BOOK: "Carnet de Voyage," by Craig Thompson (Top Shelf Productions, $14.95)
TARGET AUDIENCE: Fans of graphic novels who didn't know you also could do travelogues that way. And vice versa.
QUICK TAKE: Thompson's record of his trip this year through Europe and Morocco is illustrated not with photos ("they steal an image") but with his own drawings. They can be rich in detail, as when he sketches Parisian cityscapes or Moroccan souks, or penetrating and revealing, as in his character studies. There's also a good bit of fun in his mix, particularly when his little bloblike alter ego teases him out of his nearly perpetual self-pity.
Thompson isn't bad with words, either. Though sometimes ungrammatical or misspelled, his hand-lettered text could stand on its own. Hassled, lonely and sick in Morocco, for example, he is nonetheless sad when it's time to go: "So easy to love a place on the day you're leaving." It's about missed opportunities and an unsatisfied desire to learn more, and a sense of traveler's remorse we all can appreciate.
RANT: We see more than we need to about Thompson's bouts of "grumpy tummy."
RAVE: Though the author himself dismisses this work as a "self-indulgent side-project," one hopes he will soon take his pens and sketchbook back on the road.
-- Jerry V. Haines