Trying to review Blankets by Craig Thompson makes me want to go back, again, on my opinions about the use of “graphic novel” versus “comic book.” It almost seems irreverent to call Craig Thompson’s book a “comic book” because it has everything a good memoir has, just written in comic book form. Blankets is Thompson’s coming-of-age and first love story where he explores various relationships. The narrative jumps between childhood memories of fighting with his brother when they had to share a bed, and the story of his first love, Raina. Through both narratives, Thompson also explores his relationship with God and the Christian church.
I’m having a hard time coming up with what to say about this story — it’s painful, beautiful, silly, and nostalgic all at the same time. Thompson does an exquisite job capturing the feeling of disconnect loners can feel even while in a crowd, the feeling of both loving and hating your family, the feeling of being in love for the first time, and the feeling of losing love for the first time. Although the book is more than 600 pages, I found that I didn’t want to put it down and read through most of it in a single afternoon. Some of the sections near the end, focusing on Thompson’s loss of faith, seemed a little rushed, but that may just be because the novel focuses so much on his relationship with Raina.
The artwork in Blankets is also really fun to look at. Each page moves between panels seamlessly, and Thompson uses curves, textures, and really sweeping full-page drawings to show how his emotion became overwhelming in certain moments. You have to spend time looking at each page carefully in order to get all of the important details. It’s a really well-done book that I think even people who are not fans of comic books would enjoy.
Links to Enjoy:
- Page previews at Top Shelf Comix
- February 2004 interview with Craig Thompson at Bookslut
- TIME story on Blankets by Andrew Arnold
If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!