“How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface. To make a map of my movement – no matter how temporary.”
― Craig Thompson, Blankets
A work that delighted my soul, this no-ordinary graphic novel is really commendable. This is by far the longest graphic novel that I’ve read but you won’t definitely hear me complain if a couple few pages were added.
The book is of Craig from his childhood to early adulthood growing up in Wisconsin. He was raised as this all too perfect Christian boy. He reads the Bible everyday and whenever he’s in doubt of something that he plans to do, he finds solace in it. The book follows how his life growing up in that religious and conservative family, the adventures and games he and his brother had gone through growing up from peeing each other to traversing unknown and prohibited places, his church camp experiences that did not serve its purpose, the bullying he had to endure from his peers, his drawings that served as his coping mechanism, his search for answers about his faith and how others view it, his quest in finding love and what it means to be in love amidst the sexual tension.
There’s Raina, whom he meet at a church camp. The two immediately clicked together and became inseparable. They became so close to each other until Raina invited Craig to spend a couple of days at their house. During that stay, sexual tension arose and Craig was caught off guard. He was physically attracted to her. The questions about what he needs to do and what he must not do begun surfacing. He questioned his every action towards Raina making it a point that all the Christian principles and teachings that was taught to him are applied. I like how the book took the story from there on. It became an examination of what we really should value and what should really come first. The experiences that the main protagonist had been through were like patches that when knitted together became a blanket that he eventually was able to reflect upon as a grown up.
Expressive. That’s the word that best describes the art of this book. The artwork has this right amount of creativity put into it. The illustrations were not too complex to the point that it’s confusing but also not too simple to be considered as naive. The artwork was able to capture the right emotions of the characters in the book. It’s mesmerizing to the point that at some point I found myself staring at a page longer than I should be. There were some cinematic panels of the outdoors covered in snow where you’ll feel like you’re also there.
The book’s artwork worked well with the honest delivery of the story. Sentimental and disturbing at times, this semi-autobiography takes readers to an unusual journey. Chronicling his life thru his journey in finding his identity, his faith and in love, this coming of age story moves between the past and the present establishing a solid ground for the readers to connect to the main protagonist. I also appreciate the connection of the main characters to their families. The way it was handled was so honest that I couldn’t help but be drawn to how close and natural it was. The book became very effective in setting this dreamy atmosphere that really worked well with the story. Th slow pacing worked with it too which made me feel the story more. The language and the use of words in the story didn’t came out strong but all to perfect to work well with the delightful drawing. Overall, It is a profound and poignant story of a man in his search of his identity, love and religion.
This book gave me a good reading experience. I was able to reflect on a lot of things like that of religion and relationships. I was able to connect to Craig. I was able to feel how lost he was growing up, how he was so confused with his world and him coming to terms with his life in general. The author was able to successfully capture the voice of a man yearning to understand the complexities of life. The book is like a window that made me see and realize things that I did not even think I will dwell upon before reading this book. This graphic novel, though, is not for everyone especially those who are not fond of talking about religion and as to what makes it bad and what makes it good.
4 stars out of 5.
Author: Craig Thompson
Part of a Series: No
Release Year: August 2003
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
No. of Pages: 592 pages
About the Author
Craig Ringwalt Thompson (b. September 21, 1975 in Traverse City, Michigan) is a graphic novelist best known for his 2003 work Blankets. Thompson has received four Harvey Awards, two Eisner Awards, and two Ignatz Awards. In 2007, his cover design for the Menomena album Friend and Foe received a Grammy nomination for Best Recording Package. (About the Author and Author’s photo courtesy of Goodreads)