Graphic novel Habibi intertwines holy books with comic books

Graphic artist Craig Thompson has completed a task of biblical… or more accurately, Koranic proportions.


Thompson spent seven years researching, writing and drawing his latest book “Habibi,” a love story that takes place in a Middle Eastern desert. MPR’s Euan Kerr met up with Thompson recently, who explained that his childhood in a strictly religious family in Wisconsin has had a lasting influence on his work.

“The book is like a mash-up of the sacred medium of the holy books, like the Koran and the Bible, mixed up with the vulgar story of pulp medium of comic books, which would have been my two biggest influences growing up, the Bible and comic-books,” Thompson said.

“And then there is a nod to “1,001 Nights” and this sort of theme of Sheherezade telling stories for survival, and one story folding in on an other, so that you lose track of where you began.”

Thompson also makes use of the magic squares designed by Arab mystics, who found meaning in the shapes, designs and even narratives in numeric patterns.

“It’s basically mystical sudoku,” he says. “Sudoku has its own narrative, it’s a mathematical narrative, and I exploited that for the sake of the book.”

Habibi is a complex interweaving of the sacred and the profane, touching on themes of power and politics, human trafficking, environmental exploitation and the joys and sadnesses of love. Critics have raved about its beauty.

You can hear more about the 672-page graphic novel by clicking on link below:

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