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Blankets Paperback – August 18, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Revisiting the themes of deep friendship and separation Thompson surveyed in Goodbye Chunky Rice, his acclaimed and touching debut, this sensitive memoir recreates the confusion, emotional pain and isolation of the author's rigidly fundamentalist Christian upbringing, along with the trepidation of growing into maturity. Skinny, naive and spiritually vulnerable, Thompson and his younger brother manage to survive their parents' overbearing discipline (the brothers are sometimes forced to sleep in "the cubby-hole," a forbidding and claustrophobic storage chamber) through flights of childhood fancy and a mutual love of drawing. But escapist reveries can't protect them from the cruel schoolmates who make their lives miserable. Thompson's grimly pious parents and religious community dismiss his budding talent for drawing; they view his creative efforts as sinful and relentlessly hector the boys about scripture. By high school, Thompson's a lost, socially battered and confused soul-until he meets Raina and her clique of amiable misfits at a religious camp. Beautiful, open, flexibly spiritual and even popular (something incomprehensible to young Thompson), Raina introduces him to her own less-than-perfect family; to a new teen community and to a broader sense of himself and his future. The two eventually fall in love and the experience ushers Thompson into the beginnings of an adult, independent life. Thompson manages to explore adolescent social yearnings, the power of young love and the complexities of sexual attraction with a rare combination of sincerity, pictorial lyricism and taste. His exceptional b&w drawings balance representational precision with a bold and wonderfully expressive line for pages of ingenious, inventively composed and poignant imagery.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Thompson's Good-bye, Chunkie Rice (Top Shelf, 1999) offered readers well-realized but fantastic characters in a tale that nicely combined sentiment with adventure. This second, much longer work shares the acuity for character development and dynamic sensitivity that makes the author so compulsively readable. In Blankets, however, realism reigns supreme in both the story arc and in the humanity of its characters. Thompson himself is the protagonist, and this is his tale of growing up, falling in love (and realizing the physical and moral complications that can imply), discovering the texture and limits of his faith, and arriving at a point from which he can look back at those experiences. The snowy Midwest, peopled by overweight parents, hairy youths, and lovingly depicted younger siblings-including a respectfully and realistically treated minor character with Down syndrome-is energetically realized in Thompson's expressive lines and inking. Much of the story occurs when Craig and his brother Phil are young boys and includes images of such boyish pranks as peeing on one another. Older high school students who have reached an age when nostalgia is possible will warm to Thompson's own wistfulness. This is a big graphic novel, in concept and successful execution.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Top customer reviews
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Blankets is a heartwarming tale of a middle class boy struggling to achieve social credibility and acceptance, while remaining to to himself. It's about love as much as it is about faith. They are connected. Thompson ponders his place in the universe as a boy who got bullied and did not fit in that just wanted to draw. Then, he matures into a young man that must make the major decision as to what he wants to do with his life.
Craig Thompson is totally honest in Blankets as he reflects on his failures and life decisions in full. I think everyone can relate to this book. Craig is more than a character by the end, he is your friend, he is you. I believe that most readers will greatly relate and empathize with Craig at some point in Blankets.
His illustrations are beautiful and often moving. He captures facial expressions and the Midwest American lifestyle with such a clear understanding of the people who live therein. Thompson develops an honest verisimilitude with his thoughtful narration and quaint drawings. They are as captivating as any great artwork I've seen in graphic novels. Craig Thompson should be proud of this book. It's wondrous in its scope and insight into his life.
Blankets reminds me very much of Craig Thompson's peers in the autobiographical graphic novel medium such as Will Eisner's A Contract with God Trilogy and Eddie Campbell's ALEC comic books. For more coming of age books like Blankets, the graphic novel This One Summer is very similar in it's grounded approach to young people. If you like the love story in Blankets, then I would recommend Blue Is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh. If you liked any of these books, Blankets is for you. By the same note, if you end up loving Blankets as I did, I would highly recommend these other books to you.
There is so much raw beauty to be found in this book. The inescapable memories of first love, the ever-personal struggle with religion, and the importance of family are just some things touched upon. It's also very well written and delicately and tastefully drawn, especially Craig, the main character's, thoughts. There's this one part where Craig says goodbye to his girlfriend, with whom he has a long-distance relationship. The next panels show her driving away. When her car is out of sight, the final panel is of her car driving off a nonexistent cliff. I don't know about you, but when I see somebody that I love leaving, that's exactly how I feel.
This is one of the most beautiful things I have read. Craig Thompson is a genius.
Premise is simple enough. You have a young boy and his brother living in rural Wisconsin. You have religious parents with no lack of authority, and a community full of "jerks". You have bullies in high-school and you have religion as an escape mechanism from plights of this world. You have a winter-camp, pretty girl and falling in love. You have a road trip, or something very similar to it and you have emotional growth connected to it. You have a disillusion and maturing, you have fears, hopes and longing. In other words, you have elements of everyone's life - rearranged a bit to suit a purpose of a story - laid out on close to a 600 pages. It could've gone to blatant cliché or it could've been boring as hell. Fortunately, it wasn't neither.
Though elements are familiar, their representation isn't. Thompson is skillful artist (which becomes more obvious in the "Habibi") and the way in which he manages to construct panels to show, indicate and cause emotions is something to behold. His line can be either simple or endlessly complex (reminiscent of arabesque or techniques of expressionism), extremely manipulative or perfectly innocent and much of the power that lies in this book does come from the Art itself, words merely supplement the picture.
And "Blankets" is powerful, have no doubt about it. It takes you back to a place and events you never quite forgot, it makes you wonder what if, it makes you pick up a phone and make a call (though You know it would be a wrong move and nothing good could come out of it), it gives you this feeling that, despite everything, world really is a wonderful place. Thompson is very careful about it, more careful than many an author out there. He never idolizes the past (though sometimes he does `preach' about it from an older perspective), nor does he dwell in it. He uses it as a fuelling ground, using his art to represent a moment (or few) that made him what he is today (moment we all, in some part, share with each other). At the same time, this is a book about personal experience and a book about `being human'.
Do you recall most famous blanket in the history of comics? If you recalled Linus's security blanket from "Peanuts" you recalled right. What Charles Schulz did in a series of cartoons, Thompson did on a more complex level. "Blankets" is a story about insecurities and various mechanisms that we use to overcome them. World is dark and full of terror (or so the saying goes), and sometimes you need a blanket under which you can devise your own world, with its own rules. Eventually, you'll have to get out (Thompson uses the famous dialogue from Plato's "Republic" to indicate this). World will not change, but you'll be more prepared.
The author's understanding of "Christianity" is pretty common, and also inaccurate, but that is his Baptist pastor's fault, and their "straining at a gnat, and swallowing a camel teachings. Such as; attending art school is wrong because you draw nudes, and that leads to porn addiction? By that logic, so does being a Doctor who actually touches the bodies, right?
I did like how Craig concluded the relationship with Raina, smart man. Overall the story was familiar, well executed, and the artwork is great.