July 15, 2010

On Blankets

I continue to feel that I read graphic novels, or whatever you want to call them, way too fast. A good part of this is that there are far fewer words per page in a graphic novel than in a more traditional novel. Description is laid out in pictures instead of words, saving the reader much time. I think that having pictures creates a stickiness for the reader. The force of the speed pulls you through and makes you want to continue until the end. I'm a fairly quick reader of text, but there's no sense of momentum built up in reading even quick reads as there is in graphic novels. The pile in your left hand grows at the expense of the pile in the right.

One caveat is that this process happens best when the art is there to serve and enhance the story, instead of moving into the foreground and becoming the story itself. Craig Thompson's _Blankets_ uses such transparent art. He uses the genre to pull the reader into the world he created (and recreated from memory), immersing you into his own sort of memories. The novel is a brilliant evocation of the late teenage years. It is a story about love and finding yourself and coming to terms with who you are and brotherhood. It is life, split and worked into a nice and believable narrative arc. The story is alternately heartwarming and heartbreaking and entirely worth your time.