cover image My Favorite Thing Is Monsters

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters

Emil Ferris. Fantagraphics, $39.99 trade paper (386p) ISBN 978-1-60699-959-2

Karen loves monsters, comic books, and her tattooed, art-loving big brother, Deeze. She hates her mom’s cancer diagnosis, the cool kids at school, and being a little girl Chicago in the 1960s. She wants to be a monster, but when the upstairs neighbor, a Holocaust survivor left haunted and unstable by her experiences, dies under suspicious circumstances, Karen decides to become a detective. This stunningly ambitious and assured graphic novel, the creator’s first, slides gracefully between past and present, reality and imagination, and the shifting kingdom of children and the hard-concrete world of adults. Ferris’s writing, full of wordplay, elisions, and unpredictable revelations, suggests the cockeyed genius of Lynda Barry, comics’ most fearless chronicler of childhood. But her art, presented on lined notebook paper in the form of Karen’s own ballpoint-and-pencil sketches (though surely no real 10-year-old could draw this beautifully), is entirely her own. This is a book that surprises at every turn. It’s about the power of art, the nature of monsters, the way secrets keep unfolding, and everything else Karen’s investigations can uncover. It’s the best graphic novel to come along in recent memory. (Feb.)