Here are seven lines from Blankets that pretty much sums up the story 1 I couldn t fathom that the soul trapped in my child body would be transplanted to its grotesque adolescent counterpart.2 But in that little pathetic clump of blankets there was comfort.3 We both knew that nothing existed for us outside of the moment.4 Maybe I m sad about wanting you I m not too comfortable with wanting someone.5 Shame is always easier to handle if you have someone to share it with.6 How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface To make a map of my movement no matter how temporary.7 Even a mistake is better than nothing. Having produced this illustrated autobiography of his formative years, Thompson certainly deserves credit for an ambitious undertaking His illustrations are the shining accomplishment of this book cartoony, yet humanly realistic, they exude a youthful enthusiasm Definitely a memorable drawing style, it almost makes Blankets worth a read in and of itself Though well intentioned, I felt that the plot of Blankets fell short of what it promised The bulk of the story revolves around the author s hokey two week long love affair with a girl he met at church camp Though his first encounter with love may have been earth shaking for the author, he fails to convey this It reads like 400 illustrated pages of masturbatory teen angst At times I had to check the title page to make sure I wasn t accidentally reading Dawson s Creek The Graphic Novel To make matters even cliche, he has one character invoke the lines from The Cure s Just Like Heaven Yes, it s a great song, but it feeds right into the sappiness I felt mired in for most of the story I also felt assaulted by the religious overtones in the book For 500 some pages of his childhood, Thompson is a Jesus freak, but in the last 5 pages we learn that by his early twenties he has abandoned Christianity It would have been nice if the author would have shared of his transformation with the reader I m sure it was a momentous change for the author, but the lack of explanation makes it seem almost arbitrary Blankets has a few redeeming qualities, such as Thompson s flashbacks to his childhood in the room he shared with his little brother They build forts, sail pirate ships, explore haunted caves, etc These scenes really showcase his humor, creativity, and flair for storytelling Though light and emotionally unburdoned, they conveyed personality than the love story he focused on for most of the book Additionally, the author introduces a few darker moments, such as a babysitter who sexually abused him and his brother It s a testament to the uncensored honesty in his storytelling Overall, it was a quick read and worth the time It was nice change of pace from sci fi and superhero graphic novels But pick it up from the local library or borrow it from a friend I wouldn t advise anyone to spend 29.95 for this bible sized comic book. Every year I teach this book in my YA course it comes up as one of the top three favorite texts in the course I might go so far as to say it is one of the top five or ten graphic novels of all time Powerful, gorgeous, touching, expressive, it s among other things a meditation on first or young love, with sweeping and or anguished art accomplished in the romantic tradition, with all the emotional highs and lows of young love Thompson s story might be described as autobiographical fiction set in Wisconsin, where he grew up with his controlling parents and his brother Phil, art and fantasy he calls it dreaming are his escapes Craig can t choose what he reads or sees on television His father is a tyrant His primary escapes are his drawing, nature, and play fantasy with his brother He for a time turns to his parents religion as a kind of escape from the world, with that promise of Heaven, and considers the encouragement from his pastor that he, a thoughtful, earnest boy, follow the ministerial calling But it s a promise also filled with dark threats of Hell at one point, led by a suggestion from his teachers that art is selfish, un Christian, the darkly intense Craig burns all of his artwork 16, at a Bible summer camp, Craig meets and falls in love with Raina, a kind of ethereal beauty whom he fancies is like him, a loner, into nature, increasingly less into organized religion And he s physically attracted to her, which is something he struggles with against the backdrop of a religion that forbids this very attraction as the sin of lust After camp they exchange letters and he visits her upper Michigan home for almost a week She makes a quilt a blanket for him, that becomes an emblem of their relationship in return he paints a tree on her wall with the two of them in it They sleep together, they are in love I have now read Blankets a few times In the last reading and review I had developed the idea I am sure informed by others reading with me that the girl, Raina, is never quite real for Craig, almost completely idealized, a creation by him of what it is he needs to escape from his oppressive circumstances, his conservative family, his being bullied at school Throughout the book we increasingly see Raina with a halo, angelic, and I thought This is an indication of his unrealistic view of her While I think this escape theory is true in some sense, I have come back around to Seth Hahne s view of the book, that Craig s view of Raina her individualism, her body sexuality, her responsibility for her two special needs brothers and sisters is part of the construction of his view of her as sacred Craig really does love Raina, and she is part of his constructing a positive, human, embodied spirituality He still believes in God, he still knows the Bible, but he reads the sacred in the world increasingly as different than the fundamentalist upbringing he was limited to His is a personal spirituality, not group think religion The sacred he sees in the world comes to