Saturday, January 16, 2010

Blankets by Craig Thompson

The graphic novels medium lends itself so well to telling stories. To adding that extra something to add even more of an impact to an already emotionally charged story. And I don't think I've ever seen that more evident than it is in Craig Thompson's Blankets. The title of this graphic novel itself evokes feelings of warmth, security, safety...all themes that are tackled in this beautiful story of brotherhood, first love, the effects of a heavy handed religious upbringing, childhood sexual abuse, and trying to fit in in a world that sometimes doesn't seem to have a place for you. This is a BIG book. It clocks in at nearly 600 pages, but I'm not lying when I tell you I read it in one sitting. It's so engaging, so beautiful, so TRUE that I couldn't put it down. There are moments when I'd turn the page and I'd just have to stop and stare at the page because what was before me was so beautiful. Craig Thompson captures life's moments so well. From a first kiss, a brotherly moment, wrapping yourself up under a blanket with your first love for the first time, a first sexual encounter, long nights spent getting to know one another, awkward teenage moments, moments spent questioning one's self. It's all here and presented just so wonderfully. I think I went through the whole gambit of emotions while reading this book. From being moved to tears, to ecstatic, to laughing my ass off to horrified. Basically, the novel is an autobiography of Craig's life from his childhood years til his early twenties. But it focuses mostly on his early childhood and his relationship with his little brother whom he shared a room and a bed with while being raised by his overly religious, yet loving mother; and on his teenage years as he falls in love with Raina, the first love of his life. Both stories are beautiful in their own way. There's a recurring theme in the book of finding safety from pain, in finding comfort in others, in cuddling under blankets, gathering warmth from another human being...looking for warmth, looking for understanding. The art is amazing throughout the novel. Some of the panels are just so touching that they move you to tears. There are a couple of scenes with Raina and Craig out in the snow when they share their first kiss that I just thought were incredibly done! I loved them and I'd kill to have them framed. Trust me when I say this one is well worth the price and the size. It's one you'll go back to again and again.

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