Wednesday, February 13, 2008

14 Comic Book Couples I Love - Part 3

Sorry to say that this will be something a quickie post, due to Real Life Drama (I'm okay but there's trouble brewing with some friends of mine, unfortunately). I had been saving this comic book love story for #2 because it both qualified for tie status with numero uno and because it's an easy post. This isn't a famous superhero couple with loads of backstory. No, this is the simple, elegant story of two teenagers falling in love and growing up. When I say this is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read, I'm not exaggerating in the slightest. Please take the time to get to know . . .

3. Craig and Raina - from Craig Thompson's autobigraphical GN Blankets

This story moved me in a profound and personal way. The story is ostensibly about one young man's realizations about the true nature of love, religion and life in general . . . but I feel it can and will touch anyone who had a first love that changed them. This is real, lushly detailed and a rarity - in not just the world of comics or autobiographies but in the whole of storytelling. If you think you can boil this story down to "boy meets girl", well, you're right but that would be as much a sin as reducing the Mona LIsa to "that smiling chick".

It's rare that I just fall back on the quotes and raves of others but when you see who these others are, I think you'll understand why I'm using book jacket blurbs. More to the point, they summarize how this story made me feel more succinctly than I ever could.

"Thompson manages to explore adolescent social yearnings, the power of young love and the complexities of sexual attraction with a rare combination of sincerity, pictorial lyricism and taste." -- Publishers Weekly

"I thought it was moving, tender, beautifully drawn, painfully honest, and probably the most important graphic novel since Jimmy Corrigan." -- Neil Gaiman

"A rarity: a first-love story so well remembered and honest that it reminds you what falling in love feels like … achingly beautiful." -- Time Magazine
(emphasis mine)

There's a seven page preview of this book available here but it's really just an amuse bouche that doesn't give the complexity and beauty of this work justice. Thompson's artwork is as delicate and hypnotic as the first gentle snow storm of winter, both swirling and unfailingly precise. The counterpoint to his story, his aching, confused characters searching for meaning, gives the graphic novel a one-two punch prose or mere art alone never could. Blankets is on the short list of GN's I offer to people who refuse to read comic books. It's just that good.

Blankets is available for purchase online directly from the publisher's website. If you've been terrible and haven't bought your significant other a VD gift yet, you could do a helluva lot worse than surprising them with this. I'm immensely pleased to see any GN sprout up everywhere but I'm especially happy that every Borders or Barnes & Noble I've ever browsed at seems to carry a copy of this GN on their shelves. And of course, if your Local Comics Shop is awesome, they'll have at least one copy on hand. In other, less subtle words - BUY IT NOW.

Whenever I'm down on love and need a reminder of how good, transformative and beautiful it can be, this is the book I read. If Craig Thompson should ever come across this shameless plug, I just want to say thank you for making something beautiful. Thanks for letting us know that everybody falls in love, everybody hurts and everybody grows up sometime.

Happy Valentine's Day, all.

(parts 1 & 2 should be up sometime tomorrow evening)


MarkAndrew said...

Blankets always make me sniffle. People who don't like it are secretly puppy-kickers.

K. D. Bryan said...

Quite right you are - and secret puppy-kickers are the worst puppy kickers of them all.