Emil Ferrisâ€™s dÃ©but graphic novel, â€œMy Favorite Thing Is Monsters,â€ follows a ten-year-old girl named Karen Reyes in Chicago in the nineteen-sixties, a time of tumultuous social change.Â The two-volume book, theÂ first installment of which will be released next week, takes the form of Karenâ€™s diary, in which she chronicles her attempts to solve the mysterious death of her neighbor, a Holocaust survivor named Anka Silverberg. As she delves deeper into Ankaâ€™s tragic childhood in Berlin, Karen grapples with her own growing sense of otherness, manifested inÂ her wish to become a monster.
â€œMy Favorite Thing Is Monstersâ€ is not only Ferrisâ€™s first graphic novel but also herÂ first published work. She is a single mother and has supported herself for decades as a freelance artist, often in animation. Yet her mastery of comics, herÂ pyrotechnic drawings, and her nested narratives are already placing her among the greatest practitioners of the form.
On the eve of the publication of a work about theÂ past, Ferris is surprised by its relevance to the present: â€œWhenÂ I started on thisâ€”years and years agoâ€”we were living in a different time,â€ she said. â€œI was wondering, Why am I doing this? Iâ€™m talking about the rise of fascism. Iâ€™m talking about racial inequality. Iâ€™m talking about the lack of representation for children who are lesbian and gay and trans.â€ She would ask herself, back then, â€œIs this just a history lesson that Iâ€™m making? I thought itâ€™s good to be reminded that these are important topics.â€
â€œNow, though, Iâ€™m a little astonished,â€ she said. â€œIt has all come back.â€
In the excerpt from the novelâ€™s first volume featured below, Karen, with the help of Ankaâ€™s widower, Sam, obtains crucial evidence for her murder investigation: an old recording of Anka describing her life before she came to America.
â€œMy Favorite Thing Is Monsters,â€ by Emil Ferris, is out this month from Fantagraphics Books.Â