Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Just got back from the reading for the reissue of Craig Thompson's beautiful and bittersweet graphic novel, Good-bye, Chunky Rice on Pantheon Books. Ah, Craig Thompson, Craig Thompson, Craig Thompson! This man is so talented -- a sincere and moving writer, a fantastic artist, and a real gem of a person.

I first met Craig at the Alternative Press Expo in 2003. He was just this one guy, sitting a big old uncrowded table by himself with his stack of the third printing of Good-bye, Chunky Rice through Top Shelf Comics. My husband and I had never heard of his work before, and not to be cheesy, but when we picked it up we knew it was something really magical. We bought it right then and there, and Craig was so happy to talk about the book and he seemed really genuinely stoked to have another person discover his graphic novel. Good-bye, Chunky Rice is still one of my favorite all-time reads, and an excellent, heartfelt story about love, and the pain and joy of this adventure called life.

Craig then released a memoir of sorts, Blankets, which is an almost 600 page graphic novel that loosely chronicles his childhood and teenage years living in a very religious household in a small farming community, and is also a very personal and frank story about first love. Beautiful!

The hubby and I really got a good chance to talk with Craig this time around, as the reading was held at the hubby's work, Diesel Books. His honesty and warmth really shone through as he talked about his lean times while he worked on Blankets. I had no idea that when we first met him, he was scrounging for discarded food at Taco Bell and selling his comp copies of Good-bye, Chunky Rice to the used bookstore so that he could eat. Now he's in a pretty good spot, and it is just so refreshing to meet someone who is really doing such critically acclaimed work and is still so sweet and down to earth (and who gives excellent hugs!).

So, his success is so much more magnificent to behold, and I really have to get behind him and his lovely stories. If you haven't read these graphic novels, I highly recommend getting out there and at least picking up the reissue of Good-bye, Chunky Rice. And if you don't believe me about the beauty of this book, ask the brilliant author of the graphic novels, V For Vendetta and Watchmen, Alan Moore:

"Both funny and genuinely touching in turn, Craig Thompson's Good-bye, Chunky Rice is an affecting meditation upon friendship, loneliness, and loss, all delivered with a real feel for the musicality of the comic strip form. This work sings and dances, and you could do a lot worse than to sing and dance along with it. Highly recommended."

(read this and the next 5 pages of the story here.


Blogger bunny said...

There's something about that green character that reminds me of Harold and the Purple Crayon. The mouse, on the other hand, reminds me of Radiohead drawings. I don't know why. I like the style. Will have to check it out!

I can't remember the name of the made-up personality (possibly Thom Yorke's alter ego?) that draws those Radiohead characters. About 6 years ago I took one of those online test thingies where it would tell you what member of Radiohead you were most like. I was matched with that personality.

Damn, I'm a bad fan. I love their last three albums but don't really know much about the band at all.

May 26, 2006 at 6:20:00 AM PDT  
Blogger CJKnaak said...

Radiohead is in my spinal fluid, esp. kid A
I love the reports- esp. on the art stuff, Ammie.. thanks for sharing your experiences. I like Craig's stuff.. I need to read through it extensively, however. Bastarrd is a year younger than me. Shee- it. Well when I do get something out there.. it will be coming from the trenches, in any case. The bullets are snapping and popping over my head as we speak.
I better get under cover now..


May 28, 2006 at 6:24:00 PM PDT  

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