Habibi by Craig Thomas., 657 pages , is the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bought together by the need to survive in a cruel and savage world. Love grows between them and remains constant despite separation and the abuse and horrors each experience. The imagined Arabic world created by Thomas is an often unpleasant and dangerous one, having some of the worst excesses of both the medieval and contemporary. In a significant portion of the book the reader shares with Dodola as she learns to read and write Arabic calligraphy and retells the Muslim and Christian stories she learns from it. It is a long, complex and ambitious work about more than its central narrative. Craig Thompson has been around for a while winning prizes and acclaim but, shame to say, new to me whose information about comics comes largely from a couple of internet sources that are for the most part interested only in DC, Marvel and similar. The copy of Habibi I read came from the local library who are also largely superhero centred but occasionally have alternative writers and artists work. It is these publications I now find more interesting. They offer a wider range of subject matter, originality, motivation, creativity and offer new ways to make comics. This book does all that.

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