Blankets (2003) by Craig Thompson Review
Blankets slows things down beautifully. It is, at its core, a memoir of Craig Thompson as he meets and finds love with a girl named Raina during a grueling, two-week church camp. The story does not end there. The author weaves other aspects of his life such as his relationship with his younger brother Phil, his toilsome life as he faces the prospect of bullying during his high school years, his role during family complications, and his discernment to religion as well as to life’s “biggest questions”. All of this make up a 592-paged, black and white comic that, amidst all of its convoluted adversities, contains a charming, winter’s heart.
This memoir is thematically complex and mature. The light romance I expected prior to reading this had been buried by the labyrinthine plots and subplots that structure the novel’s narrative. This is a story of discovery, not just about finding one’s first love, but essentially about everything that has to do with growing up. Discovering smoking, masturbation, and sex, all tangling up within Craig’s soul, asking questions that may so doubt the religious teachings that have been taught to him whilst growing up in a Christian neighborhood. The idea of all these temptations still holds up as the novel perfectly juxtaposes the light and the dark, providing witty moments during grim circumstances. This is a reflection of the human soul, a memoir that does not forget life’s beauty even when times may be too difficult to continue.
That theme is harmonized and coalesced with Craig’s artwork. The graphic novel does make an active attempt to have surrealism in its art. Seeing that Craig himself has been fond of drawing ever since his childhood, it stands without a doubt that this memoir contains beautifully structured art that blends in with the real and the surreal, capturing the magical moment of a winter’s sentimentality gone by, a lasting love that shimmers within the thawed ice as dew lies for the oncoming season of spring. The images are picteresque; the neutral colors complimenting the melancholy of Craig’s life. The character designs may not be outstanding, but it stands as a symbolic testament to how and what the author feels during this period of his life.
Blankets may be slower than a lot of graphic novels of its nature, but this should not really scare anyone off. Graphic novels today tend to be a “moments” read, a comic that can be finished in just one sitting. This memoir does not just want to be a momentary distraction. It wants to linger a little bit, to create vivid and dreamlike images that stay with the reader a little longer. This is certainly a good thing. The comic wants to get its readers to live their life along with Craig, to feel emotions and to get more out of this experience than to just see things whiz by just for the sake of it. There are clunky parts, considering the novel’s length, but the net effect is still pretty wondrous.