lukas, February 18, 2014 (view all comments by lukas)
Portland-based graphic novelist Craig Thompson's massive, sprawling and ambitious follow up to his excellent "Blankets" is a very different experience than his last effort. Set in the Middle East, it tells the story of the relationship and lives of two slaves. Drawing on the Arabian Nights, history, Islam and Arabic calligraphy, it's a beautifully drawn, immersive experience that can be a little exhausting (it runs nearly 700 pages). Some have criticized it for indulging in racial stereotypes, but I think that's a rather shallow criticism for people who are just looking to be self-righteous.
nowholdup, September 12, 2012 (view all comments by nowholdup)
"His attention to detail is astonishing. His devotion to latching onto and exploiting metaphor to the nth degree is simultaneously inspiring and exhausting. Unfortunately, his reliance on stereotype and cliché undermines his work as much as it did Eisner’s. Because for all of Eisner’s structural brilliance and ambition, his characters talked liked over-the-top stage characters. Racial, sexual, and ethnic stereotypes abounded in his stories. In Habibi, the reader is presented with dark-skinned African characters who talk in quasi-American slang. The way Thompson depicts cross-dressing eunuchs shows a fairly startling lack of understanding of transgendered issues today, something that comes into play because of the modern tone of their dialogue. His idea of comic relief is a dwarf who farts when he’s nervous. The average Arabic man is depicted as a rapacious, untrustworthy monster."
- rob clough the comics journal
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
Felicity, April 28, 2012 (view all comments by Felicity)
Beautifully drawn and designed, gorgeously interwoven with Quran stories and Arabic calligraphy. The story is brutal in places, but ultimately, I thought, redemptive and beautiful. Unlike many stories I read or hear, it interrogates the brutality to women it depicts and tries to balance female self-sacrifice and understand it. The themes are beautifully woven into the narrative and the art both -- and there is really no difference between art and story, here. I think it will reward rereading.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (1 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
In Habibi, Craig Thompson strides into a minefield and emerges with an abundance of love, presenting a graphic novel of such dazzling scope, it took nearly seven years to create.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Thompson's (Blankets) first graphic novel in seven years is a lushly epic love story that's both inspiring and heartbreaking, intertwined with parables from both Islam and Christianity. Sold into marriage as a young girl, Dodola endures life as the wife of a scribe until she's captured by slave traders and brought to Wanatolia to be auctioned off. But before she can be sold again, she escapes, taking with her an abandoned toddler named Habibi. The pair runaway to the desert, taking refuge in an abandoned boat, where they survive for nine years, with Dodola teaching Zam the ways of the world through stories from the Qur'an and the Bible. When Zam is 12, he secretly follows Dodola and realizes that she has been prostituting herself to passing caravans in order to acquire food. They are separated when Dodola is taken against her will to become part of a sultan's harem, leaving Zam alone in the desert. Six long years pass as the two struggle to find their way back to each other and, overcoming enormous odds, eventually end up far from the ancient desert landscape in a contemporary metropolis that underscores Thompson's subtle ability to blend the timeless and the current. In addition to richly detailed story panels, the gorgeous Arabic ornamental calligraphy makes each page an individual work of art. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
by Library Journal,
"This is not just an epic that sprawls from desert to harem to modern urban waste…it’s a look at how the first and third worlds are divided, Islam and Christianity united, and humanity too separated from the natural world. Ambitious."
by Publisher Weekly,
"A dense, swirling dervish of a tale…this will be the most talked about graphic novel of the fall."
by Booklist (Starred Review),
"The character depth, plot complexity, and storytelling in this lyrical, sexual, and scholarly epic would make any novelist proud...Thompson strings compositions that are often more tapestry than comics and that balance graphic design, illumination, calligraphy, and cartooning in steady alignment. It is unfair to expect two masterpieces in a row from anyone, but here Thompson sits securely in that rarefied air."
by Elle Magazine,
"Habibi lifts the bar of graphic storytelling to new heights, both by the intricate, dramatic density and breathtaking scholarship of Thompson’s panels and by the sheer scale and decorative beauty of his flowing, roiling, protean style. Thompson is the Charles Dickens of the genre, able to capture all the scary, heartbreaking, brave, uplifting details of his characters’ fates while orchestrating the big-picture machinations that connect them to the lives and times of his readers...Habibi is a masterpiece that surely is one of a kind."
"A graphic novel that is sure to attract attention...A mature—in all its meanings—glimpse into a world few Westerners are at home with, and Thompson is respectful throughout."
by Harper's Magazine,
"Exquisite...Habibi is a remarkable feat of research, care, and black ink, and a reminder that all 'People of the book,' despite the division of their individual traditions, share a mosaic of stories."
"Habibi has classic written all over it. It’s a modern literary triumph, a book so broad and magical in its scope, only a master could pull it off. This is no ordinary comic, it is a complete work of art. Beautiful, thought provoking, both timeless and of its time...An awe-inspiring read you can’t afford to miss."
"Easily the best graphic novel of the year, and probably the decade...Thompson’s line work here is beyond brilliant, combining myriad styles and capturing the rich historical legacy of the cultural and religious volumes that inspired it. This is a work that truly changes the game and sets a new standard for all the graphic novels that follow it."
by The Boston Phoenix,
"Craig Thompson's new graphic novel, Habibi, is a masterpiece. This isn't an opinion. This book is a gorgeous object; to make it, Thompson apparently covered himself in honey and rolled around in a thousand years of Arabic calligraphy and Islamic art, and the result is breathtaking."
by Boing Boing,
"Erotic, grotesque, and profoundly moving...I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like this, and I expect I’ll be thinking about it for a long, long time."
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.