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No one’s had a debut like this since Led Zeppelin

Now, don’t get me wrong; Blankets is an amazing piece of work. The thing is 300 pages of ambition the likes of which has not been seen in one chunk since 1987. However, if someone asked me for Craig Thompson’s best work, I’d be reaching back to his exceedingly smaller, talking-animal debut. Thompson re-imagines what can be done with comics every other page, and the story will make you cry and cry and cry. There is so much intelligence that went into this book that I find something new to be floored by every time, yet it all comes off as so effortless. Look at how Thompson finds a way to work vignettes into an establishing shot below:

Top Shelf Productions © Craig Thomsponart: Craig Thompson book: Goodbye, Chunky Rice publisher: Top Shelf Productions © Craig Thompson

This “picture frame” effect makes for beautiful graphic design, but would normally be unusable since it confounds reading order. However, since all the events in the scene are occurring simultaneously, as McCloud’s aspect-to-aspect transitions rather than any sort of moment-to-moment, this problem is moot.

Here’s another one of those “why didn’t I think of it first” moves:

Top Shelf Productions © Craig Thomsponart: Craig Thompson book: Goodbye, Chunky Rice publisher: Top Shelf Productions © Craig Thompson

The negative space that begins the second page of the spread immediately calls attention to itself. What possible purpose could an all blank panel serve, the eye wonders before even reaching it. This suspense reaches a hilarious outcome as the dialog is read and pondered. One of the conjoined twins laments, “I hate it when my tushies are white,” just before said panel which clearly forms the sky that continues below in the harrowing scene that follows. Putting two and two together, the intelligent reader will conclude Thompson has accomplished the heretofore impossible. He has given us the clever movie zoom/dissolve to scene change. We have zoomed in on the twin’s tan-less cheek, been overcome with white, and then pulled back to reveal that this white is now a blinding sky above a sun-baked beach years before. Genius!

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