re include his art as meaning making thus the book Art, like spirituality, emerges out of patterns, a patchwork quilt of personal characteristics and commitments The artwork in Blankets is also a patchwork quilt of gorgeous, sweeping, romantic images of the natural world snow, trees, weather , likening it to patterns in Raina s dress and hair, open and free and spacious and lovely in contrast to the darker, sinister patches of his oppressive house and Sunday school There s also an emblem or mark that weaves its way through the book, present whenever Craig recognizes something as sacred At one point that essentially Calvinist raised Craig even forgives himself enough for his transgressions to even share a halo with Raina.When they part, however, as most 16 year old romances do, Craig is still darkly intense in, as with his art, earlier, burning all the artifacts and letters Raina as shared with him He imagines erasing, white washing, the very painting he has made for Raina All memories gone, is his goal Except the blanket, thank goodness, which becomes the basis for the book, and his embrace of the patchwork quilt of storytelling Blankets is a gorgeously expressive, exquisitely drawn book about first love, religion, family, art, nature, memory, blankets It s a dark book filled with angst and fears, and also a gorgeous, swirling romantic sweep of a book He is one anguished dude, this young Craig, so complicated and messed up by religion and family, and yet he dedicates it to his family, with love, and also makes it clear that the sacred is important for him and others A must read, and a beautiful work of art.Craig Thompson interview I just read this in one sitting Incredible First graphic novel i ve given 5 full stars to. Nothing like reading a 580 page book in two and a bit hours to make you think you ve had a productive day It probably took Craig Thompson 10 years of hard graft, and after two hours I just snap my fingers say yeah, loved that next Wow, I wish I could steam through non graphic novels at the same speed imagine scything through The Brothers Caramel or Moby Duck or Remembrance of Things Past, cutting through swathes of these vast 19th century hulks like a hijacked speedboat through a public swimming area, like a dentist s drill through a dentist I approached Blankets with caution it looked like a soppy romance and that s not my cup of chicken liver pate And it was too lurve at its ultrateen slurpiest Sample dialogue Her What a WONDERFUL tree you ve painted.Him This is US in the branches.Her Even though it s cold outside, it s warm in this tree.Or if that seems reasonableHim I love you, Raina Her OH CRAIG So imagine my surprise when I found myself being hurled along these swirling rapids of youthful open heart surgery like a stick in a game of uncomfortably prurient Poohsticks I believed in Craig and Raina and their awkward families I believed in the immediate passion and the swift fizzle And I liked all the Christian stuff the charm of the quaint idea of a teenage boy in the 1990s telling himself that even kissing a girl is probably wrong.Craig gets very detailed about some things, but remains aggravatingly vague about other things that you really wanna know about Like the weird thing with the babysitter What was the babysitter doing with Craig his little brother Not too sure And the ending was rushed as if someone had said Craig, you have to stop now NOW STOP Aside from that, pretty great.Not recommended for those suffering from type 2 diabetes. Find all of my reviews at jerkoff party of 1 I m here I m here While a 3 Star rating is most definitely a perfectly fine rating in this case I am one of a handful amongst my friends who dared to not give 4 or 5 Allow me a moment to splain myself If I were judging solely on the artwork I would break the GR rating system and allot Blankets 10 I mean seriously it begins right at the cover Tr s belle And for those of you who have developed a love for the grown up coloring book You could defile the crap out of Mr Thompson s creation The reason my rating is low is because I just didn t get it I mean, I got it Farts This isn t going well Okay, so Blankets was not difficult to understand It was a coming of age story about a boy and went from his early childhood and superbadawful things sad face to his ber religious adolescence and eventually finding a bit of who he wanted to be in early adulthood The part I don t get is why an autobiography Maybe it s just because I had never heard of Craig Thompson before be gentle, I m still a graphic novel noob , but this might have worked better for me if it was about a fictional character I don t get the trend of everyone thinking their life story is something worth writing about and while Thompson did have a superbad happen, it was barely a blip on the over 600 pages contained in this book FOR ME there just wasn t a whole lot of story aside from an excuse to show readers beautiful art for it to be so voluminous Anyway, obviously it s just me and I read this wrong Go read Carmen s review instead She s good at words even when those words are about a pitcherbook As for me I ll be trying to track down a copy of Habibi because Wow This dude is seriously goooooooood at the black and white. Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry of two brothers growing up in the isolated country, and the budding romance of two coming of age lovers A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and the origins of faith. It s beautiful A quilt made of memories, bad and good, side by side sketches about growing up in a small town in Wisconsin about sharing a room with a younger brother about surviving school days with merciless bullying about finding solace in religion about a boy who meets a girl about disfunctional families and people with disabilities about being an artist and about the power of imagination, about the purity of first love reflected in the purity of snow about losing your religion and losing your inocence about beauty and sadness and time turning the pure white snow into a sea of dirty slush and about the precious few things you can salvage, like a quilt of many shapes and coloursI am such a big fan of Craig Thompson s second graphic novel Habibi that I was actually afraid to start on his first one, lest I be disappointed I should have had faith in the artist and in his talent to capture emotions and existential angst in his images and in his confessional words, because this debut is just as good The artwork may seem naive and unsophisticated at first glance, especially if it is compared with the carefully rendered arabesques of his Arabian Tales in Habibi, but I believe this style suits the story in Blankets better it reflects on the beginnings of the artist, with the first childhood primitive drawings and the later jagged edges and raw passion of adolescence Same goes for the decision to use black and white panels with the white empty spaces of snow and the dark corners of trauma The only time Thompson is really careful with his artwork is in the portrayal of his muse Raina, always beautiful and dreamy like an angel fallen among mortals I could detect some homage paid to Bill Waterson and some echoes of Henry Rousseau, but Craig Thompson is an authentic and powerful voice in the adult comic market, well worth a try for anybody who still belives that comics are all about superheroes in spandex Blankets is my first graphic novel of 2016, and I feel I am on the right path I hope the next albums I try will be equal to the high expectations set by Craig Thompson And I hope he will write of these wonderful tales. I first read about Blankets in an article on the history of graphic novels, where it was mentioned as one of the signature examples of the form along famous works such as Art Spiegelman s Maus Interestingly, Spiegelman liked the book, and sent the author a congratulatory letter after publication Blankets was offered as an example of a serious and important work, which helped define the term and give it meaning and significance by telling a mature and largely autobiographical story it helped distance the graphic novel from a stereotype of a comic book for children I ve never read anything by Craig Thomson before, so when the opportunity presented itself I chose to take it and dove right in I started reading Blankets in the evening of one day, and finished in the morning of the next one, taking a break only because I had to go to sleep Because of the nature of its form, this 600 page book can finished in one sitting inspired by the title in a favorite, comfortable chair, with a big cup of warm tea or cocoa nearby, allowing the book to wrap itself around you like a warm blanket.As mentioned, Thomson s work is almost 600 pages long ,but never feels like it because of the fluidity of his storytelling and his skills as an artist Never does Blankets feel slow or uninspired never does it feel boring Thomson managed to take his own growing up in small town, rural Wisconsin in a conservative, evangelical Christian family and make it interesting to the reader I do not know where the book exceeds the limits of autobiography or if it does it at all , but I was engaged all the way throughout it and was simply interested in learning what will happen next Blankets chronicles the childhood and adolescence of the author protagonist Craig, and all the struggles that come with it having to share a room with his younger brother, his devotion and struggle to live according to Biblical principles in a complicated word, and eventually his first love, Raina This is a very sentimental story of personal origins, to which many of us will be able to relate in one way or another who has never experienced confusion in a complicated world, or fallen intensely in love at a young age The author captures these feelings very well, even though he undoubtedly looks at parts of his own youth with rose tinted glasses and romanticizes the heck out of it some of the situations and conversations that his protagonist have are just way too convenient and dramatic Still, it is a very engaging and genuinely heartwarming story where we like the protagonists and want the best for them.However, this is not a perfect book unfortunately it has flaws, and even major ones While it is very well written and drawn, it is not as perfect as the enthusiastic reviews made it out to be some of its flaws are just too major and obvious to ignore Thomson published Blankets when he was just 28 years old it can be argued that at this age an author simply does not have a reason to publish a memoir, unless his experience was truly unique and memoir worthy, and a book can help analyze it in depth and provide readers with valuable lessons and insights The problem with Blankets lies in the fact that it does not do that the religious aspect of the book is very skin deep late in the book Craig has to confront his religious beliefs as a new adult, and the matter is simply left unresolved the entire struggle that he has experienced throughout the book is left alone and abandoned In fact, this is my entire problem with the book as much as I enjoyed it, it does not say anything new or particularly insightful stripped of its beautiful illustrations, its content simply would not hold up to close scrutiny This sudden ending to Craig s story was so unexpected, it literally shocked me I wanted to know about him as a person, and at the end I was left with the impression that I hardly knew him at all that throughout these 600 pages I did not get to really know him or see him develop, and as much as I enjoyed his story I felt no sadness that he was gone and that it ended.I would still recommend reading the book as it contains genuinely touching moments mostly in the background, such as Craig s relationship with his