Per Josh’s recommendation, I picked up Craig Thompson’s Blankets today at the library and finished it within 2 hours. I never grew up reading comic books as a boy, but this was a wonderful introduction into the world of comics and ‘illustrated novels.’ After finishing it, I checked a couple of reviews on the web, and they’re pretty accurate with how I felt about the book (here and here). Basically, Craig weaves together a beautiful story of his first love. But there are really so many elements that go into this story: family history, alienation from his peers, shame over sexual abuse growing up and for not protecting his younger brother, struggle to grow into his faith while growing up in a fundamentalist Christian home, and all of this amidst trying to navigate the waters of his first love. I hope I’m not making this sound like he just writes depressingly about his past, but his voice is authentic, filled with hope and engaging.
There are some wonderful characters in the book, including Laura (Raina’s mentally-handicapped sister), Craig’s various fundamentalist pastors through his youth and Craig’s brother Phil. I loved the part when both boys were fighting one night (by peeing on each other), the part when Craig and Phil spend time together when they’re both graduated and out of high school, as well as many other scenes. It’s very much a mosaic/collage novel (very postmodern), and I found myself turning back a page often, just to make sure I didn’t accidentally skip a page – only to find out this was a jump the author intended, often strengthening the theme he was exploring. At any rate, go to the library, grab the book and spend a few hours in the illustrated life of Craig Thompson.