Having graced the top of numerous “Best Graphic Novels of All Time” lists for almost a decade, I decided it was finally time for me to pick up a copy of Blankets by Craig Thompson and give it a try. Blankets is a coming of age autobiography about the author’s first time falling in love, his life in an Evangelical Christian family, and his struggle with religion. In 2004, the graphic novel won numerous awards including the Harvey Award for Best Artist, and the highly coveted Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album.
Upon starting Blankets, I was immediately drawn into Thompson’s story through his gorgeous illustrations. Despite the somewhat cartoony style, the illustrations in Blankets nevertheless conveyed the confusion and turmoil of growing up to the reader with ease. In fact, Thompson’s cartoonish style of drawing somewhat reminded me of Art Spiegelman’s Maus, which is probably the greatest autobiographical graphic novels of all time (at least in my opinion). Unfortunately, my love for Blankets only went so far as the illustrations. While I was really drawn into Thompson’s story at first, I started to find Blankets less and less enticing as the book went on. As the graphic novel got closer to the end, I sadly began to realize that there would be no satisfactory conclusion to this story. Instead, I was left with a hundred questions about the author’s life and no real answers. While I can admire Thompson’s exploration of religion and his use of symbolism throughout the novel, I guess the romantic in me was hoping for a happily ever after when it came to the story’s love plot.
Just because I didn’t enjoy Blankets, however, doesn’t mean that most readers won’t love it. Based on the number of awards and positive critical acclaim that this graphic novel has amassed over the years, many people have read and loved this story. Even though I was disappointed by the ending of Blankets, there were a number of scenes throughout the book that were both inspiring and memorable, and I will forever look back to its beautiful illustrations with a heartfelt fondness.