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Review: Habibi

October 11, 2011

Author: Craig Thompson
Title: Habibi
Published: 2011
Pages: 672

Just a short review here:

Habibi is the latest comic by Craig Thompson, author of the wonderful Blankets, produced over a period of ten years it follows Dodola and Zam. It’s a magical realist, fairy-tale love story with a major emphasis on the tradition of oral storytelling. From a purely aesthetic p.o.v. I was distinctly impressed, Thompson’s artwork really shines and his mastery of the brush is fantastic. His drawings have a wonderful fluidity and elegance; great use of dry brush technique. His layouts are good, good use of borders and lack of; at times his work reminds me of Will Eisner, although not as good (not many people are). The real star of the show, however, is the design of the book itself; obviously Thompson has studied Arabic calligraphy because the book is filled with beautifully rendered pages of elaborate script. Plus, the actual physical book is stunning; a hefty hardcover acting like a true objet d’art.

From a storytelling perspective, Habibi falls short and, tbh, the hyperbolic reviews don’t help. My main problem is that it suffers with showingoffitis; clearly Thompson has done a bit of research and decided to put everything he learnt into the book. It deprives the story of pacing and adds unnecessary storylines to the plot. I thought the actual plot of the two characters interesting but the real emotional core of their story often got lost through the constant flashbacks and detours through Islamic history lessons. If I was being really cynical, I would think that it’s another case of exoticising a culture. I won’t because there is real passion behind the story but I do have this to say, the whole Arabian Nights trope is getting old.

Great artwork, so-so story.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 12, 2011 5:20 pm

    I’ve been waiting to read Blankets for a long time. I really should try to get around to it soon.

  2. October 16, 2011 8:48 pm

    Ugh! Too bad that the story was only so-so for you. There seems to be a lot of books being published right now that are great on everything BUT story. I have this on hold at the library so I can’t wait to see everything you wrote about in your review.

  3. October 17, 2011 6:34 pm

    Mrs. Q & Vasilly:

    It’s a beautiful looking book so I’m glad I bought it but it’s not as good as Blankets.

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