Thompson does not defy the grid, even when his panels are not framed, and this gives the publication its beauty. Also, by varying the size of panels and how they are framed, he emphasizes different levels intimacy, the story comes across as less ridged than Watchmen for instance.
The pacing also appears to have been inspired by Seth's It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken, given the emphasis on subject, moment and aspect transitions, which slow the narrative down and give the reader space to relax and reflect. Combined with the illustrative style we experience life through Craig's eyes, which perceive life as both beautiful and delicate, despite its pains and horrors.
The juxtaposition of childhood memories with those of youth and adulthood are also part of what makes this work so dynamic. This is nothing new, and it harks back to Soviet montage in which filmmakers would pull the audience out of a scene through the juxtaposition of shots, asking the audience to make meaning from the contrast. Thompson understands this principle, and the reader often finds themselves comparing different moments in order to get a good sense of character.
Is it a good book? Sure, Thompson has come to terms with the strengths of his medium and told an insightful story, but we do not have enough graphic novels in the world to start a canon with it. For graphic novels to develop appreciation and respect from society, we need to stop defending them, and get on with analyzing them ourselves. Using language that is suited to the medium, as I have attempted in this review.