Blankets (graphic novel)

infobox Book |
name = Blankets
title_orig =
translator =


author = Craig Thompson
cover_artist = Craig Thompson
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Graphic novel, Memoir
publisher = Top Shelf Productions
release_date = July 23, 2003
media_type = Print (paperback)
pages = 592 p.
isbn = ISBN 1891830430
preceded_by =
followed_by = |

"Blankets" is a 600-page black-and-white graphic novel by Craig Thompson, published in 2003 by Top Shelf Productions. A memoir, the book tells the story of Thompson's childhood in an Evangelical Christian family, his first love, and his early adulthood. Thompson has said that the novel grew out of a simple idea: to describe what it feels like to sleep next to someone for the first time. "Time" magazine named "Blankets" as one of the Top Ten Graphic Novels of All Time. [ [http://www.time.com/time/2005/100books/0,24459,graphic_novels,00.html Arnold, Andrew; "All-TIME Graphic Novels"; time.com] ]

Plot synopsis

In "Blankets" there are nine chapters that describe the different intervals and events that went on in the main characters' lives with pictorial representation. The chapters as a whole follow a fairly stable chronological order. The chapters each move the story forward in present time while using flashbacks to give insight into the past, childhood, experiences of the main character. The story in itself is a narration of Craig Thompson's early years which include events that happened in his childhood, adolescent years, and a look into his adult life. Craig deals with many issues concerning coming of age and his religious beliefs, which begin with Christianity, to be foregone later in the novel.

Chapter 1: Cubby Hole

The name of this chapter comes from the special type of discipline Craig's parents would employ on his brother and himself. In this first chapter the main character, Craig Thompson, describes to us the turmoil of his early childhood years. The chapter relates the negative experiences he had at home, mainly the aspect of having to share a bed with his younger brother, Phil. Because of this we see that any problem caused by Phil was answered with the discipline of the "Cubby Hole".

Chapter 2: Stirring Furnace

The "Stirring Furnace" chapter gets its name from the furnace at the Christian snow camp that Craig would attend throughout his childhood and into his adolescent years. At the beginning of the chapter Craig relates how his house was always inadequate in the form of heating and cooling. Summers were always too hot due to poor ventilation/cooling and winters always too cold due to poor insulation/heating.

Chapter 3: Blank Sheet

"Blank Sheet" starts off with a short description of an activity both Craig and Phil did in the winter time. It involved the careful traversing of the snow that had melted, iced over again, and finally snowed upon one more time to produce an ice/snow effect that required extra careful walking. Craig also portrays the way his Sunday School teacher at his church would impose her ideas onto the children without letting them express themselves. This is a common theme seen throughout the book. Craig views this type of oppression as one of the primary factors for him leaving his faith. The relationship between Craig and Raina starts to develop further and is seen now as a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Later Craig would visit Raina and meet her family. A more involved relationship between both of them develops when he visits her.

Chapter 4: Static

The chapter "Static" was dubbed with that title because of a time when Craig and Phil were young they would witness the static buildup in their beds discharge in little energy orbs around them. They would think those static orbs were fairies or some other magical phenomena. Upon telling their parents they explained to them how it was not magic, but rather static electricity. This brings about the point that whenever you are a child you imagine and fantasize about things like that but it takes one simple explanation of what it really is to eliminate the "magic" behind it. The chapter emphasizes this throughout the narration.

Chapter 5: I Don't Wanna Grow Up

Throughout this chapter the concept of not growing up comes into play with the different happenings that occur. At the beginning of the chapter we meet Julie, Raina's older and much more narcissistic sister, along with her husband Dave, who is equally narcissistic and egotistical. Raina describes the trouble they had with Julie when she was a child, how she was the rebel of the family and always the one to cause trouble. Julie and Dave have a child named Sarah but both take their responsibility as parents very lightly. During this chapter Craig explores the different concepts of "growing up."

