Recently I read Blankets by Craig Thompson (well, to be absolutely precise, mostly read with some skimming). I know quite a few of you have adored this graphic novel. I found it to be one of the most overrated and self-indulgent graphic novels I've ever experienced.
What were my problems with it?
- There's little sense of character development. The main character has a lot of guilt and problems with his ultra-religious family and conflicts over faith, but I felt like I didn't ever really find out why he had those issues, especially with his faith.
- There's no payoff. Word up, literary writers -- you can skip the climax if you want, but it just makes you look selfish and sends me running into the arms of genre writers who may not be as brilliant as you think you are, but at least understand my needs (and yes the sexual implications are intentional).
- The plot is simplistic. Boy mopes, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy mopes more, boy's family sucks, Christians suck. Things happen, but I'm not sure why I should care -- it rather reminded me of someone who posts every little detail on LiveJournal, including what they had for lunch, but doesn't ever actually say anything that gives you any insight into who they are.
- I'm more than willing to admit this is a personal thing that won't bother a lot of people, but the depiction of Christianity and Christians was relentlessly negative with little reasoning offered for why. I'm more than willing to admit that some Christians are jerks, but all of them?
- Everything is so cute and twee, in a story that's not really cute at all. I felt like the writer was saying "look at me! Isn't this adorable?"
This is the second Craig Thompson book that I've read, and at this point I feel it's safe to say he's just not for me. Yet I can't help but feel like I'm missing something, that if I were a little bit deeper I would get it and love it... But there it is, for what it's worth.
For a more nuanced look at life in a small town in the middle of nowhere, I'd recommend The Waiting Place by Sean McKeever. Excellent.