Updated: Jan 25, 2020
GINSENG ROOTS #1
Writer: Craig Thompson
Artist: Craig Thompson
Publisher: Uncivilized Books
Over the past year or so, I've found myself really gravitating towards books/creators that I had previously never given a shot. While I had heard of the work of the Hernandez brothers (LOVE & ROCKETS) and Craig Thompson (BLANKETS), I just never took the time to read their stuff.
What a HUGE mistake that was. I've really grown to love the "slice of life" genre. I quickly grabbed as much LOVE & Rockets as I could get. But it was the work of Craig Thompson that really helped me come out of my "DC Comics, Marvel, Image and Dark Horse shell". The first book of his I read was BLANKETS. It was a beautiful and drama filled story that was unlike anything I had ever read. It showed me a side of the medium that I had otherwise never paid attention to. That is the magic of comic books and graphic novels, the wide range of stories and genres is limitless. I still have yet to find more captivating stories filled with heart and passion the way I have in comic books.
Craig Thompson reminded me why I love comic books so much. After reading more of his books, I knew I wanted more. So when he announced that he would be publishing a new serialized story at Uncivilized Books, I knew I had to have it. After reaching out to the publisher, they were kind enough to send me out an advance copy. Let me tell you, this is one of the most heartfelt and beautiful comic books you're gonna read this year.
This book tells the story of Thompson and his younger brother working in the Ginseng fields as young boys. It open up with them waking up on bed and learning that they will get a dollar an hour to work in the fields over summer vacation. Of course Thompson and his brother were huge comic book fans and wanted to spend it on comics. it was a nice touch having Thompson discuss his love of comics at a young age by illustrating some of his favorite characters in the background.
Thompson usually does his work in black and white, but decides to add different hues of red in the book. It adds a warm quality and adds to the beauty of each page. He continues to amaze me at the perfection in which he executes each page. Not only with his illustrations but his use of calligraphy with the Chinese symbols. The book is breathtaking and will have you pouring over every minute detail.
While Thompson spends equal time discussing the story of he and his brother, he also touches on the history of the ginseng root and it's importance. I feel like it adds some thing "extra" to the story that in other stories might give the reader a feeling of disconnect. Thompson seamlessly transitions between both subjects, while giving the reader interesting historical facts. By the end of the book we catch up to an older Thompson as he walks through a Chinese market and reflects on his past working in the ginseng fields.
Overall, this book is not going to be for everyone, but I can assure you that if you give it a shot you will be filled with a joy and love for cartooning that you may not have had before. It's book like these and creators like Thompson, that make my love for the medium continue to grow.