The Brilliance of Craig Thompson!

Hello Beautiful Thinkers,

habibi_05aI caught myself longing to buy Craig Thompson’s newest book Habibi again when I was at Barnes & Noble the other day.  I successfully resisted the urge to spend the money I don’t have, but I thought I’d spend today’s entry talking about the first book I read that lead me to my love of this graphic novelist’s work.  I first read Craig Thompson for a class when we were assigned his book Carnet De Voyage.

This is actually an odd way to be introduced to Thompson’s work because it’s about his travels on an international tour for his award-winning book Blankets, which was published in nearly twenty languages inspiring the international tour.  Carnet De Voyage makes reference to his earlier works, which was weird for me since I hadn’t read them and didn’t know exactly what they were.  In this book he also documents some of the research he did for Habibi, an interesting transitory story about where he’s been to where he’s going next as a storyteller.

Blankets_coverThe thing that’s interesting about both Blankets and Carnet De Voyage, other than their actual stories, is the writing style.  Blankets is an autobiographical story and Carnet De Voyage is a nonfiction travel journal, but both genres are rarely written in the graphic novel format that Thompson uses for his other works.  It’s not unheard of to have nonfiction graphic novels but some have credited Thompson with brining more attention to this mix of genre and format than any other author, especially considering the many awards he won for Blankets.

In Carnet De Voyage Thompson touches on the poverty that he encountered during his travels as well as the cultural differences he found when he was brought into people’s homes in other countries.  He also isn’t afraid to touch on the more graphic details, like his stomach’s inability to handle other countries’ food and brings a bit of comedy to an uncomfortable situation by using a much less realistic cartoon character to represent him.  This creature cartoon gives you a slightly more grotesque idea of the animal characters he used in his other story Good-bye Chunky Rice.

The book almost feels like an illustrated diary as Thompson adds self-deprecating humor and self-analysis to his writing.  He travels through Barcelona, the Alps, France, and Morocco, noticing the difference between these cultures and the reception he received in each of them.

Carnet_de_voyageI think that while the art throughout the book is beautiful and shows off the range of different levels of realism he can achieve, it is really only hinting at his abilities as an artist.  From skimming through the pages of Habibi I’d say that if you’re impressed by his work in Carnet De Voyage you’d be blown away by Habibi.  Of his four full-length books, Carnet De Voyage and Good-bye, Chunky Rice are a little easier on your wallet to get you started on your soon-to-be obsession with Thompson’s work.

photoKeep Learning Beautiful Thinkers,

The Boy In The Heart Shades

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