Carnet De Voyage NM Craig Thompson Blankets 1st print


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Carnet De Voyage (Travel Journal) Paperback
by Craig Thompson (Author, Artist)

Craig Thompson spent three months traveling through Barcelona, the Alps, and France, as well as Morocco, researching his next graphic novel, Habibi. Spontaneous sketches and a travelogue diary document his adventures and quiet moments, creating a raw and intimate portrait of countries, culture and the wandering artist.

“They say ‘Wherever you go, there you are….’ I thought with Morocco, I’d be setting out on some exotic adventure, but it turns out I’m just a simple, quiet fellow.” So writes Thompson in this travel sketchbook chronicling two months of wandering through Africa and Europe, sometimes as tourist, sometimes as a famous cartoonist on tour. Rather than a narrative follow-up to the award-winning Blankets, this diary reveals both Thompson’s creative strengths and weaknesses. Although more or less spontaneous, the book still shapes the material into something of a narrative, the continuing themes being Thompson’s self-conscious love of beauty, his sense of isolation and the gradual physical deterioration of his hands due to arthritis and over-drawing. Thompson is honest enough to confront his own self-absorption (he makes constant references to his own whininess), but this recognition reveals that Blankets’ naïveté is more studied than it first appears. Many of the elements that made Blankets so successful are here, not least among them Thompson’s incredible, lush line-work and telling detail. Every person he meets is captured with a keen eye and a lively brush, and entries such as one recounting his fascination with Gaudí’s architecture in Barcelona, or a day spent with fellow cartoonist Blutch discussing artistic muses, are both thought provoking and touching.

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Top Shelf

Craig Thompson’s epic 600 page graphic novel, BLANKETS is one of the most beautiful comics I’ve ever read. I was astounded at the breadth and depth of the book and wondered how someone in his mid twenties could have crafted such a massive achievement so early in his career.

With the publication of CARNET DE VOYAGE, I now understand a little bit more about Thompson’s work habits… he is a nonstop drawing machine. But no… machine is wrong… there’s nothing mechanical about his work. Art flows out of Thompson’s brush pens with the organic fluidity of a true master. He may well be the greatest natural cartoonist of his generation… hell, even a handful of others.

CARNET DE VOYAGE wasn’t even supposed to be a book. While traveling through France, Barcelona, the Alps and Morocco last Spring to promote BLANKETS, Thompson’s omnipresent sketchbook suddenly became his next project. In his introduction, the typically self-effacing artist dismisses it as “a rather self-indulgent side project.”

Yes, there’s lots of self-indulgence, but no more than any other writer or artist’s work is self indulgent. Smarting from a recent breakup, suffering from crippling rheumatoid arthritis exacerbated by nonstop signings, sketches and portraits of locals (many of whom demand money for the privilege of being models), Thompson’s travelogue is filled with the kind of subjective experience that’s only interesting to others if it’s told well.

And in CARNET DE VOYAGE, it’s told beautifully. Mixing his two styles, the cartoony whimsy of GOODBYE, CHUNKY RICE with the more naturalistic impressionism of BLANKETS, Thompson allows us to experience everything he does: The homesickness, the culture shock, the thrill of the new and the comfort of other people. His passion for beauty, be it architectural, arboreal, feline, culinary or (often) feminine is all delineated with an artistic embellishment that’s more effective than any photograph could be.

That’s the power of comics; They can be (in the right hands) surreal and realistic at the same time. Thompson is as much a master of capturing the empirical world as he is conveying his inner demons (and he’s got a lot of `em… this boy is one tortured, sensitive artiste). He may dismiss CARNET DE VOYAGE as “not (his) next book,” but it’s the richest, most rewarding graphic novel I’ve read since… well, since BLANKETS.

Near mint, 1st print.