and I've been following her work ever since. She started out a fantastic cartoonist and has only gotten better.

This particular comic (which I thought I had lost, and which I had lost in its original self-published form) is typical for Gfrörer, that is, dark, sexual, despairing, and occupied by death. She's not a Goth, but ok, maybe a sumptuous
Apr 18, 2014 Juju rated it really liked it
This was cool and weird, though not quite what I was expecting. A dying sailor meets mermaid tale. My favorite bit was the hipster mermaids underwater chatting about their latest music project. No joke. I could've read a whole other book of just the hipster mermaids hanging out. You can read the whole thing online here:

Jun 19, 2014 TinHouseBooks rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-we-love
Molly Dickinson (Editorial Intern, Tin House Magazine): I can’t say my repertoire of comic books/graphic novels is very extensive, but a copy of Julia Gfrörer’s Black Is the Color made it into my hands recently. Gfrörer manages an exquisite balance between heavy plot and slight instances of snarky humor. The limited dialogue allows the illustrations to speak for themselves: they are strikingly full of movement and depth. Though the characters use words sparingly they are accessible and relatable ...more
Daniel Elkin
Mar 03, 2014 Daniel Elkin rated it it was amazing
Black is the Color undulates like the ocean in your nightmares – the swells providing a rhythmic back-beat to all the subconscious horrors your brain amasses during the day – telling you something you know but can't actually face, quietly reminding you of your mortality, your isolation, and the inevitable sense of loss all things eventually breed. While dragging its fingers softly across your lips to comfort, it confronts you with the stark truth that everyone and everything is eventuality subsu ...more
Michael Camilleri
perfect comics storytelling. great use of the unique timing or space in a story that comics can achieve. Another review used the phrase 'snarky humour'. which are the perfect words for the tone. And sad and dark and silent. stumbled across this at study group comics and became an instant fan; I have a literary crush on the snarky gfrorer.
Emilia P
Jun 28, 2015 Emilia P rated it liked it
Shelves: comic-books
Indie sea comix at their indie sea comix-est. Dramatic artwork! Picaresque sailor dudes! Spooky love stories! It's all here, and it's lovely and creepy, and it's pretty good, but it treads no new ground. A quick read with a Decemberists soundtrack. :)
Jun 26, 2014 Kate rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
Really liked this slight tale of a man set adrift from his ship and the mermaid who finds him but can't quite bring herself to save him. Maybe it wouldn't be cool enough. I really admire Gfrorer's scratchy ink drawings and can't wait to see more from her.
May 06, 2014 Dru rated it really liked it
Shelves: a-graphic-novel
Captures some amazing moments in the midst of shipwrecks and men overboard. Romantic moments, moments between friends, mermaids gossiping about cute sailors, and a few others scenes are what makes this such a great, beautiful book.
Rachel Parent
Oct 05, 2015 Rachel Parent rated it it was amazing
What a great mermaid/sailor story and a beautiful graphic novel. I could smell the salt air and feel the sense of loss and longing, but this take on the folklore theme felt fresh and new. Really loved it.
Daneil Newcomb
Absolutely wonderful. The line art is gorgeous and the mermaids are so my aesthetic (beautiful and dangerous). I also love the material the graphic novel is printed on (not glossy!)
Jun 03, 2014 Ula rated it liked it
A wonderful, beautiful and dark short story about a man exiled to sea. I'd give it 4 stars if it was longer. It felt like a teaser for a bigger story.
Feb 28, 2014 D.J. rated it really liked it
Lovely art and a pitch black dark story still somehow filled with something that is almost warmth...I think. Or it's evil. Either way, it is a terrific book.
Paul Zink
Feb 18, 2014 Paul Zink rated it really liked it
Simple. Mysterious. "That's what I like about sailors. You appreciate mystery. You believe in things you can't understand."
Jan 08, 2014 Rin rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 18, 2014 Hugo rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Novela gráfica corta, con una historia bastante rara y un arte que le acompaña bien.
Liz Yerby
Feb 03, 2016 Liz Yerby rated it it was amazing
julia's linework is always on point. this story was short but poignant.
Seconding another one-star review I just saw -- this feels pointless.
Aug 08, 2014 James rated it really liked it
A quick, yet nice read with beautiful illustrations
Katie Jones
Lovely art work but pointless story...
Jul 26, 2014 Katie rated it really liked it
A somber and beautiful graphic novel. Despite the gloominess of the tale, I liked it. Plus, mermaids. Mermaids all over!
Jun 11, 2014 Sean rated it really liked it
A brief enigmatic tale of abandoned sailors and narcissistic mermaids, rendered in a fine ink line.
Jan 31, 2014 Tony rated it liked it
Shelves: comic
Jul 03, 2014 Jane rated it liked it
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