Character being pulled into the turbulent ocean by blue hands. From "The Sea in You" by Jessi Sharon. Image: Iron Circus Comics.

Iron Circus Launches Crowdfunding Campaign for Dark ‘Little Mermaid’ Retelling

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Though MerMay ended yesterday, it’s never too late to support independent artists creating beautiful mermaid-related stories and art. Together with artist/writer Jessi Sharon, Iron Circus Comics and its founder C. Spike Trotman announced the launch of a crowdfunding campaign for the young adult graphic novel The Sea in You. While Sheron is best known for illustrating Monster High and Ever After books for Little Brown and Princeless for Action Lab Comics, some may recognize elements of the story as she slowly released it on WebToon in 87 chapters between January 2020 and October 2021.

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"The Sea in You" by Jessi Sheron cover with a person underwater with a mer-person below them. Image: Iron Circus Comics.
(Iron Circus Comics)

The official synopsis reads:

IN THE SEA IN YOU, Corinth was just trying to clean up the beach; she never expected to meet a mermaid, let alone be nearly drowned by one. But before long Corinth and mermaid Skylla grow closer through a cautious exchange of stories, gifts, jokes, and sign language. Mermaids, it turns out, eat people — but however terrifying Skylla may look, she’s a little younger, a little smaller, and perhaps a little too soft for all that.

Bewitched by Corinth and their growing bond, she learns about all the best things in life on land: books, burgers, donuts, and this strange chattering human sound called laughter. But a storm is brewing – both at sea and in Corinth’s increasingly dangerous relationship with her obsessively jealous boyfriend – and a magical bargain may be the only thing that can save her, at a tremendous cost. 

Blue mermaid showing sharp fangs. From "The Sea in You" by Jessi Sharon. Image: Iron Circus Comics.

Described as a whimsical yet dark retelling of The Little Mermaid, the story features merm-people that look closer to the sirens from myth and legend rather than the child-friendly Disney version. Without spoiling too much, the mature subject matter and themes remain in conversation with the greater legacy of Hans Christian Andersen’s original story (and its influence, Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué’s Undine).

Goals and release date

Blue mermaid diving into the ocean at sunset. From "The Sea in You" by Jessi Sharon. Image: Iron Circus Comics.

Iron Circus Comics is no stranger to successful and fully-realized crowdfunding campaigns. The Sea in You is their third campaign in 2022 alone. (The other two included The Poorcraft Cookbook and Letters for Lucardo: The Silent Lord.) To get this graphic novel published, they need to raise $10,000 by June 27. If you’re looking to support queer stories from an independent seller that’s always been about it (“it” meaning the representation of LGBTQ+ stories, not as an afterthought), then this is your chance to be a part of this campaign.

In a press release, Trotman stated, “The Sea in You is a perfect Iron Circus title. Offbeat, totally unique, and a recentering and reimagining of themes it’s too easy to consider well-trodden territory that no longer holds any surprises for the reader. I can’t wait until kids get their hands on this.”

The Sea in You will release in January 2023. The rewards are pretty straightforward and book-focused. For $8, you can buy a DRM-free PDF copy, and for $15 (before accounting for shipping), you can get a digital and physical copy. Though this is a complete story and Sheron’s already announced a sequel coming, the funding of this campaign will help hype people up for book two, too!

(image: Iron Circus Comics)

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Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.