3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Blankets (Paperback)
Blankets is a autobiographical graphic novel by Craig Thompson. Written chronologically, Blankets starts with Craig's relationship with his younger brother, Phil, when they are both young children growing up in a strict religious environment. Thompson's art is often quite sparse with a lot of blunt lining, but during scenes with Phil the art takes a turn for the bold and almost hallucinogenic as the boys imagine their bed has turned into a ship and Craig has fallen overboard. Occasionally getting into arguments and punished by their strict parents, as much as the brothers annoy and aggravate each other, they always came back to bed to huddle together from the cold outside. Rural Wisconsin is a lonely place with severe winters, and snow is a prevalent theme throughout - blanketing, suffocating, beautiful or transient as it melts away.
Craig's experiences with religion are also strong throughout his childhood and into adolescence. He regularly attends church and instilled with the fear of the Lord (including some very claustrophobic paneling when his parents discover he has drawn a "rude" picture of a naked lady and tell him that he has been influenced by Satan), but it is also how he meets his first love, at a so-called Bible Camp. Raina is drawn with lots of curvy lines and soft shading that contrasts with the rather straight, lanky lines that make up Craig's graphic equivalent (sometimes only a triangle for a nose and sharp elbows are visible under all his layers of clothes). They begin a shy first love as they correspond in letters over the following year, but it is always the winter that is theirs, and it is then Raina invites Craig over to meet her family. But as Craig discovers, not all is well with Raina and her family.
It is obvious that Blankets is a labour of love. While Craig Thompson's art isn't the most intricate or impressive style I have ever seen, it gives a sense of roughness and personality that compliments the subject matter. Meanwhile, more abstract sections of art, such as Craig and Phil's imagined adventures and Craig's daydreams about Raina, are imbued with a sense of passion - they almost seem to soar off the page - and a more outright testament to Thompson's talent. Blankets has a sense of sincerity that transcends the confines of the comics medium and makes Blankets an unforgettable, bittersweet story of the loves and losses of growing up. Like the blankets that keep young Phil and Craig warm and the quilt Raina makes Craig in the beginnings of their relationship, reading Blankets is a return to the warmth of youth in a cold climate.