'My Favorite Thing is Monsters' wins 2018 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize

May 02, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — “My Favorite Thing is Monsters” by Emil Ferris, published by Fantagraphics Books, has won the 2018 Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year. Penn State University Libraries sponsors the juried annual award and its administrator, the Pennsylvania Center for the Book.

“Part horror, part mystery, part transmuted memoir, ‘My Favorite Thing is Monsters’ resolutely rejects to settle into a particular genre,” the jury 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. Its layout defies most comics norms to create a … unique visual experience: a dialogic space for readers to affectively engage with social commentary while witnessing Karen Reyes’ inner and outer worlds as they collapse into each other. 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.”

The Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize is presented annually to the best graphic novel, fiction or nonfiction, published in the previous calendar year by a living U.S. or Canadian citizen or resident. It honors Ward’s influence in the development of the graphic novel and celebrates the gift of an extensive collection of Ward’s wood engravings, original book illustrations and other graphic art donated to Penn State’s University Libraries by his daughters Robin Ward Savage and Nanda Weedon Ward. Between 1929 and 1937, Ward published his six groundbreaking wordless novels: “Gods’ Man,” “Madman’s Drum,” “Wild Pilgrimage,” “Prelude to a Million Years,” “Song without Words” and “Vertigo.”

Ferris will receive $2,500 and a two-volume set of Ward’s six novels published by The Library of America at a ceremony this fall at Pattee and Paterno Library on Penn State’s University Park campus.

The jury also awarded two honor books: “Eartha” by Cathy Malkasian, published by Fantagrahics Books, and “Hostage” by Guy Delisle, published by Drawn & Quarterly. The jury said, “ ‘Eartha’ immerses readers into the … fictional world of Echo Fjord, a haven for unfinished dreams that float there from the dystopian-hued ‘City Across the Sea.’ A fun, fable-like parable about our own greedy, information-saturated world, ‘Eartha’ — both the book and main character — offers readers a temporary reprieve from cynicism by providing a powerful reminder of humankind’s capacity for kindness and love.”

“Hostage” follows Christophe André, a Doctors without Borders worker who is captured in 1997 by Chechen rebels in Russia. The jury said Delisle “masterfully captures the banality and frustration of captivity along with all of the fears and small victories,” and that “ ‘Hostage’ is a meditation on darkness and light, inhumanity and compassion, hopelessness and faith.”

The Lynd Ward Prize 2018 selection jury included Penn State academic department representatives who use the graphic novel in their teaching or research, as well as Penn State alumni and student representatives with graphic novel expertise:

  • Camila Gutierrez, a Penn State doctoral candidate in comparative literature, focuses on research involving traditions of Anglo comics, Japanese manga and Latin American historieta as observed from East/West and North/South comparative perspectives;
  • Paul Karasik, author and cartoonist from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, with David Mazzucchelli adapted Paul Auster’s novel “City of Glass,” named one of the Best Comics of the 20th Century by The Comics Journal, and with Mark Newgarden co-authored “How To Read Nancy,” a recently published lexicon of the language of comics through the deconstruction of a single comic strip from Aug. 8, 1959, among other works;
  • Lars Stoltzfus-Brown, a Penn State doctoral candidate in mass communications, studies comics and adaptations using intersectional feminist political economy, which explores how comics portray gender, race and sexuality as well as tensions between comics creators and corporate entities through time;
  • Matt Tucker, a Penn State undergraduate student in the College of Information Sciences and Technology, enjoys learning about different cultures through graphic novels; and
  • Joseph Michael Valente, author, associate professor of education and co-director of Penn State’s Center for Disability Studies, wrote “d/Deaf and d/Dumb: A Portrait of a Deaf Kid as a Young Superhero,” published in 2011 by Peter Lang, and developed and taught the special topics course “Mutant Methodology: Graphic Novels as a Research Medium.”

The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress, encourages Pennsylvania’s citizens and residents to study, honor, celebrate and promote books, reading, libraries and literacy. In addition to the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, it also administers the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry AwardPublic Poetry ProjectLetters about LiteratureA Baker’s Dozen: The Best Children’s Books for Family LiteracyPoems from Life; and the interactive Literary & Cultural Heritage Map of Pennsylvania.

For more information about the selection criteria and how to submit books for consideration for the 2019 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, contact Ellysa Cahoy at ellysa@psu.edu or 814-865-9696, or visit the Pennsylvania Center for the Book’s website.

  • book cover with title text, author name, drawing of woman's purple face looking at reader, old mansion window and full moon in background

    “My Favorite Thing is Monsters” by Emil Ferris, published by Fantagraphics Books, has won the 2018 Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year. It is 'the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography ... a revelatory work of striking originality that has been lauded as the debut graphic novel of the year,' according to... Read more ›

    IMAGE: courtesy of Fantagraphics Books
  • photo portrait of white woman with long, dark, curly hair in front of bold floral patterned fabric backdrop

    Emil Ferris wrote "My Favorite Thing is Monsters," her debut graphic novel, after overcoming significant personal setbacks. Once a freelance illustrator and toy designer, according to The Guardian, she contracted West Nile Virus in 2001 and was paralyzed. An article from... Read more ›

    IMAGE: Fantagraphics Books Inc/Flickr
  • illustrated book cover with title, showing woman rowing boat, looking up, with cityscape in background

    One of two honor books selected by the 2018 Lynd Ward Prize jury, “Eartha” by Cathy Malkasian, is published by Fantagrahics Books. According to the publisher’s website, Malkasian’s fourth graphic novel is “a metaphorical fable that resonates with contemporary themes ... an expansive tale of pastoral life, city corruption, greed and addictions” that “reverberates with questions plaguing us... Read more ›

    IMAGE: courtesy of Fantagraphics Books
  • illustrated book cover with title showing man lying on floor in darkness, with standing shadow of figure in lit doorway to his right

    One of two honor books selected by the 2018 Lynd Ward Prize jury, “Hostage” by Guy Delisle, published by Drawn & Quarterly, is a biography of Doctors Without Borders administrator Christophe André, who was kidnapped in 1997 and kept in confinement for three months. “Thoughtful, intense, and moving,” according to the publisher, it “takes a profound look at what drives our will to survive in... Read more ›

    IMAGE: courtesy of Drawn & Quarterly
(1 of 4)

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 04, 2018