It’s been almost eight years since I first reviewed Blankets, the amazing, beautiful and so-thick-it-could-at-least-seriously-decelerate-a-bullet graphic novel by Craig Thompson. I won’t be re-reviewing it, because upon reading through that review, I found that both A) I could barely get the review written I was so gobsmacked by the thing and 2) I still agreed with everything I had said within. Even if you don’t wish to dive into that piece of the archive, know this: I gave the book five out of cups…a perfect review. People always give me a hard time about not rating this or that highly enough, but high ratings lose their meanings unless you reserve them for the rare works of art that really deserve it. And this is one of them.
The book is about things that when I catalog them, you’ll want to skip it. It’s a coming of age story that concerns life, first love, art, faith and the awkwardness of being young and stupid before you settle into being old and stupid. But honestly, the only reason to skip the book is that Thompson so completely captures those feelings you’ll be remembering bits of your own life you didn’t want to remember. But like all good books that force you to do that, it doesn’t just leave you there, thankful that you’re old enough to not only legally buy scotch but maybe with a little socked away so you can pour the good stuff–there is a sense of triumph about it as well. A sense of moving-through. A sense of completion even within the mess of incompleteness that is life. And that, somehow, that makes it not all right, but at least bearable. Scotch or no.
[ad#longpost]The reason this book has brought us here together once more is Top Shelf has re-issued it in hardcover, much like they did with From Hell earlier. And if you want a copy of this to have for archival purposes in your library, then this is the one. There’s a new cover, the book is resized, the cover and binding are both bang-on quality and it is worth every penny. In fact, if you already own the softcover, I recommend grabbing this hardcover for your collection and making the softcover version your loaner copy. Because let’s face it…some books we should loan out and we don’t because we know loaners go missing, yes? But this book is an Important Book to Loan. And here’s why.
I like lots of graphic novels and regular-old single issue comics. I know a lot of you do too. A lot of what I dig in the comic form is some form of genre, like werewolves and westerns, or sci-fi, or people in spandex punching other people in spandex, or etc. etc. etc. This is the sort of book you can hand to somehow who thinks that when it comes to comic books that’s all there is. What I’m telling you is that this is your gateway drug for comic readers who wouldn’t ordinarily go near a comic. Tell them to read fifty-one pages. If they can get to page fifty-one and not want to read the rest, then…well, find better people to hang out with. Honestly.
The book has not aged. The book still messes with me in positive ways. And the book still makes me unable to write a coherent post about it. Well played, Mr. Thompson. Well played indeed.