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Craig Thompson - American comic artist
"Craig Thompson" is a name the media can't seem to stop dropping lately. And he deserves it. Although I hate his guts and yet I don't.
You know when a review starts off this way there's going to be some kind of interesting story behind it. And I won't hold back in telling it.
Like practically any other comic artist, I've considered doing a more serious, personal story one day, and of course the obvious subject is the childhood and youth. Then, August 2003, I'm in my habitual comics store and my usual 'comics consultant' pushes a heavy, 600 page book in my hands that's just out and claims I should really try it. He shortly explains what it's about and although his summary didn't sound too inspiring, the drawings were poetic and inspiring enough to make me want to buy it. Yes, I bought and own an example of the very first edition of "Blankets", the graphic novel nobody seems to be able to shut up about.
I then went on to my habitual bar and while they were installing some new lights I decided to flip through it a bit. The story sucked me in completely and three hours later I gasped for air and realised reality wasn't actually composed of fluent, soft, dreamy poetic lines in black and white, after all. I had to blink several times and look around me.
Blankets is genius work. His earlier short graphic novel "Good-bye, Chunky Rice" is also awe-inspiring with characters that you don't realise grow on you after only a few appearances. I also recently had a chance to look at a "Hellboy" story he wrote and drew, and even that was impressive, poetic, different -- great stuff.
Craig Thompson appeared practically out of nowhere and the world loves him. Blankets is a 600 page, black-and-white book, and within a year of its appearance they're on the third print, or is it fourth already ? They're flying across the shelves, just like his other work !
So if I'm so damn impressed, why can't I stand him ? Because he made a 600 page masterpiece that basically tells the same story I wanted to tell, 30 times better than I could have done, he wrote and drew it in just a few years' time, and worked for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and Nickelodeon 'on the side, to pay the bills'. And this guy is only 3 years older than I am.
Part of me wants to buy everyone I know Thompson's books to show them how great comics CAN be, and how wonderful his work is. Another part wants to shout out to the world that Thompson went ahead and showed us what it's like to be a COMIC ARTIST, and that most calling themselves that, including myself, are full of it and need to get their gears into action and try to climb up to this level. He really raised the bar for us all, and though that's exciting, it's also frustrating. But the largest part of me has read Blankets and recognized so damn much in the storylines, characters, settings, events, etcetera that I'm now constantly checking wether or not I'm being spied on with hidden cameras.
The link leads to his site where you can look around at his artwork, peek at a few of his books, and much much more. You are hereby obliged to click the link. Click it, damnit. Or never call yourself a comics fan again.
Click here to surf Craig Thompson's site for yourself