Friday, 14 April 2017

MY FAVOURITE THING IS MONSTERS VOL. 1 - review


Have you ever got barely a chapter into a book and decided that it was made for you. Pages of exquisitely cross-hatched grotesque characters, drawn into a lined notebook by a ten year old girl who prefers to identify as a were-wolf. Her description of a mob of angry Chicagoans as Mean, Ordinary and Boring made a flutter in my heart, and then her decision to spend the rest of the story dressed as a detective, because she's lost her "fear of being different", is quite inspiring. Each chapter is punctuated with covers of Hollywood monster magazines. I was barely a quarter into My Favourite Thing Is Monsters before deciding it was one of my favourite comics.

Emil Ferris' debut comic came about after a devastating bout of the West Nile virus led to her freelance design work drying up. To add insult to injury, the book was held hostage at the Panama Canal when the printers went bankrupt. But eventually the book came out, and MYTIM processess Ferris' family history of the Holocaust and her belief that becoming a monster frees you from the tyranny of beauty.

Set in late 60s Chicago and told from the perspective of young Karen Reyes, a horror fanatic who idolises her older brother Deeze, we see her become embroiled in the story of neighbour Anka. While it is believed that Anka committed suicide, Karen suspects that there is more nefarious dealings, and inbetween school and family troubles, we learn about Anka's troubled early life in Germany and her deportation to a Nazi concentration camp.

The first thing that demands to be brought up is the truly incredible artwork. This is the type of line work that you can gaze at for hours in pure wonderment. And what's more incredible is just how fitting the style is the story. This is Karen's diary, sketched in biro into a spiral bound lined notebook. Deeze encourages her drawing, and we get great discriptions of their trips to art museums. Karen's passion for recording Anka's tale is rousing in itself.


Ferris'/Karen's mix of montage and deviations keeps the story interesting, but however, as the discovery of Anka's past becomes apparent, the pace slows down a little. Annoyingly, the book ends on a couple of big cliff hangers, which means we'll have to wait till October when the second volume is released for these questions to be answered. Some of the plot points and twists are slightly cliched, but they are easily forgiven.

With the news that Sony have brought he film rights, its going to be an interesting journey to see how this is translated. One of My Favourite Thing Is Monsters strengths is that it truly enlivens its medium, being a fascinating and entrancing edition to the comic style. If you take the time to sit down this weighty tome, Ferris will become your new favourite artist, and Karen your new favourite hero.

8/10

Layla

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