Written and illustrated by Emil Ferris, My Favorite Thing is Monsters is a masterpiece of the graphic novel form. Set in 1960s Chicago, the story is told by Karen Reyes a young girl with a passion for pulp horror stories. In her spiral bound journals, she draws out her life in a mix of sketches, journal entries, and comic panels — presenting the interconnected stories of her mother, brother, and the people who live in the community around her. When her neighbor, Anka, dies under mysterious circumstances, Karen begins an investigation into her death that reveals how Anka survived and escaped Nazi Germany.
The art is some of the most stunning that I’ve seen, with it’s crosshatched style and selective use of color. Some pages are present full portraits, while others are broken up into comic book panels to move the story forward. The art provides beautiful depth to the characters, who are given greater depth and humanity through the detailed art presented. The colors selected —bright reds, blues, and the like — highlighting specific aspects of their
Also, recreated covers from pulp comics are spattered throughout, breaking up the story like chapter heads. They also continuing reiterate Karen’s passion for the horror genre, as she is the one recreating the covers to practice her drawing skills.
One of the particularly interesting aspects of Karen’s character is how she perceives humans and monsters. She draws herself in her journals as a half-werewolf — understandable considering both her love for monsters and how she is treated as a freak by other students at school.
In general, the people she has the most sympathy for are those who she presents with some kind of monstrousness. Her friends take up roles as ghosts, vampires, or other monsters to her werewolf. In a world full of human beings capable of performing monstrous acts, Karen relates more closely to the fantastical monsters in the stories she reads.
I was also thoroughly moved by Karen’s relationship with her mother and brother. There’s such love and compassion between them, even when things are not perfect. Deeze, her artist brother, shares with her his passion for art, introducing her to the classic paintings at the museum and how they speak to him, as well as sharing the work he creates on his own. It’s a lovely relationship.
This is an astounding, complex, gorgeous book — one I’ll be recommending to every human being even vaguely interested in graphic novels. It’s amazing work, and I’m eagerly awaiting the opportunity to read the second concluding volume, and I plan to follow Ferris’ career closely from here on out.