Glow-In-The-Dark, Holofoil, Chromium and Die-Cut – Comics In The Nineties Weren’t All Bad – Good-Bye, Chunky Rice

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618VFHTG4YL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The nineties get a lot of flack nowadays from comic fans, and some of it is very well deserved. Many things happened in the nineties that made it a very dark decade for the comic industry, many things we would like to forget happened at all, and some things we just can’t seem to let go of. And pouches, so very many pouches.

For as many reasons as there are to speak in hushed tones when referring to comics in that rather fateful decade, there are many more reasons to shout at the sky in praise. Each Tuesday I discuss the many things that made that decade truly a great time to be a fan. This week, I bring you another reason the nineties weren’t all bad.

Craig Thompson’s Good-Bye, Chunky Rice.

Craig Thompson is a well known and revered creator, mostly for his award winning coming-of-age autobiography, Blankets, published in 2003. Blankets deserves all of the accolades it receives, because it is a poignant and powerful tale, but we probably wouldn’t have it at all if not for this little graphic novella published in 1999.

738351Good-Bye, Chunky Rice is many things. It is a story of life moving on around us, of loneliness, of striving to find our place in the world. It is a story about saying goodbye, about endings and new beginnings. But mostly, it is at once both a heartwarming and heartbreaking story about friendship, love, and loss.  And I mean heartbreaking. With anthropomorphic animals to take a bit of the sting away.

Good-Bye, Chunky Rice is the tale of two friends, a turtle named Chunky Rice, and his deer mouse chum Dandel. Chunky, realizing he carries his home on his back decides he must have been born to travel, but that means he has to leave Dandel behind. Chunky meets a man and his bird, Merle, who keeps plucking his own feathers. They bring Chunky to a boat where he travels with Chuck, his wife, and conjoined twins Livonia and Ruth.

chunkyriceThere is so much about this book to love. The relationship between Dandel and Chunky is heartwarming, even when they are five thousand miles apart their friendship doesn’t sway. Dandel sends Chunky messages that say “I miss you.” in little corked bottles tossed out to sea. Even though they are cute little animals, their love feels genuine and strong, their bond truly unbreakable even by time itself.

This short book doesn’t quite have the maturity or level of talent of his later works, but it is still a phenomenal, tear-jerking read. It is so easy to relate to the characters, their stories are so universal in their basic nature. Good-Bye, Chunky Rice just gets in your head, and occupies it for long after you’ve turned the last page.

The book has even inspired song, with musician Bill LePage‘s There is no good-bye, Chunky Rice being as haunting and heartbreaking as the story it’s based on. He’s written an accompanying soundtrack that fits the tone of the book perfectly.

Thompson would go on to awards and acclaim with Blankets, Carnet de Voyage, and his most recent, Habibi, all praised with good reason, but this is where it all started, with a sad story about a turtle and a mouse, and this book is one more reason it was awesome being a comic fan in the nineties. Next week, I’ll bring you another.

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