Michael Cavna of The Washington Post‘s Comic Riffs blog posted a wonderfully illustrated review of the new graphic novel Habibi by Craig Thompson. I really wish this would happen more often.
I’ve said this before in the past. I love when people in comics use the language of comics to talk about the world of comics. What better way to express oneself. And Cavna presents fantastic evidence to support my case. As he puts it, “it seemed only right to respond with pictures to one of the year’s best comic projects”.
Cavna runs an excellent blog, so it’s easy to forget he’s also an amazing artist. His syndicated comic strip Warped ran in major newspapers across the country, including our own Los Angeles Times, from 1996 to 2003. It’s clear from this that he needs to do more illustrated content for Comic Riffs.
In his review, Cavna weaves together the various threads that led to Habibi. From Craig Thompson’s health problems with his hands following the release of the acclaimed break-out graphic novel Blankets, to his mid-west fundamentalist background. From Thompson’s personal response to 9/11 and religious anxieties that followed, which led to an interest in studying the Qur’an. Arabic writing in turn fed into Thompson’s interest in calligraphy, which informed much of the design of Habibi. Drawing from Arabian Nights, Habibi is, as Cavna puts it, “a story of wounded love between a eunuch and a prostitute”. But more than that, it is about Thompson learning to embrace and embody being a man, about sexual trauma, and ultimately about healing. Cavna ends his review intertwining visual motifs of Blankets and Habibi, and calls the latter “a visual masterwork”.