swiping Cohen

We’re past due for a blog update, so I thought I’d mention the release of the Traditional Chinese edition of BLANKETS.
My Taiwanese publisher Reading Times concocted a fancy animated “trailer” at their site.
Here’s a peek of their cover designs, splitting the book into two volumes.


And here’s my preface.


It reads: “The closest that the rural Wisconsin town I grew up in got to China was the ginseng crops we exported — the principal agriculture of the region. During the years toiling in the fields, digging up the strangely humanoid ginseng roots, I dreamt of a day I could live as an artist rather than a farmhand. While drawing BLANKETS between 2000 and 2003, my main fear was that readers wouldn’t relate to this insular story of an isolated upbringing in the middle of America. Instead, the book has extended my boundaries — brought this awkward outcast a community across the world. Today it boggles my mind to see this work being translated into Chinese. I’m reminded of Leonard Cohen’s forward to the Chinese edition of BEAUTIFUL LOSERS. He acknowledges the great Chinese poets and zen teachers. To that, I add that China was the womb from which printmaking was born. Cohen says, ‘Dear Reader, please forgive me if I have wasted your time.’ With humility and honor, I echo that sentiment to you.”

46 thoughts on “swiping Cohen

  1. “Blankets” is perhaps one of my favorite literary works, and by far my most favorite graphic novel. I think it’s amazing when writing surpasses societal bounds and speaks to people on a humanistic level. This is the only black and white graphic novel where I saw vibrant color in the frames and gutters.

  2. That is wonderful! Now I am very curious as to how the Chinese characters would look with your art. Just wondering, did you have to redo certain panels to accommodate the Chinese text?

  3. Sweet!

    What references am I missing in the bottom panel? Cohen and… traditionally dressed Chinese peasants… beside a frozen lake? Are those the poets and zen teachers?

  4. I’m so glad that a wider audience can now discover the book I love. How languages has Blankets been translated into?

    I also wanted to add that it was great to meet you at Wordstock. I was glad to make the drive up from Eugene.

  5. Love these Chinese covers and preface! I just discovered your blog and read through the entire thing. I’m a huge fan of Blankets–it’s become a comfort re-read for me. I also love Carnet de Voyage and just re-read it recently–which made me wonder if you’d published your new book yet, which soon had me searching around the ‘net, which led me here! 🙂 Anyway, just wanted to say hi and thanks for your wonderful art, and I look forward very much to your next book (and until then, blog entry.)

  6. I just read about your compilation Kissypoo Garden also coming out in 2009.

    I don’t remember hearing about it before! Or maybe I just forgot. Haha. Either way, sounds interesting.

  7. Am I the first Chinese reader here??
    I just read your interview in today’s paper in Taiwan, and was attracted by your “Blankets” right away. So I immediately bought one on the internet. And can’t wait to read it!!

  8. Am I the only one that wonders where in rural Wisconsin you are from?
    Maybe because I am also from rural WI….I love blankets and i feel like it kind of explains a part of me 🙂

  9. SO COOL!
    I think it is amazing how this book travels and spreads, now its in china. Even just around my school, i bought the book and now half my friends have read and loved it. a fantastic amazing achievement!

  10. so beautiful…i only hope habibi is that can reach across through the walls we have set up across the globe and really establish some kind of strong human connection and throw out all the senselessness thats plagued this world

  11. what a sweet and grand thing to say as well in the preface Craig…i feel like things like that have more power than some people would like to admit

  12. Hello ,

    First of all : congratulations !
    If I’m right (seeing the two front pages): they split up the book in two separate stories? One about your youth and one about the teenage life? Or have they just choosen to make two volumes without changing anything at the way you made your history.
    I loved the mix from the different periods in your life, thats why I wonder.
    Mira, a reader from Belgium (and seen on the map not that important as China… 😉 )

  13. Hi Craig,
    I feel kinda weird leaving this here on your blog, but whatever…
    I’m looking for someone who might be able to help me with a project that I’m working on for school (Oberlin College) this winter, and I was wondering if you’d be interested. Back in May I was fortunate enough to have Menomena play for a charity concert that I organized, and Danny Seim said that this would be the best place to get in contact with you. Now I’m looking to spend my winter term drawing and writing comics. Please let me know if you’d be interested, and would like some more details. Thanks, Dash Robb

  14. Congrats on the ever-expanding literary juggernaut known as Blankets.

    I’ve recommended this masterpiece to countless friends, all of whom have had glowing reviews afterwards.

    I will also recommend this to my father-in-law, who travels to China multiple times a year. Hopefully he will pass this recommendation onto his Chinese colleagues.

  15. Craig! i’m so sorry i dropped off the map, i moved house and have been sans internet for absolutely forever.
    thanks so much for the post, it was really inspiring.
    So, the tattoos fully planned out, should be going on somewhen between january/february time, whenever my finances will allow.

    It’s the right page of this:
    (not my blog, but its nice to steal bandwith.) and she’ll be wrapped around some lyrics.

    Hope everythings cool my friend and habibi is keeping you busy!
    Happy holidays!

