Monday, August 5, 2013

Habibi, Craig Thompson

I fell in love with comics at a young age, but it took a more educated, experienced mind to appreciate the emotional depths that graphic novels and comics can evoke with their combination of literary story telling and breathtaking illustrations. Craig Thompson, as the author of multiple graphic novels including the award winner Blankets, weaves an ambitious web of art and myth in his 2011 publication, Habibi.

Habibi tells the story of an escaped slave girl, Dodola, who escapes with another slave's baby, Zam, and raises him in poverty with the stories of Islamic and Eastern lore. Their love and devotion to each other is tested by their various shared and individual experiences, as sex, power, and racial identity threaten to tear them apart.

Indeed, Habibi features some intense instances of violence, racism, and sexual savagery. There's quite a lot to be said about this novel in terms of its mature content. For the sake of not trying to lead anybody's personal reading experience, all I will say is that this is a work to be celebrated for it's dramatic imagery, and complex amalgamation of language scripts, iconography, and Eastern art.

The intertwining of Dodola and Zam's histories with stories and myths make for a complex, earthy reading experience, massive in scope. I don't recommend reading this novel as any sort of depiction of modern Arabic culture, but rather as it's own narrative, enhanced by the rich story telling tradition of the Middle East.

Maybe reviewing this graphic novel as my first feature from that medium is a bit like shoving a non swimmer straight into the deep end of the swimming pool. I was extremely excited by the visual feast that Thompson has constructed, and eager to put together a post! If you're new to graphic novels, definitely check out Blankets (see right), his earlier Eisner Award winning graphic novel. It's a darling coming of age story about love and opening up to your own spiritual identity that I also heartily recommend! Blankets is admittedly a bit more user friendly, but not a bit less beautiful than the epic of Habibi.

I certainly plan on reviewing more graphic novels. It makes up a pretty good chunk of my reading these days, and thankfully I constantly have friends recommending new titles!

No comments:

Post a Comment