Craig Thompson: Essential Reading List
With all this uncertainty going on in the world and the lack of new comics coming out, now’s the perfect time to start branching out and trying new books! I couldn’t think of a better creator for people to try out than Craig Thompson. Thompson’s work has captured the hearts of many and I’m sure he will yours too. Here’s a list of one of the most prolific cartoonists in comics:
At over 600 pages, Blankets chronicles the life of Craig Thompson: a young boy who would do whatever it takes to escape the traumatic life he’s lived. Deep down, he wants to be an artist, but under the strict rule of his parents, Craig’s directed away from art and looks to god as his escape from the unfulfilling life he’s lived. All of this comes to a halt when Craig goes to Church camp and meets a girl named Raina. Blankets is a quiet, beautiful, and heartrending story of first loves, questioning faith, the traumas that form us, and ultimately following your heart. Craig Thompson’s autobiographical tale of growing up in the Midwest touched the hearts of many when it debuted in 2003, winning tons of awards and is still highly regarded by many as one of, if not the best graphic novel of all time.
GOOD-BYE CHUNKY RICE
This is Craig Thompson's first full-length graphic novel. Filling out at just a little over 100 pages, we follow a cute turtle named Chunky Rice as he embarks on his journey of leaving home. You may think this book is directed towards children as it features a talking turtle and his best friend, Dandel—which is talking mouse—, but Good-Bye Chunky Rice is a deeply emotional story of the pain of leaving home and the people you love behind.
Craig Thompson’s 700-page epic pairs you with Dodola, a young girl living in a fictionalized version of the middle east, who prostitutes herself to get enough food and water to take care of the little boy she’s taken under her wing, Zam. Habibi showcases the way women are oppressed and sexualized in other parts of the world and the length one is willing to go to take care of the person they love. While this may be one of Craig Thompsons most divisive works, this is sure to be one that will stick in your mind for a long time.
CARNET DE VOYAGE
This book is a travelogue that Thompson sketched in as he traveled the world to prep for his next graphic novel (which would later become Habibi.). Carnet De Voyage showcases what it’s like to travel alone and seeing the life of a young cartoonist trying to make sense of the world is a very interesting and unique comic that you won’t find very often.
This one is a whimsical tale about a family trying to get reunited. A young, human girl named Violet, who feels like an outsider being a human in an alien world, gets sent on an adventure of a lifetime as her father goes missing. Violet befriends two aliens and it’s up to them to go find her father and return him home safely. Hijinx ensues as Violet forms a great friendship with these two aliens. Space Dumplins is a feel-good adventure that anyone can relate to.
While this book is still a little less than halfway done, it’s already showing signs of being one of Craig Thompson’s best works. Thompson brings you back to his upbringing in rural Wisconsin as him and his younger brother, Phil, grew up on the fields picking rocks and Ginseng roots as their summer jobs. Part memoir, part look into the history of Ginseng, I have no doubt Thompson will hit another one out of the park with this story of brotherhood and impending adulthood.