Friday, January 13, 2012

Blankets (2003)

Author: Craig Thompson
Title: Blankets
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Price: Free (Public Library)
LCC: PN6727.T48 B58 2003

Forgive me, Internet for I have sinned. It's been one week since my last post. I am guilty of the sin of prejudice. I have judged a book unfairly by its cover and by its press. The sin of iniquity is upon me.

When Craig Thompson's Blankets came out, I was reluctant to read it. Upon its release in 2003, Blankets seemed to gain instant buzz for Thompson's frank discussion of his Evangelical Christian upbringing and his struggle to maintain his faith in the face of teenage sexual desire. Internet, you have to understand; by 2003, I was no longer the DC Comics fanboy I once was. I wanted to read graphic novels that contained sophisticated "adult-storytelling." Really, I did. I became a devoted fan of Love and Rockets and reveled in the now forgotten, Unstable Molecules. However, there was something about Blankets that initially hit me the wrong way, that made me resistant to giving it a shot. Maybe it was the title. Maybe I thought Blankets sounded too much like "wet blankets," as in no fun. Maybe, it was the size and the expense of the thing. Blankets is 582 pages and has a $30 cover price, which is a lot to throw down on a story by an author whom you've never read before. Regardless, Internet, the reason for my transgression matters not.

I know the real nail in the coffin came when I read some Internet review (it was so long ago, that I cannot find the link) that described the book as "emo." And suddenly, it became clear to me that I was never going to pick up this book. Emo. . . Evangelical. . . these were two American subcultures that I just could not get into. The first was whiny and wore eyeliner and the second thought I was going to hell. So, although friends and most critics raved about Blankets, I decided to take a big pass.

However, I was driving in the car the other day and I was listening to NPR's On The Point. (Hey, what do you want from me? I'm a member of the PMC; I can't help it). Tom Ashbrook was interviewing Craig Thompson who was promoting his recent graphic novel Habibi. Much to my surprise, Thompson proved that he was not a total hipster douche. In fact, he seemed like. . . dum dum dum. . . a very nice, open-minded, nonjudgmental guy.

Internet, I have seen the light.

I picked up Blankets from the local library that week. Is it nothing more than emo, narcissistic navel gazing? Well, you can describe it that way if you want. But that is not the way, I would choose to describe it. Yes, Blankets is introspective, but it is not ponderous. Yes, Blankets is lyrical, but it is not pointless. Blankets provides an honest account of trying to grow up and finding that your own ideas may be very different than those that you were brought up with. That's something that most readers can relate to, but most of us cannot express it half as well as Thompson does. If there is any real faults to the book they are that Thompson makes little effort to imagine how other characters might feel and, as Girl Detective points out, there's not a lot of humor to be found.

So, Internet, what do you say? Am I absolved? What if I promise to read this year's Harvey Award Winner for Best Original Novel? Will we be cool then?

No comments: