Sunday, December 18, 2011

Blankets: A Critical Review

Craig Thompson’s Blankets is about the author’s relationship with his first love, Raina and makes for a detailed memoir that is recommended to read. Beginning with their meeting at a church camp during their teenage years, the relationship helps Craig explore his religious beliefs, his relationship with his brother, and his belief in himself. Born into a strict Christian family, Craig begins to doubt his religion upon meeting Raina, a self-assured skeptic. Interwoven with biblical verses, Blankets explores some the disparities that Craig experienced.

The author makes use of symbols in his book, making for a unique read. At the beginning of each chapter, Craig parallels his blooming relationship with Raina to his childhood with his younger brother Phil. Having shared a bed with him throughout childhood, he experienced a sense of closeness he could only feel again with his first love. Crunching through the snow with Raina, Craig can’t help but remind himself of all the great times he and Phil had, before the age gap between them took over. He tries to recapture these feelings with Raina, but as he comes to realize about himself during Blankets, it only feels incredible to love someone if they feel the same way about you.

Another interesting aspect of Blankets is the various ages the author portrays himself at. As we saw in Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, the creation of a memoir forces the author to take on several roles. As Author Craig Thompson prepares the novel, Blankets, we are introduced to the various voices of “Young Craig”, “Teenage Craig” and “Mr. Thompson” (the Author). On page 125, for example, we are able to see the “present” thoughts of Teenage Craig interwoven with those of Author Craig. The panels of Teenage Craig leaning over the sleeping Raina are complemented by the author’s commentary: “I needed to touch her, but was hesitant.” Commentary like this is prevalent throughout the novel’s 582 pages.

(Thompson, 125)

Even though Blankets is a powerful graphic novel that is recommended, it does have some flaws. Although the majority of the account is of a very powerful memory, the ending fails to uphold the level of intensity felt throughout the rest of the book. In the beginning, Craig recounts his experiences with bullying, sexual abuse, and his failure to protect his brother, all of which are very serious topics. After this, the author dives into the topic of faith and eventually, Craig meets Raina. Raina and Craig seem to move very fast in their relationship, and fall in love quickly. They develop a strong bond as Craig observes her taking care of her disabled family and deal with her family’s divorce. However, the ending proves to be fairly anti-climatic as this powerful relationship ends after a mere phone call and some time spent apart. In this very last pages of the book, Craig is shown walking in snow (thus leaving prints in it), telling the reader “How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface. To make a map of my movement no matter how temporary” (Thompson, 581). While this ending is realistic, it seems detached from the rest of the book because there is no real plot or intensity felt during these last pages. The rest of the book, which is very powerful and full of heavy topics, seems to tower over the ending, making it hard to recognize that it is even there. Blankets, by Craig Thompson is a fast-paced and wonderful read. While the ending could have been improved, the book is realistic and interesting as the author makes use of his relationship with his brother to parallel his relationship with Raina.

Works Cited

Thompson, Craig. Blankets. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf Productions, 2006. Print.

1 comment:

Michael Hancock said...

Your review gives the reader a fine sense of the overall narrative and its major themes. Because you're reviewing a comic, something needs to be said about the visual dimension of _Blankets_. What do you think of Thompson's art? How well did it serve Thompson's story? What effect did it have on you as readers?