  16. hey craig,
    i picked up ur sketchbook from europe back in ’04
    its great, i love reading it on my way to work. it gets me inspired to do it myself
    hope to see anyone like it

  17. Hey Craig,

    I saw in an earlier post a photograph of your wooden drawing table. i thought it was so beautiful I had to ask where did you find it and about how much did it cost you?

    Thank you so much!

  18. Cool, China! I’ll look for it the next time I’m back in the homeland.

    Odd thought – Blankets reminds me of Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller…

  19. I just bought Blankets today and found it a fantastic work, deeply moving, probably the very best graphic novel i’ve read so far. I cant count the number of friend who will get it as a Christmas present from me : )

  20. Hi Craig,

    Did “Blankets” were also published in China? I thought they’re only published in Taiwan since they’re all translated in traditional Chinese, and the people in China only read simplified Chinese.
    I finished reading the 2 volumes in vary short time and was deeply touched. 🙂

  21. I bought Blankets about 2 years ago, completely “blind” – no idea what it was about, and my bookstore here in Singapore didn’t have a sample open (I was too lazy to line up at the counter to get it open and browse while the salesperson stared at me reading.)

    Thank you for the book. Your Christian experiences echo mine – although my experiences improved over the years that I’ve been in the church.

    Keep drawing, and I’ll keep reading.

  22. I can’t imagine how tired you are of hearing this,
    but I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t let you know that I know that
    that is exactly what it feels like to sleep with someone for the first time.
    You got it.

  23. I’m a Taiwaness(Chiness) and I love this “Comic” very much.

    It’s hard to describe my feelings about your story……I cant use English just like an American, not to mention the difficulty of
    conmunicate between tow men .

    I believe in God, and I underwent the guilty of sex(maybe a unfaithful love to God).

    When I embraced my girl, the world became so lightly to me, and there was no more burden…..
    I think that was the way God love me, so I think she is my real angel.

    Do you still keep the blanket now ?

    (Sorry for my poor English ^^)

  24. wow! this version of blankets looks entirely different than the american version….i like the looks of the artwork in this version…also i was wondrering if you have talked or seen raina since you have published blankets??

  25. hello mister thompson,
    im your reader from taiwan, im deeply touched by BLANKETS. i have to say it is the best graphic novel that i have ever read. and of crouse, im very looking forward for your coming up new book– HABIBI 😀 i wish you all the best during your new creat.
    best wish

  26. Hello,

    I think that my comment here is a bit out of place – I’d rather hoped to email you, but I haven’t found an email address to use, so I hope you get notifications of comments posted to your blog.

    I want to make a request –

    When I read Blankets, a thing that struck me (and later, my brother) most profoundly was just how familiar the story was — familiar in the way that in your drawings of your story, I saw much of my own childhood. I saw the farmland around my house, the last on school bus stops, the burning barrels out behind the house, the portrait of Jesus from our church, the crust of snow and the footprints that grew heavier with age…

    I know you were telling your story, but in it, my brother and I saw much of ours as well.

    And, when I read other books, Goodbye Chunky Rice and Carnet du Voyage, I continued to recognize some of my own stories drawn within yours.

    I grew up not far from Milwaukee. Now I’ve lived in Portland almost 6 years (not far from Milwaukie). In the meantime, among other places, I’ve been to Morocco and Egypt, for which I began an infatuation with Arabic writing that I hope to resume again someday. Soon I will leave, hopefully to go to Taiwan and learn Chinese (and Chinese calligraphy, too).

    My request is that I was wondering if I could invite you to lunch sometime soonish, while I’m still in Portland?
    You came from the kind of places I came from, so I am curious to ask you more about where you’ve been going and how you are getting there. I am wondering how you chose your trajectory after high school, how you decided to go to Portland, when you started reading Rumi, what other poets and philosophers have been significant to you and how you found them, how Arabic calligraphy and art became more important to you, … what you’ve been learning of life and how you’re coming to learn it.

    I maybe should have asked you after your Stumptown Comics Fest talk, but this felt out of place amid the other things people wanted to talk with you about. I guess this isn’t much less out of place as a ‘comment’.

    Anyhow, I know you’re very busy and perhaps some of the things I’d want to hear about are too far in your own past to still be agreeable topics for you. So, if this doesn’t sound good to you, but you don’t want to seem like you’re ignoring this message, you can just wait until after June to respond, since I’ll be gone then – first back to Wisconsin, and then to Taiwan.

    Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll decide to write back.

    If I find your content information on this blog somewhere after posting this, I will feel rather silly.

  27. im Taiwanise, just graduated from university and moved back home, when i was cleaming up my room, i found an old newspaper cut in 2007.11.15. i think it was an e-mail interview done by MAOPOPO, it’s about your work BLANKETS… i just wanna let you know that by the thid time i read this article, i know i have to get your original text by any means, it’s something i didn’t feel 3 years ago, and now im visiting your blog, im so excited!!! can’t wait to read your work XOXO

  28. Blankets is without doubt one of my favorite books of all time, it gives me chills when i look at the artwork. The artwork here for the Chinese Edition of Blankets, particularly the second, is something that i would pay a hell of a lot of money to have on my wall, what a beautiful piece of graphic art. Simply stunning.

    The sneeky peeks of Habibi look so fluid and have a sensuality i cant wait to soak up.


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