GN 6. The Clarence Principle by Fehed Said. Illustrated by Shari Chankhamma. 224 p. Published May 2007.
Clarence, left behind by Elissa, decides that before he can catch up there is something he must do. He commits suicide.
Clarence wakes in a bathtub. As he gets up pondering the fate of suicides, he finds a message scrawled on the bathroom mirror, “Find me”. Thus begins Clarence’s surreal adventure through the underworld. Clarence passes through the door and encounters the Toll Booth Man. But the Toll Booth Man informs Clarence that he shouldn’t be there, and threatens him with the knowledge that the dead can die again. Clarence, knowing that he must find whomever left him the message, clobbers the Toll Booth Man and runs.
Further down the path he finds a man hanging from a moon. The Man on the Moon has been trying to kill himself again for nearly 250 years, but has been – as of yet – unsuccesful. Because while the dead can die, they don’t know how. Clarence makes a deal with the Man on the Moon; if Clarence can find a way for him to die, the Man will tell him the way out of this land.
Clarence meets a series of unfortunate characters and trials on his quest to find a way to kill the dead. Clarence makes a dear sacrafice, but once he has what could be the answer, the Man on the Moon directs him further down the path. There he meets Blossom and participates in a strange play. Soon enough it becomes obvious to the inhabitants of this world that something has gone wrong. Clarence has begun to tip the fate of those around him, and Death herself must step in to help Clarence find the proper path and who has been leaving him messages.
The Clarence Principle is a strange book covering a dark topic. Yet every encounter along Clarence’s journey proves to be deeply invested with meaning. By the end of the novel the truth of Clarence’s fate and the decisions he make are all too human. Said has developed a truly touching story of discovery and loss. Some of the concepts and feelings conveyed here are quite complex and took a second reading to truly grasp. While The Clarence Principle doesn’t really make an effort to stand out, the amount of time and care put into its creation is abundantly clear.
As part of the Graphic Novels Challenge, this post is cross-blogged here.
Rating: 3 out of 5