Craig Thompson’s “Blankets”

I just finished Blankets, the beautiful, intimate, sweeping, acclaimed, auto-bio-graphic novel by Craig Thompson. It’s over 600 pages long, but like many graphic novels (except for denser fare like Watchmen), it goes by in a breeze. The story covers his extremely Christian, Midwestern upbringing, his first love as a senior in high school, and his misgivings about what path he should follow in life. I’m not sure what percentage of it is pulled directly from his life, but given how personal and honest many of the moments are (almost embarrassingly so), I’m guessing it’s pretty much all true.

The art is expressionistic and all lovingly drawn in just black and white, with lots of curvy, sweeping lines and shaky, lo-fi, eyeballed panel edges. And the thing I found most striking about his artistic choices is the subjectivity of the images; that is, what we are seeing seems to be what Craig (the character) is seeing, and what Craig (the author) once saw. The size of people and objects, the mood of landscapes, and some more bravura abstract pages, reflect Craig’s perception of those things, and of the world. I quite enjoyed it, and though I found the ending a little sudden and unsatisfying (he could’ve done a better job tying up some emotional arcs), I would highly recommend Blankets to anyone.

My completed-graphic-novel list now includes Blankets, Watchmen, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, Ghost World, Sandman, Persepolis, and Maus. (Not to mention the Tintin, Bone, and Asterix the Gaul series, which I read when I was younger.) A friend of mine has recommended I read Fun House. Any other sequential art enthusiasts have any recommendations for me? Since reading Scott McLeod’s brilliant Understanding Comics, I’m endlessly intrigued by the medium and the vast possibilities it embodies, which are only beginning to be explored. So please do leave a comment if you’ve got a suggestion or two.

(Disclaimer: I must admit I’m more interested in “indie” / personal / experimental fare like Blankets or Jimmy Corrigan than more traditional fare like V for Vendetta or League of Extraordinary Gentleman. I have no doubt that those latter two are excellent reads, as Alan Moore can do no wrong, but I’m leaning towards stuff that pushes the boundaries of the medium a bit more. Watching fantastical characters do their thing is fun and all, but I’m particularly interested in the way comics can represent normal, everyday reality.)

~ by toren on July 13, 2011.

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