Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Blankets: A must read graphic novel

As I discussed yesterday, I love snow, especially playing in the snow. What I also love is coming in after playing in the snow and thawing my body out with a hot shower. Then a homemade quilt, a cup of coffee or hot chocolate with a book is all I want. I normally use snow days to reread favorite books: a Harry Potter novel, Little House in the Big Woods, Ovid's Metamorphosis, etc. Another fall back is Blankets by Craig Thompson.

Until Blankets, I had read a few  wonderful graphic novels (Maus, Persepolis), but I still regarded graphic novels as fat, over rated comic books. I liked the idea of the graphic novel as a novel, but I still hadn't found a "novel" in these graphics. Blankets was discovered on a rare trip to Barnes and Noble. The serene blue cover popped out amongst the bold primary colors of bulky superheroes.

I read the book in one sitting. The complex story that wove childhood, adolescence, and adulthood's evolution not only through life's experiences, such as love, but also through religion. 

“It was nearly impossible for me to accept that a group of people could adhere to the same belief, to be one in heart and mind, much less join together in a constructive goal. The personal Savior concept of Christianity is what appealed to me, the Good Shepherd neglecting the herd to search for the lonely, lost lamb…not this mass mentality.”
from Blankets

At the time of purchasing the book, I was in my second year of grade school, and a non-church goer. The book's simple approach to religion and how life pulls us to or away from God appealed to me. Blankets is autobiographical. His whimsical drawing style is balanced with aspects of realism and he is able to tackle very poignant topics, such as child abuse, teenage sexuality, etc. The flashback aspects were not cliche, cheesy, or a cop out; instead they enhanced the story in a way that flashbacks rarely do. The book balances his childhood with his brother and his first true love perfectly. 
To me, Blankets is one of the rare graphic novels who truly lives up to its genre; the masterfully drawn illustrations enhance a strong autobiography. Everyone can read this wonderful piece of literature and get something soulful from it.

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