During his Blankets promotion tour through Europe and Morocco, Craig Thompson created a travel journal. Carnet De Voyage was created using those pages. Consisting of a few paragraphs and pages and pages of gorgeous illustrations, Thompson takes the reader through an emotional and physical journey around the world.
Thompson created this graphic journal, which he calls a self-indulgent side project, after a break up with a serious girlfriend and while dealing with some nearly crippling arthritis in his hands. While at times Thompson comes across as whiny, he also manages to make fun of himself during his weakest emotional moments. He also impressively captures what it is like to be a stranger in a strange land, particularly the swings from homesickness to awe at his surroundings. Each set of pages captures the beauty and the chaos of traveling abroad. I could have done without the multiple depictions of Thompson’s stomach issues, though.
The pages are done using Thompson’s customized brush pen creating expanses with thick, simple lines and gorgeous use of shading. He makes it clear through his illustrations exactly where he is traveling, making Paris and Marrakesh easily recognizable. The illustrations of the Alps are particularly stunning. The handwriting used for the text is clear and works well with the style of each page, but is written at a slant. It was occasionally difficult to move from one line of text to the next because of this.
Thompson’s journey is melancholy and fascinating. He is searching for truth, happiness, and purpose and he is brutally honest about himself and his feelings. But, like I said, it can get a little whiny and, as Thompson says, self-indulgent. It also ends very abruptly, due to his publisher’s specifications. He tries to wrap up in about four pages, but comes to no conclusions and seems hurried and confused in the last pages. This is a gorgeous, haunting memoir, but the rushed ending left me a little unsatisfied.
Carnet De Voyage
by Craig Thompson
Top Shelf, 2009
Publisher Age Rating: Adult