Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 192

Blankets

by Craig Thompson
Genre notes: memoir, romance, religion
582 pages
ISBN: 1770462201 (Amazon)

There are any number of reasons that Thompson’s work should be lauded. His art is gorgeous and his brushline expressive. He treats personal topics with a sense of both whimsy and honesty. He writes true experiences, even when they’re fictional. And as great as all those things are, there is one idea that stands out in his work that I’ve yet to see another creator tackle (let alone master) as Thompson has done.

His sense of the sacred and his ability to convey it in ink is breathtaking. He offers his readers these holy moments, these frozen, fluid, organic treasures. These sacramentals. Whether he intends to lead the reader into a religious experience or not, his work really is very spiritual. As spiritual as an atheistic holy experience can actually be at any rate. There may be moments in Miyazaki that approach the wonder of the sanctuaries that Thompson builds in Blankets. It’s for this reason (among others) that Thompson’s second book remains one of my favourites, even years after having first encountered it.

Semi-autobiographically chronicling (via chrono-thematic structuring) his early life—from his establishment in faith and his discovery of love to his abandonment of that love and his subsequent abandonment of faith—Thompson plays honestly at all times with his story elements, thereby lending his tale an uncanny credibility. And while flashbacks and tangents proliferate, the overarching chiastic structure verifies the reader’s intuition that Thompson knows well where he is headed and is going to take you there whether you like it or not.

This book is a masterpiece of form, symbol, and structure. Tokens bend and writhe and carry narrative significance throughout. Thompson’s art here is fluid and serves well to establish the variety of moods described in his several vignettes. Blankets is an evocative work that should not be missed by any who would appreciate a serious, heartfelt, and magical telling of the tragedy and wonder of what it means to come of age.

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