It is hard to believe that Craig Thompson has only produced three graphic novels before this year. Perhaps it is hard to believe because I have reread his work so much that it seems like Thompson is constantly putting out work and with each read his stories inspire me and I find something new and exciting each time. In fact, these days you will never see a top 10 greatest graphic novels list without seeing Blankets somewhere near the top. I believe that Habibi will start popping up in those lists from now on as well. Thompson’s latest graphic novel is a 600 page powerful and moving tale about two orphaned refugees, Dodola and Zam. Both escape slavery while they are very young and struggle to survive somewhere in the modern day middle east. While their relationship grows as a mother/son relationship in the beginning, the intense and strong bond they have for one another continues to grow even after they are separated. Dodola is enslaved again into a harem while Zam finds what life is like as a eunuch. They both continue to learn the harsh realties of life and their ever-changing world around them, as they never give up hope they will find each other again. Thompson has created such a beautiful and epic story that one cannot help but be moved. Horrific things happen in the book but the meaning and motivations of the two protagonists always shines through. Never have I read a graphic novel and had to put it down every chapter just to ponder it for the rest of the day before starting the book again. Habibi is a book that took Thompson over six years to finish and every page you can see why. His artwork here is stunning. He showcases just what this medium can accomplish by creating breathtaking pages of Arabic calligraphy that not only breaks new ground, but also does it in such an organic way. Thompson also uses passages from the Bible and the Koran in full page spreads that also breath life and meaning to his story. It is also interesting to not how linked the Bible and Koran really are in their roots. He also has fully detailed backgrounds creating magical cityscapes and exquisite architecture that constantly changes as the story progresses. Thompson has matured so much as a story teller and we are all the better for it. Habibi is nothing short of a masterpiece that should not just be read, but should be studied, pondered, and then reread again. This is not only the best graphic novel this year, but also easily the best graphic novel of the last ten years.
- Would you recommend this to a friend? Yes