Saturday, March 22, 2008

Blankets by Craig Thompson

I picked up this graphic novel in Charleston, South Carolina, at a great record shop/bookstore/social space up on King Street called 525 Records. They specialize in indie labels in a wide variety of musical genres, with a smattering of books, mags and zines.

Flipping through the book section, I came across Thompson's rather epic (coming in at nearly 600 pages, huge for a graphic novel) Blankets, his rather hopeful coming-of-age story. I devoured the book in 4-5 hours while on a road trip, couldn't quite put it down in fact, perhaps alienating my two driving mates. The risk was well-worth it though, as Thompson's tale reminded me of how sweet love can be. The middle section, Thompson's late teen years, may prove a bit tedious for those anti-romance folks out there, but there is enough backtracking to his childhood to keep the story rolling.

The most compelling aspect of this novel though are Thompson's phenomenal drawings. His use of whites and blacks is a marvel, as he sets the mood for any given scene with skill relatively unmatched in my recent forays into the genre. And I need to say this- his depictions of Raina are stunning. She stands out as the epitome of beauty, as captured by a lovestruck teen overcome with emotions. His honest portrayal of his own emotions stands in marked contrast to his inability to account for hers, another charming chapter that manifests itself in Thompson's skilled drawings.

The other noteworthy feature of this book are Thompson's abstract, dreamlike sequences. On several occasions he gets away from his more literal drawings and wanders into the world of strange happenings, especially when reflecting on his relationship with his younger brother. This reminded me a great deal of David B's Epilectic, which does so quite masterfully.

Blankets has been a welcomed addition to my book collection. Thompson won several awards for Blankets, including the 2004 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Novel and Best Artist/Writer.


Denise said...

The result was a shared experience of the joy of the beauty and tenderness of the novel, not alienation. Thanks for making me believe in the graphic novel, D.