Aug 15 2012 12:00pm

A Gallery of Favorite Mermaids

Detail from Herbert James Draper’s ’Ulysses and the Sirens’

In honor of Sea Monster Week and the impending release of Mark Siegel’s mermaid-centric graphic novel, Sailor Twain, (look for a sneak peek of it later today) the author is sharing some of his favorite mermaids with you! Take it away, Mark:

First off some classics. Herbert James Draper’s “Ulysses and the Sirens.” He really, really, really wanted to hear that song of theirs. But the diving down to his doom part, not so much.


Here’s the great Edward Burnes-Jones pre-Raphaelite painting “Depths of the Sea,” done in 1887 (the year in which Sailor Twain unfolds.)


Also from the same year (what is it with ’87 and sea maidens?) is Arnold Böcklin’s “Calm Sea.” I like her because she’s like a big tuna, not exactly graceful or nubile.


With Marc Chagall’s “Sirène au poète” we see a mermaid have an other effect: as a poet’s muse. She may be trouble, but she’s inspiring.


Norman Rockwell painted one, too. If this one is a muse, she’s been snagged and crated, and is off to the fish market. Did Mr. Rockwell feel guilty of the same?


There are countless mermaids in novels. One of my favorites is Gene Wolfe’s Seawrack in his Books of the Short Sun. Like my South in Sailor Twain, she has an unpronounceable name.


A little-know gem among B-movies, Mermaid Chronicles, Part 1: She Creatures is far and away my favorite mermaid movie. Rufus Sewell and Carla Gugino shine, it’s tightly plotted, and again, it’s set in or around the year 1887. Neither Disney nor Darryl “Splash” Hannah can touch it.


The great picture book illustrator and comics author LeUyen Pham created this one called “Shino.”


I have a terrible soft spot for Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. And he bashes a mean mermaid mama.


As I was serializing Sailor Twain as a webcomic, I regularly got fan art. This one puts me to shame and I love it—by Jake Wyatt:

Any other favorites? Tell me below!

Mark Siegel is an author and illustrator. His other works include Seadogs, Long Night Moon and others. He is the editorial director of First Second Books. Check out his website here.

Disclaimer: Mark Siegel is a Macmillan employee.

1. Lektu

'nuf said.
3. sofrina
"she creature" is a great movie. honestly, i'm still partial to disney's "little mermaid," ariel. and there's a great kids book series, "the tale of emily windsnap." later editions are repackaged, but the original is much prettier. and this was a great retelling of the original story. that movie "aquamarine" was cute kid stuff. based on the cover art, i've been meaning to pick up this trilogy.

wasn't there an episode of "fantasy island" where a man got to spend the weekend with a red-haired mermaid until finally his wife decided to fight for him and he had to choose? circa 1981..?
Shelly wb
6. shellywb
And there's the classic horror manga, The Mermaid Saga, of which Mermaid's Forest is the first. Eating their flesh makes you immortal, but it's rarely the gift people imagine it to be.
7. MarkSiegel
Oh, great references, thanks all!
8. Ctaylor
John William Waterhouse, Michael Parkes, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, Chris Sanders has some nice mermaid art too.
9. Gerry__Quinn
I love the mer-cat in 'Shino'.
Ryan Buller
10. tidfisk
Any list with Hellboy AND Gene Wolfe is a good list!!
11. Lezlie.
I love Sulamith Wulfing's classic illos of The Little Mermaid. she captures the winsome saddness of the tale so well.
12. RubyRed
David Delamare! His mermaids and fairies are fabulous. I don't think there are any prints available of his creepier mermaids, but they're all wonderful (even the sweet ones).
Cynthia Ahmar
13. tenkuu
Nevermind Disney, how can you not include this mermaid.

And you should also mention the TV series Ocean Girl, which, while it didn't feature a mermaid per se, did feature a girl who basically lives mostly in the water.
jazz tigan
14. tredeger
Michael Kaluta has always drawn lovely mermaids. Some can be seen here:
15. Kylara
There's this good mermaid book I read half of then had to return to the library. It takes place in France roughly 1600s and they find a mermaid creature and study it for science. And the mermaid is of course animalistic but somewhat sentient and it's all very sad. I liked it but it was a very heavy read. Probably why I couldn't finish it in time. It's called the Moon and the Sun by Vonda McIntyre
16. CassR
"The Last Baltic Mermaid" ( has been my favourite for several years now, as has Koi Mermaid (

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