Craig Thompson, Blankets

Blankets is an illustrated novel not a graphic novel. I guess the distinction is important in case you thought that the story involved garish colours, super powers, big guns and intense action featuring characters with intense stares and a meaningful frown.

Like other novels in the coming-of-age sub-genre, it’s thinly-veiled autobiography but is no less beautiful for all that. American authors seem far less shy about experimenting with the way they choose to tell stories and in this, Craig Thompson is no exception. Having chosen a graphic style of telling his story of first love, the reader is struck first by the apparent simplicity of the comic-book pictures with broad strokes that could almost be lino-cut in their dense confident blackness but consider the first two lines:

“When we were young, my little brother Phil and I shared the same bed. ‘Shared’ is the sugar-coated way of saying we were trapped in the same bed, as we were children and had no say in the matter.”

Amazing. Thompson can not only draw but write too. Brevity is often the mark of the greatest writers and where no words can be found to describe the feelings of the two teenagers who embark on the first great adventure of love, so the drawings take over and convey the utter helplessness and inevitability of their passions.

For any guys reading this who’ve ever had a girlfriend who thinks that comics are ‘just stupid’ then buy her this book. It will not only shut her up but she’ll love you for it.