Blankets

Blankets

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....

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Title:Blankets
Author:Craig Thompson
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Blankets Reviews

  • Seth T.

    Craig Thompson, for all the lack of works in his bibliography, is one of the best creators working in comics today. Apart from

    , he has only released one other major work of fiction. (His third,

    , will be released this Fall.)

    There are any number of reasons that Thompson's work should be lauded. His art is gorgeous and his brushline expressive. He treats personal topics with a sense of both whimsy and honesty. He writes true experiences, even when they'

    Craig Thompson, for all the lack of works in his bibliography, is one of the best creators working in comics today. Apart from

    , he has only released one other major work of fiction. (His third,

    , will be released this Fall.)

    There are any number of reasons that Thompson's work should be lauded. His art is gorgeous and his brushline expressive. He treats personal topics with a sense of both whimsy and honesty. He writes true experiences, even when they're fictional. And as great as all those things are, there is one idea that stands out in his work that I've yet to see another creator tackle (let alone master) as Thompson has done.

    His sense of the sacred and his ability to convey it in ink is breathtaking. He offers his readers these holy moments, these frozen, fluid, organic treasures. These sacramentals. Whether he intends to lead the reader into a religious experience or not, his work really is very spiritual. As spiritual as an atheistic holy experience can actually be at any rate. There may be moments in Miyazaki that approach the wonder of the sanctuaries that Thompson builds in

    . It's for this reason (among others) that Thompson's second book remains one of my favourites, even years after having first encountered it.

    The sweetly disturbing sentimental journey that was seeded years earlier in Thompson's

    finds pregnant fruit in his nearly-600-page opus,

    . Semi-autobiographically chronicling (via chrono-thematic structuring) his early life—from his establishment in faith and his discovery of love to his abandonment of that love and his subsequent abandonment of faith—Thompson plays honestly at all times with his story elements, thereby lending his tale an uncanny credibility. And while flashbacks and tangents proliferate, the overarching chiastic structure verifies the reader's intuition that Thompson knows well where he is headed and is going to take you there whether you like it or not.

    Thompson's illustrated avatar acts, at all times, with striking realism and the chaos of his thoughts is entirely believable—if not exactly illustrative of the average meditative development. The Thompson that frets and plays in

    —we'll call him Craig— is highly introspective and acts often in the heat of his youthful emotional turmoil, rather than from a simple, sensible motivation. And though one may often wish to chastise him for such sillinesses, his youthful passion and pendular over-reactions will more than likely endear Craig to readers as they recognize more than a little of themselves in him.

    This book is a masterpiece of form, symbol, and structure. Tokens bend and writhe and carry narrative significance throughout. Thompson's art here is fluid and is of that less-polished variety found also in

    and serves well to establish the variety of moods described in his several vignettes.

    From the perspective of one who grew up both in a faith-community that was friendlier to the arts and in a home whose high standards weren't as strictly enforced, I found his story particularly compelling and tragic. Surrounded by hypocrisy and a weak-kneed, moralistic fundamentalism, the source of his disillusionment is not difficult to see. Perhaps

    ' greatest quality is the empathy it exerts from the reader. I pitied and cared for Craig. I felt the same for his brother, his parents. I mourned for Raina, Craig's love interest in the book. I grew despondent for her family. More than anything, I wanted to hug each of these characters and make it all right and sensible again.

    And the whole while, my anger kindled toward an institutionalization of faith whose expression was not compassion, not mercy, not love. That Craig lived in a locale whose cutural acumen was bent toward a fear and persecution of that which skewed from the status quo is a horror that can be understood (while still remaining a horror). That his subculture should behave identically, built on a foundation of fear when it ought to be built on joy, peace, and love is terrifying. Thompson's work engaged in me a fury for a people and place with which I have no experience. They may not even exist as he portrayed them, but at the least, it is a challenge for me to not hate these characters who actively tear down Craig's life even from a young age. And as someone who actively tries not to hate anyone, consider this a testament to the veracity with which Thompson draws out Craig's life and circumstance.

    is an evocative work that should not be missed by any who would appreciate a serious, heartfelt, and magical telling of the tragedy and wonder of what it means to come of age.

    [review courtesy of

    ]

  • Rauf

    Here are seven lines from

    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

    Here are seven lines from

    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.

  • David Schaafsma

    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

    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 more 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, more 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:

  • Whitney Atkinson

    I just read this in one sitting. Incredible. First graphic novel i've given 5 full stars to.

  • Orsodimondo

    ...

    Raccontare il crescere, da bambino diventare adolescente, raccontare il diventare.

    E raccontare il silenzio.

    Silenzio pieno di pensieri, ma forse anche più di emozioni.

    Che diventano mie, che sono mie, le mie che avevo a quell’epoca della vita, che in verità è uno stato dell’essere.

    Bello.

    Molto bello.

    Molto molto.

    Tenero, struggente, divertente, romantico,

    ...

    Raccontare il crescere, da bambino diventare adolescente, raccontare il diventare.

    E raccontare il silenzio.

    Silenzio pieno di pensieri, ma forse anche più di emozioni.

    Che diventano mie, che sono mie, le mie che avevo a quell’epoca della vita, che in verità è uno stato dell’essere.

    Bello.

    Molto bello.

    Molto molto.

    Tenero, struggente, divertente, romantico, profondo, acuto, geniale…

    L'educazione sentimentale di Craig andrebbe letta più volte a età diverse, dovrebbe accompagnarci nel cammino.

    Un grande Bildungsroman per tutte le età.

    Grazie Mr Thompson.

  • Algernon

    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

    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 colours

    I 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 more 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 more of these wonderful tales.

  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at:

    Contrary jerkoff party of 1? I’m here I’m here! While a 3 Star rating is most definitely a perfectly

    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

    10. I mean seriously it begins right at the cover . . .

    Très belle! And for those of you who have developed

    Find all of my reviews at:

    Contrary jerkoff party of 1? I’m here I’m here! While a 3 Star rating is most definitely a perfectly

    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

    10. I mean seriously it begins right at the cover . . .

    Très 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

    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 über 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

    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.

    there just wasn’t a whole lot of story (aside from an excuse to show readers more beautiful art) for it to be so voluminous.

    Anyway, obviously it’s just me and I read this wrong. Go read

    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

    because . . . .

    Wow. This dude is seriously goooooooood at the black and white.

  • Catriona (LittleBookOwl)

    Rating: 3.5/5 stars

  • Jace

    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

    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 more 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

    . To make matters even more 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 more 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 more 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.

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