“Blankets” by Craig Thompson, A Graphic Novel

“Blankets” by Craig Thompson  (2003) – 582 pages

 I suppose in the world of graphic novels, when Art Spiegelman, author of Maus and Maus II, sends you a long letter of praise for your own book, you know you’ve reached the top of the graphics world.  That’s what happened to Craig Thompson and his graphic novel “Blankets”.   I looked all over the Internet to find out exactly what Spiegelman said in this letter of praise, but apparently the letter was private.  That didn’t stop most reviewers from mentioning Spiegelman’s letter in their reviews of “Blankets”.  Me neither. 

 “Blankets” is 582 pages, but being a graphic novel with very few words on each page, it reads rapidly.

 “Blankets” is a sweet and not-so-innocent story of first love.  Teenager Craig meets teenager Raina at a Baptist Christian winter camp, and the two hit it off immediately.  The two become inseparable and a little later Craig goes to stay at Raina’s home in Michigan for two weeks.  He gets to know Raina’s family which consists of her father and mother who are separated and getting a divorce, her adopted brother Ben and adopted sister Laura who are both retarded, and her biological sister who is married and has a baby Sarah. 

 Craig’s stay at Raina’s home is like a winter idyll, almost dream-like in its perfection.  There is a simple charm to these scenes of Craig and Raina together in the cozy house and the snowy outdoors.

 There is much about Jesus and the Christian religion in this novel, but it is not the harsh extreme right-wing evangelical Christianity so prevalent today.  Here the religion is gentler and more accepting and fits in with the story.

 While the story is sweet and simple, the book has also gotten into trouble for the explicitness of some of its pictures. 

 Once again I find myself committing that cardinal sin of book blogging, discussing one of the author’s previous books just when he is releasing a brand new book.  Craig Thompson has just released a new book this month called ‘Habibi’. I must be nearly the last person on earth to have discovered “Blankets”. 

 In a world where so many graphic novels and anime are cynical and ultra-violent, “Blankets” is a quiet peaceful life-affirming exception.

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