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Synthesis - Columns

From 2008 to 2015 I wrote a weekly column for Synthesis Weekly under the name Zooey Mae. What started as an outlet to review graphic novels and comic books evolved over the years to cover everything from pop culture to whatever menial event was happening in my life. Looking back, I think I spent much too much time regaling Chico with tales of my allergies. 

My Messenger in Disguise, Makes Up For Such Short Goodbyes

Originally published in Synthesis Weekly: September 2009

Moving is hard. Not the type of moving which refers to producing movement, although sometimes that can be difficult too. I'm referring to the type of moving where one decides for one reason or another to move their belongings and selves to a new location to reside. Moving out of a house you shared with an ex? Even more difficult. It's emotionally and physically draining, and leaves you completely devoid of any type of expendable energy. Actually, it could be said that after moving, (your home), moving, (physical motion), is diffcult.

I'm currently sitting on my hardwood floors in my nearly empty house, surrounded by boxes and misplaced items, writing this weeks column and trying not to make it too terribly “Are You There God, It's Me Margaret”, sounding preachy and irrelevant. The dust bunnies have come out to play and my sinuses are screaming their outrage by punctuating each sentence or two with a sneeze. I'm sitting in a semi-literal fort of graphic novels, as my entire collection is boxed up and resting beside me. The graphic novel which tops the stack is surprisingly relevant for my current conditions, and as this is the case, let's make it the focus of this week's ramblings.

Blankets, by Craig Thompson is an autobiographical account of growing up in a staunch Christian household, and his first love, Raina. Like WatchmenBlankets, has achieved a great number of awards and critcal acclaim, including being listed as one of the top ten best graphic novels by Time Magazine, an Eisner award for best graphic album and best writer/artist, Ignatz award for outstanding artist and outstanding graphic novel, and a Harvey award for best artist, best graphic album of original work, and best cartoonist. The public reception hasn't been all good though, as in 2006 there was an attempt to remove Blankets from a city library in Missouri. However, it's difficult not to chalk that up to narrow minded Bible thumpers as Blankets is an extremely honest inside look at the startling level of control the Christian church can exude over the minds of the young.

The artwork, (also by Thompson) is calming in a way, feeling almost as though someone discovered how to translate the music of Grizzly Bear or Iron and Wine into visual art. The entire graphic novel is in black and white, and is a pretty hefty sized book, but worth the read nonetheless. Thompson's depictions of how it feels to sleep next to someone for the first time, or the primary awakening of the desire for physical love is uncanny. Don't balk at the lengthy size of this graphic novel, but be prepared to do some Blankets induced reflection on your own first love. 

Arielle Mullen