• Great Graphic Novels: Carnet de Voyage, by Craig Thompsom

    GreatgraphicnovelsLast month I asked my friends to write about books they loved (you can read all the essays here). This month, I invited them to write about their favorite graphic novels, and they selected some excellent titles. I hope you enjoy them! (Read all the Great Graphic Novel essays here.) — Mark

    “This is not 'the Next Book', but rather a self-indulgent side-project — a simple travel diary drawn while I was traveling through Europe & Morocco from March 5th to May 14th, 2004."

    This is how Craig Thompson introduces Carnet de Voyage, his book between Blankets and Habibi and, hands-down, my favorite thing he’s done.

    It’s a canny move, saying right up front that it’s not his “Next Book.” Blankets was a genre-busting success. It won comic awards & wound up on dozens of comic & non-comic “Must Read” lists. As a 500+ page coming of age/struggling with religion story, it was the “graphic novel” that non-comic readers loved. His next book, whatever it was, was guaranteed to be sensation, this time burdened with expectations of greatness.

    So we’re told on page one not to expect anything. Totally unnecessary. It might not be the “Next Book” but it’s wonderful.

    Carnet is a travel diary — a one-day-at-a-time record of the places Thompson went, the people he met & the emotions he was feeling. Mostly he was feeling loneliness, as he’s just out of a relationship, in that phase where you’re still partially in it. Compounding the usual loss of a break-up is his ex-girlfriend’s (unexplained but seemingly serious) illness. So, alone & self-conscious of his loneliness, Thompson spends large parts of his trip achingly desperate to fall-in-love.