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My Favorite Thing Is Monsters Paperback – February 28, 2017
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- The New York Times ― Critics’ Pick
“My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is not only Ferris’s first graphic novel but also her first published work. ... Yet her mastery of comics, her pyrotechnic drawings, and her nested narratives are already placing her among the greatest practitioners of the form.”
- The New Yorker
“This extraordinary book has instantly rocketed Ferris into the graphic novel elite alongside Art Spiegelman, Alison Bechdel and Chris Ware. You see, she's produced something rare, a page-turning story whose pages are so brilliantly drawn you don't want to turn them.”
- Terry Gross, NPR: Fresh Air
“A thrilling and surprisingly profound novel ... The book is a fine balance of stunning artwork and terrific writing.”
- Chicago Tribune
“One of the most profound, ambitious and accomplished creative works to appear in any medium this decade. ... Rarely have words and pictures worked together so seamlessly in service of such a complex narrative.”
“The novel tackles race, gender, and what it means to be 'monstrous' in big and small ways. It could not be more relevant to today’s climate.”
- Mother Jones
“No one has ever made a comic like Emil Ferris’s assured, superhumanly ambitious two-part debut graphic novel My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. ... It threatens not merely to exceed established standards of excellence, but to set new ones.”
- The Guardian
“An ambitious, emotional, beautifully illustrated exploration of a 10-year-old girl’s experience growing up late ’60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is an astounding debut, weaving an intricate web of plot threads that keeps the reader compelled from beginning to end.”
- The A.V. Club
“An extraordinary literary experience that tackles questions of racial, sexual, cultural, professional, and class identity with aplomb and aesthetic glory. Welcome to the canon, Ms. Ferris.”
“Each page of the book is a small masterpiece: detailed, passionate, leaking genius. Ferris’s artwork bullies and commands the reader’s attention, each page bringing her to the brink of exhaustion because the struggle between art and words is so great, and the whole is so sensorially overwhelming.”
- The Los Angeles Review of Books
About the Author
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The narrator in Ferris’ stunningly illustrated graphic novel, like myself as an adolescent, seeks escape from her feelings of loneliness and alienation by immersing herself in fantasies of thrillingly compelling supernatural beasts. Ferris, writing from the perspective of the narrator, Karen, creates an equally enticing world of fantasy by blending stories and imagery from Karen’s experience as an urban Chicago preteen in the 1960s with depictions of the horror magazines and paintings Karen adores. The book , formatted to resemble a lined notebook sketch pad, brilliantly perpetuates the illusion that the reader is stepping into the imaginary realm of a creative and extremely perceptive young girl. Detailed interpretations of monster magazine covers and famous art works such as Fuseli’s “ The Nightmare” are juxtaposed with gruesome depictions of Karen’s neighbors and playfully doodled sketches of Karen as a trench-coated child werewolf. As Karen explores her interest in art, Ferris’ illustrations reveal a variety of styles—from the neon-lit grotesqueries of Ernst Kirchner and the German Expressionists to the luridly seductive pulp art of popular comics and the grittily unflattering portraits of Robert Crumb. Unlike many graphic novels, Ferris’ work focuses on inner conflicts, the dangerous secrets festering inside neighbors, schoolmates, and family members that threaten to emerge in monstrous form when exposed.
Secrets connect the lives of Karen and the people she knows. During her attempts to unravel the mystery of her murdered neighbor Anka, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, Karen discovers secrets within her family and within herself. A growing awareness of her own sexuality and the tragic revelation of her mother’s fatal illness lead her to find strength and solace in her imagination. The monsters she loves, draws, and writes about are her salvation.
Ferris’s depiction of Karen’s monster fantasies and homoerotic stirrings while struggling with family tragedies, violence, and prejudice, though at times grim, is nevertheless inspiring, infused with wit, a sense of childhood resilience and untarnished insight. Like the enduring, undying creatures of the night that Karen idolizes, Ferris’ graphic novel (the first in a series) fascinates and enthralls, giving readers a tantalizing bite that leaves us craving more.
Many are already calling this a masterpiece, and they're right, IMO. I loved the quirky but skillful drawings.The story is surprisingly deep and wide-ranging. A local newspaper article explained that she sketches people on Chicago's El trains for inspiration, and that's easy to imagine in this book.
One of my favorite parts is the time she spends in the Art Institute with her brother Deeze, talking about various paintings, and even entering some.
