By Cécile & Christophe Lemoine, translated by Kevin Sullivan (Europe Comics)
No ISBN: digital only

It’s a truly horrific realisation that 2020 has brought the concept of imminent mortality back to the forefront of societal consciousness in way we in the west thought gone with gaslight, horse-brasses and Victorian ornaments. Now you’re truly lucky indeed if death hasn’t touched you, your family or circle of friends.

So, with the subject now truly unavoidable, how do you explain it to those who most need to understand what as much as why things have suddenly changed?

Originally released in Europe in May 2012, Clara is a children’s comic book tackling exactly that thorny issue in a potent – but ultimately uplifting – fantasy splendidly reminiscent of kindergarten classic The Velveteen Rabbit

Written by actor, novelist and script doctor Christophe Lemoine and illustrated by artist, cartoonist and designer Cécile Brosseau, the tale reveals how the idyllic life of a bright, imaginative seven-year old changes forever when her devoted mother receives some terrifying news from her doctors.

In the days before and after her mother’s death, little Clara experiences a wave of unwelcome and uncontrollable emotions, barely held in check by the attentions of her equally-shattered dad and grandmother and centred around the scruffy old doll mummy gave her before everything changed…

However, at her lowest point, a journey into a bleak and terrifying fantasy world offers Clara revelation and perspective to balance the loss and grief and provides a chance of working out for herself the mystery of being left behind…

Balancing the largely unformed emotions of a child suffering bereavement with the escapist fantasy of saving a cherished toy is not a new concept, but it’s done here with style, aplomb and scrupulous sensitivity. Lemoine & Cécile focus clearly and efficiently on their message that death is not abandonment: accepting that kids do not process reality the same way adults do, but never sugar-coating or downplaying the tragedy.

Clara is a powerful tale impeccably told and one many adults would be well-advised to add to their armoury of learning aids to life…
© 2016 – LE LOMBRD – CÉCILE & LEMOINE. All rights reserved.