Our Favorite Graphic Novel of 2017 is making big waves this year. Published by Fantagraphics Books and created by Emil Ferris, “My Favorite Thing is Monsters” has won the 2018 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Award according to the Penn State News. The graphic novel’s official synopsis reads:
“Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late ’60s Chicago, “My Favorite Thing Is Monsters” is the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. aren Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen’s investigation takes us back to Anka’s life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge. Rendered in a kaleidoscopically and breathtakingly virtuosic visual style that combines panel sequences and montage, Emil Ferris’ draftsmanship echoes the drawing of Otto Dix, George Grosz, and Robert Crumb. “My Favorite Thing Is Monsters” is a revelatory work of striking originality that has been lauded as the debut graphic novel of the year ”
The award show and juries are sponsored by Penn State University Libraries and its administrator, the Pennsylvania Center for the Book. The Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize is presented annually to the best graphic novel, in fiction or nonfiction, that has been published in the previous calendar year by a living U.S. or Canadian citizen or resident. The award is named in honor of Lynd Ward, an American artist and storyteller, born in Chicago in 1905, and best known for his series of wordless novels using wood engraving, many of which have been donated to the University’s libraries by his daughters Robin Ward Savage and Nanda Weedon Ward. His six wordless novels include “Gods’ Man,” “Madman’s Drum,” “Wild Pilgrimage,” “Prelude to a Million Years,” “Song without Words” and “Vertigo,” which were published between 1929 and 1937 and greatly influenced the rise of the graphic novel.
The jury who awarded the prize said, “This book is a masterwork as determined as its young protagonist to reveal the truth of our sad, misguided, cruel and yet tender species.” They continued, saying “The pages of ‘Monsters’ perhaps are to comics paneling what poetry is to prose, and are richly drawn as crosshatched illustrations in ball-point pen, with stylistic nods to film noir, horror magazines and museum art.” Ferris’s work earned her $2,500 and a two-volume set of Ward’s six novels published by The Library of America which will be presented during a ceremony at the Pattee and Paterno Library on Penn State’s University Park campus.
The jury also honored two other books: “Eartha,” by Cathy Malkasian, and “Hostage,” by Guy Delisle. “Eartha” is described as “a metaphorical fable that resonates with contemporary themes,” and is published by Fantagraphics. “Hostage,” published by Drawn & Quarterly, follows a Doctors without Borders worker who is captured in 1997 by Chechen rebels in Russia.