Craig Thompson gears up for his first serialized comic

‘Ginseng Roots’ will explore Thompson’s childhood ‘weeding and harvesting ginseng’ in order to buy comic books.

Craig Thompson is best known for his long-form graphic novels, including Blankets, Habibi and other titles that regularly appear on year-end “best of” lists. But now the creator is turning his attention to “the form of the medium that imprinted itself on me and my little brother, Phil, as children.”

Coming next spring from Uncivilized Books is Ginseng Roots, a bi-monthly comic book about the creator and his brother growing up in Wisconsin.

“For a decade of our childhood, Phil and I toiled in Wisconsin farms,” Thompson wrote on his blog. “Weeding and harvesting GINSENG—an exotic medicinal herb that fetched huge profits in China—funded our youthful obsession with comic books. Comics in turn, allowed us to escape our rural, working class trappings.”

In an interview with Alex Dueben for The Comics Journal earlier this year, Thompson spoke about why he wanted to shift away from graphic novels for this project:

You mentioned those two books you’re at some stage with, but what are you working on now?

I am still secretive about it, but I’ll probably be ready to announce it this fall. I haven’t signed a contract yet, but the plan is to serialize it as a comic book. For the first time in my career. When I did Blankets I was really pushing against comic book store culture and collector mentality and serial comics. I was sick of the format of comic books. Now I’m sick of graphic novels and the pretension around them and the prohibitive cost and space they consume. We live in this era over-saturated with media and images and there’s something really pure about the 24-32 page comic book to me now. As I was struggling with how to structure this new book, I realized that I want to do it as a comic book. It’s still going to be a graphic novel but I want to use the constraint as the structure. I’m excited about comics as a medium again.

Thompson describes the new series as “part memoir, part travelogue, part essay—all comic book—Ginseng Roots explores class divide, agriculture, holistic healing, the 300 year long trade relationship between China and North America, childhood labor, and the bond between two brothers.” So it ought to be one to keep your eye out for.

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