A Slice of Fried Gold

#11 - Good-bye, Chunky Rice by Craig Thompson

Sunday, May 11, 2008

#11 - Good-Bye, Chunky Rice by Craig Thompson

"You should find where you belong."

Fairly recently, I re-read Craig Thompson's incredible graphic novel Blankets and decided that I had to seek out other works that he had done. First on the list was Thompson's debut, Good-bye, Chunky Rice. This of course had to happen not only because it was another Thompson work, but also because it was a Harvey Award winner itself and none other than Alan Moore raved about it.

Alan Moore.

The man who never comes out and speaks about anything, the wild recluse of comics, raved about it.

That's about as good a recommendation as you can get within the graphic novel world.

No less, it isn't what Alan Moore thinks about this, it's what I think because this is my show, not Alan Moore's (unless he wants to take over, and in that case he can feel free to do so). My thoughts? I think it's another very good representation of the power that graphical narratives can offer to the world, as this story beautifully tells about the power of friendship, loneliness, and the nagging feeling that there is something else out there in the world.

It's a story about a turtle named Chunky Rice, and his best friend named Dandele (she's a deer mouse) in particular, but there is also an incredibly touching story within it about a longshoresman named Solomon and the bird he is nursing back to health named Merle. Back to the point, even though Chunky's life is very good with Dandele and his current situation, Chunky has an overwhelming lack of a sense of belonging. To find that, he abandons his happy and comfortable life to pursue that dream.

Through all of the characters, Thompson delves into complexities of friendship and the meaning of life in very subtle and intriguing ways. Once again, not only does he work very well as a writer, but he also excels artistically, both creating a very visually interesting and stylish world but also once again absolutely nailing the layouts. I can't get enough of his work to be honest.

However, it is not all roses in this review. This story is definitely very short and after you finish it you're left with a serious sense of "well, that was good, but is that it?!" You definitely are left wanting more, and if you are a person looking for completion or a real unifying story, this is not the place to get one. Where it excels is the slice of life that it cuts out for us of this group of people's lives, but it is definitely not without flaws.

So overall, I would recommend this, but it isn't a 100% recommend for everyone. If you're looking to branch into graphic novels, this would be a good one to start with (although I'd definitely go with Blankets over this). Due to some of the flaws that I gleaned from the story (and they may be shaken out on re-reads) though, it definitely does not make it into the class of "instant classics," but it definitely stands out as a great debut and another excellent addition to Craig Thompson's very solid library of works.


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