If you enjoy graphic novels, you'll want to read this one. If you like reading something different, and seeing a new talent emerge onto the scene, that's reason to give this one a try, too. (
Well-written and deeply immersive, this piece drew me into the world of Karen, a monster-obsessed kid struggling with sexuality, race, poverty, and the violence of her surroundings. It is as dark a work as I've read in comics yet has a jaunty sort of zest for life in it that constantly pulls the narrative along and saves the reader from being overwhelmed by some of the disturbing elements within. It's especially astonishing as the first work from a writer/artist, working in seclusion for over six years. It reminds me, in all the best ways, of the confessional work of Robert Crumb and Harvey Pekar, of the strange life-stories of Chris Ware and Daniel Clowes and Jeffrey Brown. It also reminds me of my own childhood, of how different a child can view the world, though my own early years were far less fearful. Ferris's illustrations also show an abiding love not just for horror movies (and particularly for our mutual Universal monster favorite, the Wolf Man) but for the great horror magazines of the 1960's from CREEPY and FAMOUS MONSTERS though the gory WEIRD and TERROR TALES varieties. Perhaps also some of the Spanish/Mexican horror mags, too, I'd guess.
This is a great book. I can see it speaking to those that struggled with gender issues, but its scope is well beyond that, a love poem to lonely, different kids everywhere. I eagerly await the second part of the story, which will be published in early 2018. Go to Amazon and browse through a few pages, if you wish. It is not a story for children (and, honestly, I swore aloud when I hit the pages that will keep it out of most school libraries) but it speaks to the damaged child in each of us, I think.
Top international reviews
That's about the best summary I can come up with for "My Favourite Thing is Monsters" by Emil Ferris. Emil has constructed a story world like no other, written from the perspective of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, who is thrown into a deviously twisted mystery involving the murder of her upstairs neighbour.
Karen's investigation leads her to the taped journals of Anka (her beautiful neighbour) and her harrowing past.
This is one hugely thick and immensely satisfying book to get wrapped up in. Laid out against the backdrop of a foolscap-lined spiral bound journal, Emil's artwork will grab you by the throat and shake you. Exquisite ballpen drawings intermixed with garishly coloured (but again gorgeous) pulp horror comic book covers and scratchier pen drawings, if nothing else it's a visual feast (and I've become completely obsessed with drawing and mimicking this style myself in my own art).
Beyond that though it's a gripping read as the story darts between Karen's observations of her dying mother, her louche brother and of course deeper digs into Anka's life.
It took a bit of getting hold of this in the UK but you can find copies (I highly recommend Speedy Kitty as a reseller if you want a copy pronto in great condition btw). It's probably one of the best graphic novels I've ever read (and I've read a lot), and I'm overjoyed to hear a sequel is on the way. You need this in your life, simple as.
It's rare that I stare at the art work in a graphic novel, literally examining every pen-stroke. It's amazing.
So the story is a bit clunky, the characters are a bit extreme, there is a 'Grave of the Fireflies' feel of, 'This can't get any worse, can it? Surely they're not going to make it worse? Can't I have a break for five minutes. Oh God, they're going to go there... Yep, they went there.' It's a bit much. And the book starts with one mystery, introduces at least two others, and only solves one of them. Or maybe solves it, because the solution is revealed in an art-infused vision.
If that hasn't put you off, you will probably love this book as much as I did. Spiegelman, Bechdel, you have a new peer. Although appropriately (given the 60s setting), the graphic style made me think of Robert Crumb - ugly-beautiful.
I could go on, and on, about the psychological depth, about the most shocking and beautiful image in the whole thing being a drawing of a girl's face in a mirror, about the intrusion of 60s politics in a little girl's tough, tough life, about the encroachment of the bad monsters, who hate the good monsters and how much a memoir about a distant childhood is now about America, TODAY.
Just read it.
I have very rarely encountered books this powerful, and yet I use consume them in huge quantities. Each page has a grip on me and never let go. I walked straight into the story, Karen's character is atypical and so endearing, each drawn extra you spot has an actual background, the book is amazingly rich in details, the art is incredible... Everything feels so true in this book, and yet phantasmagorical. Knowing that a second volume is coming reassures. And I look forward to the French version, soon to be released by Mr. Toussaint Louverture, so I'll be able to showcase this wonder to my french-speaking friends and family.
Cuenta una historia que trata temas tan importantes como la infancia, la muerte, el poder de la imaginación, el amor dentro de una familia, etc... Y lo hace de una manera originalisima, a modo de un diario de la niña protagonista que es toda una artista y esta enamorada tanto del genero de terror de la epoca (los años 60) como del arte de los museos de la ciudad. El trabajo gráfico es apabullante, de un trabajo infinito y un gusto exquisito siempre al servicio de la narrativa de manera que las historias nos afecten todo lo posible.
Estoy deseando echarme a las manos la segunda parte.
Als jemand, der mit Graphic Novels nie so recht warm geworden ist, hat mich dieses Buch absolut geflasht. Dabei ist es so komplex, dass ich es nach dem ersten Durchackern gleich wieder von vorn begonnen habe. Die Story ist nichts für seichte Gemüter. Für mich eine Art literarischer Irrgarten, den man nur langsam (und niemals so ganz) auflöst. Ich habe das Buch mehrmals in unterschiedlichen Sprachen verschenkt.
The illustrations were superb, the reproductions of famous paintings were an added bonus because I know nothing about art but now I want to visit museums and stare at things and imagine the story behind them all.
I'm very happy with my purchase and the time it took me to finish this book.