brother and Raina s disabled siblings, which for me really shone in the book though sadly it is not the masterpiece that it was hailed as, and I very much wished that I had been. How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface To make a map of my movement no matter how temporary and because I couldn t decide between the two At night, lying on your back and staring at the falling snow, it s easy to imagine oneself soaring through the stars Initial Final Page Thoughts.Those last 3 pages, wow High Points.Craig.Snow Brothers Church camp Patchwork Under the pool table Cubby holes Identity Faith The future First loves Doubt It s reassuring And, of course, the illustrations.How can people say they don t like graphic novels when they look like these ones On the back of my book, Entertainment Weekly described Blankets as visual poetry and I can t help but agree It truly is wonderful Low Points.This book won t be for everyone and, I don t mind admitting this, it wasn t for me for a good 100 pages in the middle But don t worry because the other 400 pages I loved.I m not sure what it was but there was something about the feel of the story that I just wasn t getting.I also didn t know that this book was going to be so focussed on religion and Craig s struggle with his faith I m not religious but I find religion fascinating and a lot of my close friends are religious so I know how hopefully how to treat it with respect, even if I don t agree.I loved how Mr Thompson portrayed the conflict and his own personal struggles after having such an intense Christian upbringing respectfully and intelligently.I also loved that he didn t go down the whole Uhh, yeah, religion is crap But why is it crap Uh well, because it is road He actually had a reasoning for his feelings and he portrayed them honestly and without an agenda.The only problem with this is that, because I m not completely familiar with Christianity, a lot of it went over my head I can t help but think I would have enjoyed those 100 or so pages if I d known about the subject.Hero.I feel a bit strange talking about this because obviously Blankets is a memoir and Craig is uh, well real, but never mind.It s safe to say that Craig broke my heart on every single page His narration, or appropriate, his feelings which were poured on each page, had such unflinching honesty were both parts incredibly brutal and beautiful I don t want to say much because I kind of want you to meet him on your own Reaaaad it Love Interest.Oh Raina, you little dreamer I can t help but feel you would be best friends with all of John Green s heroines I m finding it quite difficult to talk about Raina and her role in her book because when you look at it from a distance it s easy to describe it as Oh yeah, it s all about first love and flirting and snowball fights and snow frolicking.And yeah, Craig s relationship with Raina and the accompanying emotions takes up about 300 pages of this book but the story really isn t anything about that.To me, it s about Craig s isolation, his struggle with his faith and his need to find his place in the world Also, there are no snowball fights but there is snow frolicking.I loved how Mr Thompson used Raina illustrate how easily people can move on from things that were so amplified at a certain point in their life, almost to the extent that they gave them definition But when you move past it and look back, you realise that it wasn t as shiny and important as you first thought Sometimes, upon waking, the residual dream can be appealing than reality, and one is reluctant to give it up But I wouldn t say that this was really a love story The pictures in this section were my favourite though, so gorgeous and striking Also, Raina can make patchwork blankets Infinite Brownie points for her Illustrations.I feel saying whether I loved these illustrations will be redundant because it s safe to say I love all illustrations I can think of three reasons why this could be 1 The illustrations truly are beautiful 2 I can t draw for toffee so I respect people who can 3 I love everything, I m boring and I m predictable Combination of all three But I really did love these illustrations and they ve brought me to come to the decision that I prefer graphic novels in black and white I adored how you could tell that each page was thought about carefully, where each panel would be placed on the page, where the dialogue bubble would go Everything, even down to the swirls in the dream pages Theme Tune.Keep Your Head Up by Ben Howard.Sadness Scale 8 10 I really want to give certain authors this book to show them the meaning behind the phrase show not tell You know in films where the best harrowing emotional scenes are told with no dialogue, minimal background music and subtlety That is what Blankets is like I can t describe it properly, and hopefully people who are familiar with graphic novels will understand what I m trying to say, but emotional scenes in graphic novels seem to somehow create a sense of distance minimal words telling you how you should feel and intimacy almost like you re looking through their living room window as their world falls apart that other books can t seem to recreate.I love books, whether they re written or graphic, that present all the pieces but leave the reader to put them together Recommended For.People who have ever struggled to figure out where they fit in with it all People who love stunning illustrations People who have ever believed their bedroom was the sea and their bed was a boat I actually used to pretend my floor was lava, I was a very strange kiddywink People who enjoy making quilts People who refuse to stand up for mediocrity People who refuse to believe in static it s always magic People who would get ignored at Church Camp.You can read this review and other exciting things on my blog here.
- 592 pages
- Craig Thompson
- 01 September 2017 Craig Thompson