Blankets dropped like a bomb upon 2003’s MoCCA Art Festival in New York City — the sort of smash debut you might use to illustrate the “book of the show” entry in a comics-convention dictionary. And for good reason: Clocking in at just over 580 pages, none of which had ever been serialized anywhere, it was the largest original graphic novel North American comics had ever seen. But while the novelty of its size might have made the first impression, what was found in its pages made the lasting one. An unabashedly emotional memoir, Blankets told Thompson’s own story of first love and fundamentalism, romance and religion, as both discovered and lost by him while a teenager in the snowy northern Midwest. Drawn in a sweeping, inviting style, its sheer loveliness attracted readers from beyond comics’ traditional audience, while the universality of its subject matter and the specificity of Thompson’s experience of it kept them turning the pages. More than any other book this decade (excepting, perhaps, Jimmy Corrigan), it cemented the thick “graphic novel” format as the publishing method of choice for artistically ambitious literary comics, proving that forgoing the more immediate critical and financial rewards of serialization could lead to unprecedented success. Fun Home, Persepolis, Stitches — more so even than Maus, Blankets paved the way for the crossover success of the mainstream-friendly comics memoir.