The first graphic novel I ever got was Art Spiegelman’s Maus. It was great book, opening a new genre to me and showing me my love for comics could continue after middle school. In college I was reading a graphic design magazine and learned of a new graphic novel called Blankets that was getting some great reviews. When my copy came I sat down and read the entire book cover to cover in one sitting. It was life-changing to say the least.
Blankets is the auto-biographical story of Craig Thompson. Craig takes us through some of the most important times in his life, from being picked on as a kid to learning to draw to his special relationship with his brother. But most of the book focuses on his first serious teenage romance with a beautiful girl named Raina. He doesn’t censor any parts of his feelings or their relationship, but lays everything out for us in black and white (literally – there’s no color).
The plot and art are woven together so deftly that they become one and the same, with comic book panes blurring and sliding into one another and Craig deftly leading his readers eyes across the page until you are so immersed you don’t realize the book is almost 600 pages long. I feel personal connections with Craig in many ways, but his story has resonated with everyone I’ve lent the book to. Blankets has plenty of humorous episodes, but the gravity of it comes through in some seriously heartrending scenes.
Craig Thompson, also the author of Goodbye Chunky Rice and Carnet de Voyage, has a great website designed around his custom illustration. Most of the action takes place over on his blog though (note – it is not necessary to have your blog separated from the rest of your website this much, it looks like it was added as an afterthought). There Craig keeps in touch with his readers and fans by letting them know about his current adventures, upcoming events, and how work is progressing on his new graphic novel – the 600+ paged Habibi.
If you haven’t guessed yet I’m recommending that you get a copy of Blankets and give it 4 hours of your undivided attention. But first tell me about artwork in a book that has really had an impact on you.