Ink and Pixels for Tablet’s 82nd ish is based on a long, long, loooong telephone conversation I had with the gifted creator of Blankets and Goodbye, Chunky Rice.

It seems pretty clear to me that the publication of Blankets could be the most important thing that happened in American independent comics this year, because it presents a potential direction for the genre that could appeal to a very wide range of firmly book buying readers. It’s essentially the Great American First Novel, delivered as a graphic novel, and Thompson’s chops are up to the task. Both in his assured, inventive, and extraordinarily fluent use of the medium and in his plotting and story construction he delivers something that’s really never quite been seen in English.

Some of Beto Hernandez’ work is similar in scope; but because the stories that Hernandez writes about cover the warp and woof of a village’s life over several generations, it’s necessarily less focused if not less rich. Thompson’s book focuses primarily on a brief, first-love relationship – and his exploration of that event employs about 600 pages of drawings.

As a reader who has grown into the practice of literary reading – of examining stories, books, and the entire body of work of an author for themes that repeat and echo – I found the book genuinely unlike any other work in the medium I had ever read, and am confident it will appeal to others who indulge in a similar use of their time.

I will run the entire transcript of my conversation with Thompson here before the end of the year.