The Gorgeous Habour pulls several threads together; touching on some very important issues and aspects of today’s person and the life that one leads in an ever-growing world, and ties them with the character of Astrolapin. Simple, fresh and new in its look and style, Mr. Clement’s latest work falls into a different genre of comic work. The way the book is laid out, is in itself unique. The artist exhibits his ability to present his ideas slowly and subtly, however, with clarity, giving the reader the space and time to think and to mull over each frame, to realise its essence. Much like an animation, every frame introduces a tiny change which holds great meaning in the larger picture; the artist’s seeming intention being to cultivate the patience in his reader and to make him come back to it again and again, to take time to discover each detail and the significance of it.
A striking feature of the book is that the dialogues come later, on the back of the frames, allowing the reader to ponder over the images and think for himself. Towards the beginning, every frame is a single frame but as one turns the pages the two frames on a page need to be conjoined to see what’s happening. However, Mr. Clement does not stick to any one rule, there are actions happening outside of the frames, the character walks on the frame, the frames themselves change, and then one comes across a frame which is even larger than the book, which has to be folded in as a page. The artist plays around with space, using simple things to convey larger meanings. With the intermission, the artist introduces theatre into his work, as if it’s the time to stop and reflect over what has happened, savour that which you have tasted and wait in anticipation of what is to come.
The book touches on the commonest themes in today’s comics, violence, sex, porn, love, the rapidly changing world, industrialisation, but what sets The Gorgeous Harbour apart is the manner in which it is done. Astrolapin is constantly exploring these harbours but Mr. Clement through his character is asking, attempting, and challenging whatever confronts him. This work is different in that it is not merely presenting an issue or a theme but rather taking up a discussion of it, initiating a process of questioning.
The very character of Astrolapin is so fascinating. Human and yet alien, intriguing and yet so common a person within. This book is a question: In a comic, what is form and content? Perhaps form can be content sometimes! Being a bilingual work, The Gorgeous Harbour is a good attempt to cross the Chinese shores of Hong Kong and appeal to a wider audience. In itself, The Gorgeous Harbour uses a different language of comic and Mr. Clement through his simple lined sketches takes the reader on different flights, of fantasy, of imagination, of love, of innocence, of fear, of anguish, of longing, of remorse, of questions and of infinite thoughts.- Ruchika Mishra, Leeds, United Kingdom
300 pages, black and white, 10 color pages, Chinese, English and French. Limited to 300 copies.