What I’ve Been Reading – Blankets/Persepolis

Okay, before I start, let’s lay this on the table.

What I’ve Read:

Blankets by Craig Thompson
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

There may be nothing more refreshing for someone who’s fallen off of the Reading Wagon than plowing through a 600-page graphic novel in a few hours, and certainly nothing more rewarding than doing it twice in a week. There’s this feeling of All Caps ACCOMPLISHMENT paired with All Caps RELIEF, like a baseball player hitting his way out of a slump.

BlanketsThat being said, I was initially concerned that my love for these two books – especially Craig Thompson’s Blankets, which was the first book I’d finished in months – is coincidental to the situation: I finally finished something of some heft, and the afterglow is hazing my rationality.

Thankfully, there’s a case against this: both books are fantastic.

Blankets’ heart-twanging, emo-without-being-tragic nature – it’s McSweeney’s without the pretention and twee – keeps popping up in my mind, much as Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan continues to do. The power of the story resonates. The illustrations are burned into my brain. I am glad I was finally able to find a copy, and I don’t feel a bit of remorse in paying $20 for a book I rushed through and was finished with in three hours.

PersepolisAnd Persepolis – itself not as much of a riveting narrative as much as a clear look at Iranian culture, personal growth and the fight for emotional freedom – gave me the kind of insight into foreign culture that I rarely stumble upon anymore. It is an intimate look at war, but it’s a look at war from the eyes of a child turned college student turned grown woman; the war itself becomes a character, not a focus, as Marjane pushes through life in spite of the constant bombings and prejudice.

I won’t pretend to be any kind of graphic novel connoisseur, but these two things are true: Blankets is a beautiful story framed by beautiful illustration, and Persepolis is an important story framed by important context.

Yeah. I’m pretty impressed, and not just with myself. For once.

This was lovingly handwritten on December 23rd, 2010