Book Review: ‘Habibi’ by Craig Thompson

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I finally finished Craig Thompson’s gorgeous new book, Habibi. It took me several weeks to finish partly because it’s over 600 pages and because the art and patterns were so beautifully rendered that I took several minutes on each page just staring at the drawings. No wonder it took him 10 years to finish!

After requesting this book from the library, I was lucky enough to have two amazing friends (one of whom is an artist you might enjoy) get a copy signed for me for my birthday in September.

 

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I was very excited to read Habibi. I own Craig Thompson’s first two books, Good-bye Chunky Rice  and Blankets. I was actually a much bigger fan of Chunky Rice. I loved the quirky, emotional stories. Blankets was great, and certainly full of emotion, but I didn’t think it lived up to all the hype other than the fact that it was a massive book (though smaller than Habibi).

At APE in early October I was lucky enough to see Craig Thompson speak about all 4 of his books (I haven’t read Carnet de Voyage). I could really relate to his Midwestern upbringing and the talk was just fascinating. I’m so glad I heard him speak before having a chance to read Habibi.  It allowed me to appreciate the artwork in the book so much more.

The story of Dodola and Habibi/Zam is unique but at the same time it feels like an ancient tale we all know, at least in the beginning. The time period is a bit ambiguous and the story takes a lot of unexpected turns, especially one involving eunuchs that I was totally unprepared for.

It’s an intensely emotional and spiritual tale that is enhanced by the flow of the Arabic characters and their echo in the artwork. One thing that Craig Thompson mentioned in his discussion that really stuck with me was his insistence on making sure that almost all of the marks in the book were put down in ink by his brush (minus a few large swaths of black). He found ancient Muslim and Arabic patterns, scanned them, occasionally altered them slightly, and then traced them all with his brush. They are breathtaking and intricate and knowing that he put those marks on the page at some point makes them all the more precious.

Habibi is a beautiful tale and a beautiful book that I highly recommend. You can buy it and Thompson’s other books here and he has a wonderful process gallery here.

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APE 2011 Recap!

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I’m back from a wonderful weekend at APE in San Francisco and totally exhausted! The trip was a whirlwind but a lot of fun and it was great to meet 3 of my fellow Illopond contributors. Above is (left to right) Charlotte Cheng, Denver Wagner, and Samuel Kirkman. We had loads of books and prints for sale, including our latest anthology, Boo!, which is now available for sale at Indy Planet!

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Charlotte is very excited about our table.

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Our table was far too cluttered the first day, as you can see here. We rearranged for Day 2.

There was so much amazing work to see and a pretty decent crowd. This was my first experience tabling at a con and it was  solid one. I was fortunate enough to see Daniel Clowes and Adriane Tomine speak together and answer questions and Craig Thompson also spoke about his new book, Habibi, and his previous 3 books.

Daniel Clowes was surprisingly funny and he resembles many of the characters he creates. He’d make a great straight man in a comedy duo. Craig Thompson was funny too and I could really relate to his Midwestern upbringing.

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I did my best not to spend too much money so walking through some of the aisles was a serious challenge.

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Chris Eliopoulos' "Okie Dokie Donuts" was calling my name at the Top Shelf table.

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The one purchase I did allow myself was the second volume of The Anthology Project. It is a really gorgeous book and I can’t wait to read it. The very friendly Jake Wyatt, one of the contributors, drew a lovely bird in the front of my book.

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This piece by Sam Bosma is what caught my eye in the first place.

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My custom drawing from Jake Wyatt

 

Hooray for my first con experience! And thanks to Sam, Denver, and Charlotte for their hard work and for being such fun people.

I do have some books and prints leftover (print selection is below). I have copies of the kid’s anthology, Boo!, and Fly Danny, Fly. I plan to set up a shop for all of these things very soon, but if you are interested in purchasing any of these (with my signature if you like!) then please get in touch. I’m offering a serious blue light special on multiple prints, so don’t be shy!

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The larger prints are 8x10 and the smaller prints are 5x7

Bordo Bello Skate Deck Work in Progress

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I’m almost finished creating an illustrated skate deck for Denver’s Bordo Bello by AIGA Colorado. The last time I illustrated a skate deck I used a dip pen and ink. If only I had known then that Sharpies were the perfect tool! I love the way this deck is coming out and I have high hopes that it will do well at auction. Unfortunately I’ll be on my way to APE, so I’ll miss the big party but if you’re in Denver on September 30th you’ve got to check it out!

The illustration is based on Chilean flag trees. In the southern part of Chile it is so consistently windy that the trees are forced to grow almost horizontally if they want to survive. It’s an amazing phenomenon! I’m also working on an illustrated map of Chile that I will be able to share in a few months.

Are custom skate decks something you would be interested in purchasing? I’m having a blast with this and would love to create one for you too!

 

 

“DETENTION” is almost here!

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At long last, my new mini-comic, “Detention,” is finished! Today I’m sending it off to be included in a new Illopond Anthology called “Boo!” It will be available as part of the anthology and soon you will be able to purchase a digital copy at The Illustrated Section or as a print copy on it’s own either through Ka-Blam or at the Alternative Press Expo where I’ll be tabling with other members of Illopond. Hope to see you there!