Chapter 6: Teen Spirit

The chapter begins with one of the childhood stories that still haunt Craig to that day. Craig only reminisces about it with such awkward feelings not because he was ashamed but because he made his parents feel ashamed. This seems to be the only thing that makes Craig so critical of his parents: the thought of embarrassing them and himself and thus bringing about shame. In this chapter Craig confesses his now developed love for Raina. Raina reacts differently than what Craig expected but does reflect upon them and also acknowledges her love for him as well. After that even Craig begins to think about the actual relationship he has with Raina. He dwells upon the fact that at night Raina is a completely different person with him than she is in the morning. At night, Raina wants to be close, but in the morning they keep each other at "arms length" as if they were only just friends.

Chapter 7: Just Like Heaven

Throughout the whole story, Craig questions what exactly Heaven is and what it means to him. Julie and Dave come back to leave the care of their child to their relatives while they go off on a vacation to Hawaii. The rest of this chapter focuses on the still escalating relationship of Raina and Craig.

Chapter 8: Vanishing Cave

Probably one of the more "self discovery" chapters in the book, the "Vanishing Cave" was a cave that Craig and Phil discovered when they were small that changed sizes throughout the year. It would start out as a gigantic cave which they could both stand inside of, then shrink into a small hole which they could only crawl into, and finally it would just be a small hole in the ground in which only one person could stand in. The chapter begins with Craig reminiscing about the day they each got their own beds and bedrooms. At first they missed having each other but as time went by they became stable in their own places. It was now time for Craig to leave Raina.

Chapter 9: Foot Notes

The last chapter of the book, here Craig explains the aftermath of what his life now is. In the first part of the chapter Craig explains how and why he abandoned his faith. He then tells how he moved out of his parents' house, and now he feels free and does not worry about what his parents think. Craig remains single while Phil gets married. Craig still visits his family during holidays and other occasions. Craig shares some words of thought and closure and the story ends.

Critical reception

"Blankets" received considerable attention in the comics and mainstream book press; it was extremely well-received and eventually won numerous awards (see below). Most critics considered it a milestone in the progress of the American graphic novel, not only in length but also in visual grace and technique. Critics have further hailed it as one of the best graphic novels in recent years, claiming that the book will be remembered for its superb execution a decade after publication. "The Bloomsbury Review" called it "a superb example of the art of cartooning: the blending of word and picture to achieve an effect that neither is capable of without the other." Time stated that Thompson's work "has set new bars for the medium not just in length, but breadth" and listed it as #1 in its annual Best Comix of the Year list. [ [http://www.time.com/time/bestandworst/2003/comics.html "2003 Best and Worst: Comics"] , "Time Magazine". Retrieved on 2008-04-04.] The book was called a "magnum opus" in the inaugural issue of (Cult)u're Magazine. [ [http://www.culturemagazine.ca/content/view/20/ "Sexuality, Art and Religion in Craig Thompson’s Blankets"] , "(Cult)u're Magazine", September, 2007. Retrieved on 2008-04-04.]

Awards

* 2004 Harvey Awards: "Best Artist", "Best Graphic Album of Original Work" and "Best Cartoonist"
* 2004 Eisner Awards: "Best Graphic Album" and "Best Writer/Artist"
* 2004 Ignatz Awards: "Outstanding Artist" and "Outstanding Graphic Novel or Collection"
* 2005 Prix de la critique

