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September 2015

Blankets (Craig Thompson)

What can I say about this graphic novel?!?!?!

READ IT.  NOW.

I was never a huge fan of the graphic novel until recently.  In fact, the moment I was converted was a quiet afternoon at work; my colleague and I were randomly browsing the Junior Fiction.  Enter Jane, the Fox and Me by Fanny Britt.  Suddenly I realised that graphic novels weren't all science fiction, fantasy and reluctant male readers.  The illustrations in Jane, the Fox and Me are beautiful, as is the story.  I have a colour photocopy of one of the illustrations on my fridge, which involves Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre caressing a swim-suited sausage.  Graphic novels, why had I forsaken you????

So fast-forward to Blankets.  It's a hefty read at 600+ pages.  But it's a graphic novel so it's not a dense or taxing read.  But it still takes time.  There were moments when I would stop and just gaze upon one certain picture, or read a few words and then shift my focus to each detail in the beautiful, beautiful illustrations.  "Reading" the graphics of the novel made me realise something... a picture truly does paint a thousand words.  Some of the sequences were just pictures, and often I found myself wondering, what words I would use to describe the pictures I was seeing?  How many pages of text to describe this one scene?  And that's the beauty of it, my words could change and morph depending on what I focused on - they weren't restricted.  It was a liberating reading experience.

Blankets is a moving, somewhat autobiographical tale of a boy growing up in a poor, rural town with a younger brother and Christian fundamentalist parents.  It is also a story of his first love, and how his experience of love is shaped by this upbringing.  The narrator reflects upon his experiences and choices within the teachings of his faith, and eventually comes to his own conclusions.

It's not s story with a rollicking, action packed plot.  It's not a story with a great romance and a happily ever after ending.  It's a simple tale, peppered with vignettes of childhood and adolescence that are universal in theme.  Craig Thompson has taken a story that is ordinary, and made it something special.  It's like nothing else, and it's totally awesome.

I repeat.  READ IT.  NOW.  (Only suitable for more senior readers though, so keep that in mind!)


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