I've been meaning to mention Blankets by Craig Thompson here... and just hadn't gotten to it yet. I finished it recently... it's one LONG graphic novel. But, oh my goodness... it's incredibly powerful... sad and tender at the same time. There are many, many layers of narrative intertwined here... and some of the threads are tragic and very hard to read... and maybe even harder to see depicted in this very visual format... Juxtaposed with those threads is the story of first love... the story of two artists... the story of a free spirit and a spirit trapped and shaped by personal history and religion.... the story of brothers... and families... and small towns. And... there are blankets... sibling battles for blankets in a shared bed... and a special quilt made as a keepsake gift.
It was a powerful read, on many levels. That Thompson achieved such power with close to 600 pages of graphic novel "panes" is simply staggering. The sections on the relationship between Craig and Raina are the most beautiful in the piece, for sure... the story of their relationship pulls you in... but the more painful sections on his childhood give the context and subtext which create the lens through which we see and interpret that relationship. I love most the section where she asks him to paint on her walls... while she writes. A modern-day young love story, for sure... but of a love that couldn't last... yes. Beautiful despite the almost too-real and too-painful threads of personal history, yes. Not for the faint of heart... there are VERY adult and hard-to-read themes in this book... but definitely one to read for anyone interested in the graphic novel format.