|A contract with God.|
Will Eisner's novel is very raw and unflattering. It follows the events of a number of characters with no apparent relationship to each other, as they struggle to get through life while facing all kinds of hardships. It deals with subjects like rape, alienation, poverty, death, alcoholism and abuse to name a few. Admittedly, this novel was very emotionally challenging for me to read, and at times I had to put it away because it was hard to bring myself to read any further. That said, these are important subjects to deal with, and even more important for people with little or no experience of these matters to be exposed to. The graphic novel seems to be a good platform to do so, as one can get an even more personal impression of the subjects at hand.
When reading a traditional novel, the language and descriptions can be incredibly colourful if written well. Even so, what we as readers are able to picture in our minds will be limited to things we have already seen. With the graphic novel, the author/artist can further describe the emotional state of the subject matter using, not only visual clues that would be lost in writing, but even the energy of the brush strokes has it's own effects - if it's harsh, edgy and scribbly versus if it has a soft, flowing line and ornate elements. Writing can produce this effect very effectively as well, but I find that imagery offers an additional dimension to the storytelling.
As for Thompson's 'Blankets', I find that he utilizes this even more effectively than Eisner. Not only does his line quality change pretty drastically depending on the mood of the scene, but the text becomes part of the images, cutting across them or flowing through them, falling with the snow, spreading out into the branches or wrapping around the characters like a comforting blanket. Thompson's imagery also flows seamlessly between reality and a sort of dreamlike state based on how the main character perceive his experiences. This has an effect that is at the same time poetic and easy to relate to.
Both of these novels are beautiful accomplishments in their own rights, yet there are so many more approaches out there that I look forward to discover as I delve deeper into the subject of comic.