Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blankets


There's something truly wonderful about the medium of graphic novels. Somehow, if the art is brilliant, the book can convey so many different emotions without too many words and that's exactly what happens in Blankets by Craig Thompson. This is a beautifully drawn and written book about the pain of adolescence, trying to fit in, religion, first love, first heartbreak and growing up.

Thompson based the book on his own childhood in Wisconsin with his younger brother Phil, and his devout Christian parents. Craig always felt like an outsider not just at home but at school. He found comfort in his art and his drawings. One day in his teens, he goes to a religious summer camp and falls in love with a beautiful girl called Raina. The two share a long distance relationship for a while then Craig finally visits Raina and her own dysfunctional family. But as first loves go, this one inevitably has to end.


If you look at the panel above, you can tell exactly what's going on and you don't even need words to describe it. Craig has just met Raina. They're shy, awkward and embarrassed but quite obviously attracted to each other.

This is a beautiful graphic novel and incredibly emotional. Every page has wonderful drawings that completely convey the depth of Craig's feelings for everything in his life. The book opens with the young brothers fighting over the blankets on the bed they share. The Wisconsin winters are incredibly harsh and both brothers are freezing. Their quarrel soon attracts the attention of their domineering father who punishes one of his sons by locking him up in a cubby hole. Thompson's drawings are so spot-on that they'll even give you a little shiver. As the book continues, we feel Craig's isolation, his disillusion with religion, his experiences with Raina, his heartbreak and finally growing up and finding himself.  This is a unique book even among graphic novels. Thompson is obviously quite talented and I look forward to exploring more of his work. Even if you're not a fan of graphic novels, you'll love this one.


11 comments:

  1. I am really glad to read this post. I have no qualms in admitting that I don't "get" graphic novels a lot of the time--but I really want to. This is going to give me food for thought for days and maybe I'll pick this book up and finally give graphic novels a try.

    I agree that you can tell exactly what's going on there with no words--it's liberating, in a way.

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  2. This does sound like a wonderful graphic novel and one Ihave been looking out for a good while at the library as have heard some wonderful reviews of it. Its not a genre i have tried too much since I was younger and addicted to Batman novels, this just sounds delightful though.

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  3. I don't really read graphic novels (I'm not sure that I ever have), but this one seems so beautiful and emotional I think I will have to find it and read it. I think you're absolutely right that this is a story that benefits from the art in terms of evoking and instilling emotions in the readers. I'm really looking forward to it!

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  4. If I was to read, and enjoy, a graphic novel you have convinced me that this would be it. I loved that picture you posted where you can tell exactly what's going on. I feel I could relate to it on many personal levels as well: the Christian background (which I still adhere to strongly) and the discomfort of teenage years. Does anyone truly feel that they fit in? Maybe, but if you did, what did you have to sacrifice to get the masses to accept you in high school? Ahh, I digress. Needless to say, I loved your review.

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  5. This sounds fascinating - I have never read a graphic novel and I don't think I quite get the whole idea - but I am conscious that people seem to get a lot out of them, so maybe I should take the plunge?!

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  6. I loved Blankets. A friend was trying to get me to read graphic novels and lent me his copy, and since then I've incorporated graphic novels into my reading diet.

    My review's posted here: http://sumthinblue.com/blankets-and-chunky-rice/

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  7. I've wanted to read this for a long time but can't bring myself to pay full price for it. I think I'll have to track it down on Amazon. Thanks for the review :)

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  8. I agree this is a beautiful example of what the graphic novel format can achieve at its best. I've given this to friends who are curious about graphic novels, and they've all loved it!

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  9. I am so so glad you loved this! It's one of my favourite reads of the year so far - and yes, an example of the medium at its best.

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  10. Blankets was the first graphic novel (memoir) that I actually enjoyed reading. I have since found several others but I still hold Blankets up as one of the best of the genre. It really made me think and feel.
    Here is my review of it, if you have time. Thanks, Anne Bennett
    http://headfullofbooks.blogspot.com/2009/11/graphic-novel-new-genre-for-me.html

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