Removal from public library

In October 2006, a resident of Marshall, Missouri attempted to have "Blankets" and "Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel removed from the city's public library.cite news
first = Zach
last = Sims
title = Library trustees to hold hearing on novels
url = http://www.marshallnews.com/story/1171005.html
work = The Marshall Democrat-News
date = 2006-10-03
accessdate = 2006-10-08
] Supporters of the books' removal characterized them as "pornography" and expressed concern that they would be read by children.cite news
first = Zach
last = Sims
title = Library board hears complaints about books/Decision scheduled for Oct. 11 meeting
url = http://www.marshallnews.com/story/1171432.html
work = The Marshall Democrat-News
date = 2006-10-05
accessdate = 2006-10-08
] Marshall Public Library Director Amy Crump defended the books as having been well-reviewed in "reputable, professional book review journals," and characterized the removal attempt as a step towards "the slippery slope of censorship". On October 11, 2006, the library's board appointed a committee to create a materials selection policy, and removed "Blankets" and "Fun Home" from circulation until the new policy was approved. [cite web
url = http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=87365
title = MARSHALL LIBARAY BOARD VOTES TO ADOPT MATERIALS SELECTION POLICY
accessdate = 2006-10-12
last = Brady
first = Matt
date = 2006-10-12
work = Newsarama
] [cite news
first = Zach
last = Sims
title = Library board votes to remove 2 books while policy for acquisitions developed
url = http://www.marshallnews.com/story/1172698.html
work = The Marshall Democrat-News
date = 2006-10-12
accessdate = 2006-10-12
] The committee "decided not to assign a prejudicial label or segregate [the books] by a prejudicial system",cite news
first = Rachel
last = Harper
title = Library board ready to approve new materials selection policy
url = http://www.marshallnews.com/story/1186860.html
work = The Marshall Democrat-News
date = 2007-01-25
accessdate = 2007-01-26
] and presented a materials selection policy to the board. [cite news
first = Rachel
last = Harper
title = Library policy has first reading
url = http://www.marshallnews.com/story/1188755.html
work = The Marshall Democrat-News
date = 2007-02-08
accessdate = 2007-03-05
] On March 14, 2007, the Marshall Public Library Board of Trustees voted to return both "Blankets" and "Fun Home" to the library's shelves. [cite news
first = Rachel
last = Harper
title = Library board approves new policy/Material selection policy created, controversial books returned to shelves
url = http://www.marshallnews.com/story/1193923.html
work = The Marshall Democrat-News
date = 2007-03-15
accessdate = 2007-03-15
]

Editions

Editions are available in English, Catalan, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Italian, Czech, Polish, Slovenian, Greek and Norwegian. Additionally, the English and Dutch [ [http://www.zilverendolfijn.nl/zz/sbp/1/EN/THOMPSOC,%20%20%201/m/zd.html Two Dutch versions at Zilveren Dolfijn comics database] ] versions were available in a limited-edition hardcover volume and Polish was available with special cover jacket for those who preordered the book. There is also an accompanying soundtrack, recorded by the Portland, Oregon-based band, Tracker. The French, Spanish and Italian editions all have different cover art. First Italian edition has a red spine, while subsequent editions have a blue one.

*"Blankets" (English paperback edition) ISBN 1-891830-43-0, Top Shelf Productions

*"Blankets - Manteau de Neige" (French edition) ISBN 2-203-39608-3, Casterman, March 2004
*"Blankets" (Spanish edition) ISBN 84-95825-63-5, Astiberri Ediciones, April 2004
*"Blankets" (Catalan edition) ISBN 84-95825-67-8 Astiberri Ediciones, April 2004
*"Blankets" (German edition) ISBN 3-936068-96-8, Speed Comics, May 2004
*"Een Deken Van Sneeuw" (Dutch edition) ISBN 90-5492-119-6, Oog & Blik, May 2004
*"Blankets" (Italian edition) ISBN 88-88063-97-8, Coconino Press, November 2004
*"Pod dekou" (Czech edition) ISBN 80-7341-603-4, BB Art, November 2005
*"Blankets. Pod śnieżną kołderką" (Polish edition) ISBN 83-922963-7-0, Timof i Cisi Wspólnicy, December 2006
*"Blankets" (Greek edition) ISBN 9608945356, Εκδόσεις ΚΨΜ, March 2007
*"Tepper" (Norwegian edition) ISBN 978-82-429-3051-4 Egmont Serieforlaget AS,2006

References


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