Tung's Reviews > Blankets
by Craig Thompson
by Craig Thompson
I began my 2011 reading year on a graphic novel kick, and saw all the acclaim given to this book (3 Harvey Awards and 2 Eisners) so I had to pick it up. Blankets is Thompson’s autobiographical reflection of his childhood in a strict religious family – specifically how he struggled with his faith (mainly all of the guilt that pervades many religious teachings), his church (he found youth groups hypocritical), and his niche in school (he was an outcast at school and at church). He meets a girl named Raina and falls in love with her. The book does a great job of conveying his evolving feelings for her – from initial meeting to the long distance correspondence to the two weeks he spends at her house after convincing his parents to let him go out-of-state to visit his new friend. And while the focus of the book is on Craig’s first true love, there is also this subplot of Craig’s relationship with his younger brother Phil. The art styling reminded me of both Maus and Persepolis – thick black lines, lots of cross-hatching, and faces with subtle and nuanced expressions. And as in both Maus and Persepolis, the characters portrayed negatively (pretty much all the religious folks) are shown towering over the main character imposingly, with sharper and thicker lines and shading. Overall, I had mixed feelings about the book. My big criticism is that the story is fairly cliché: strict, overbearing religious upbringing? Check. Small Midwestern town? Check. Protagonist who is rather artsy and doesn’t fit in with the regular crowd? Check. Free-spirited girl who sweeps protagonist off his feet? Check. On the other hand, even though the story is familiar, it is well-told and well-illustrated. I didn’t find it as overwhelmingly amazing as the cover quotes indicated it might be, but it is well worth a read, if only to admire the artwork. Recommended.
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