A number of years ago I discovered an artist who goes under the pseudonym Mr Clement. She is a London based illustrator and designer whos work is largely focused around a number of characters she has created within their own diegesis. These characters feature throughout Mr Clement’s work, her main protagonist being a rabbit in a space suit called Astrolapin. The repetitive use of characters and the limited subject matter of Mr Clement’s work helps to create a body of work which is consistent and a very individual in style.
I first discovered Astrolapin in Mr Clement’s beautiful and melancholy comic “A Gorgeous Harbour”. The story is largely silent. Their are moments within the story which do contain text, these moments however are presented in an interesting manner which keeps the reader guessing. The characters are presented with empty speech bubbles on one side of the page while the text is printed on the reverse of the page.
There are a number of aspects which drew me to Mr Clement’s work. I love the clean and deceptively simple line drawing illustrations. Mr Clement appears to forgo the addition of unnecessary detail to give focus to her characters and create fresh looking environments for the characters to live in.
The tempo of the comic flows from moment to moment with slight changes in the scene as each panel passes. Coupled with the subject matter of the panels this creates a lonesome and haunting atmosphere. The lack of dialogue and very minute changes within each panel serve to slow the tempo. As Astrolapin performs an action we can see him almost pausing to reflect when the action is complete, his expression somewhere between boredom and loneliness. The lack of words to inform the reader as to Astrolapin’s thoughts leaves the reader with a narrative which is interesting in of itself but the true meaning isultimately left to interpretation and speculation. This adds to the intrigue of the story and is in some way perhaps more interesting than being given the specific details of the story. The reader is required to fill in the blanks for themselves and to imagine the possibilities.
‘A Gorgeous Harbour’ I feel is a great example of how to control timing within a silent comic. Its is an intrinsically interesting piece which gives the reader enough information to follow the narrative but leaves plenty of space for interpretation. The careful pacing mixed with Astrolapin’s deliberate actions and lonesome expressions help to create a piece which feels lonely, isolated and gorgeous.