Good-bye Chunky Rice is a story, written by Craig Thompson, about a turtle named Chunky Rice and a mouse deer named Dandle. The story shares a message about how people need love and relationships in their life to be happy.
The story begins with Dandle and Chunky heading to the beach where they stay the night together for the last time. Dandle asks Chunky why he is leaving, and Chunky says he does not feel like he belongs here. Chunky wants Dandle to come with him on his travels but Dandle cannot.
The next day, Chunky is packing his belongings and listening to a Motown record. In the apartment next door, Solomon is telling a bird, Mertle, the ancient story of Orpheus and Eurydice. The story is about a married woman who dies, and the husband travels to the underworld to see her.
Chunky and Solomon go down to the harbor for Chunky’s departure. On the way, Solomon tells Chunky about when he was a kid. Solomon had a dog named Stomper, who had eight puppies. Solomon’s dad tells him that Stomper can’t take care of the puppies because the dog is old and weak. Solomon is forced to drown the puppies in a lake.
When they arrive at the harbor, Solomon greets his brother Charles, who is a sailor. Chunky pays Charles $200 to take him to the Kahootney Islands. Before Chunky can get on board, Charles tells him he can only bring the essentials with him on board. Charles throws away Chunky’s records and all the important things to Chunky.
Charles has lived on the sea ever since his wife Glenda died. He lives on his boat with a woman that he is together with, but he will never be fully happy again without Glenda.
Onboard the ship, Chunky meets Siamese twins named Ruth and Livonia. Ruth tells Chunky that people who feel regret etche their name in a turtle shell, and let the shell float down the river. This is a metaphor because Chunky lives in a turtle shell, and he realizes how much he regrets leaving his home with Dandle behind.
After Chunky left, Dandle was sitting at the ocean’s edge. She says that life means nothing without Chunky. Dandle throws message bottles into the ocean in hopes they will reach Chunky.
Later, Solomon flashes back to his childhood and when he killed the puppies. The next day, Solomon takes Stomper to the ocean. The dog swims out in the waves but never returns to shore. Solomon’s dad said, the ocean took Stomper. But, Solomon knew Stomper gave up on life because she lost her puppies.
The book ends with Dandle throwing message bottles in the ocean. She says she is never going to stop sending Chunky messages. Throwing bottles day after day. On the boat, Chunky looks over the side to see one of Dandle’s bottles floating in the water.
The major theme in the story is that everybody needs somebody, and the important things in life can be overlooked.
Thompson uses the ocean to evoke emotion in the story. Thompson draws the ocean dark and depression. It conveys the negative emotion Chunky has when he’s on the boat. This relates to Scott Mcloud’s chapter, living in the line.
In one scene when Solomon’s bird flies away, Thompson uses a lot of panels for one picture to show that Solomon is in pieces or broken.
Another sequence shows Solomon in a box but the whole page is dark to give the feeling of isolation.