Lynd Ward Prize winner Emil Ferris to speak Oct. 17

October 15, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Emil Ferris, 2018 winner of the Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year, will receive the award on Wednesday, Oct. 17, for “My Favorite Thing is Monsters.” Ferris also will discuss how she began making comics and the creation of the award-winning fictional graphic diary.

The award ceremony and author talk, which is open to the public, will begin at 4 p.m. in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, on Penn State’s University Park campus. The event also will be streamed online for viewing via Mediasite Live. 

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 the publisher's website.

IMAGE: courtesy of Fantagraphics Books

“Part horror, part mystery, part transmuted memoir,” the jury said, “'My Favorite Thing is Monsters' resolutely rejects to settle into a particular genre. Its play on narrative perspective and media usage make its crime solving plot all the more satisfying and brilliant. This book is a masterwork as determined as its young protagonist to reveal the truth of our sad, misguided, cruel, and yet tender species.”

The book’s layout defies most comics norms to create a captivatingly unique visual experience: a dialogic space for readers to affectively engage with social commentary while witnessing protagonist 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 jury also recognized two 2018 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 for Graphic Novel of the Year is sponsored by the Penn State University Libraries and administered by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. It 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.

The award’s selection jury includes representatives from various Penn State academic departments who use the graphic novel in their teaching or research, as well as representatives with graphic novel expertise from among Penn State’s alumni and students.

Established in 2011, the Lynd Ward Prize honors Ward’s formative 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 the Penn State University Libraries by his daughters Robin Ward Savage and Nanda Weedon Ward. Recently, the University Libraries digitized the collection, titled Lynd Ward Wood Engravings and Other Graphic Art, circa 1920-1975, and made it available online.

Co-sponsors with the Pennsylvania Center for the Book for the Lynd Ward Prize include Barbara I. Dewey, dean of the Penn State University Libraries and Scholarly Communications; Penn State University Libraries; the Eberly Family Special Collections Library; Library Learning Services; the English Department in the College of the Liberal Arts; and the College of the Liberal Arts.

Ward, creator of the first American wordless novel, “God’s Man,” produced it and five additional groundbreaking wordless novels between 1929 and 1937 — “Madman’s Drum,” “Wild Pilgrimage,” “Prelude to a Million Years,” “Songs without Words,” and “Vertigo.” They have been re-issued by the Library of America in a two-volume boxed set titled “Lynd Ward: Six Novels in Woodcuts,” the first time the nonprofit publisher has included a graphic novelist in its award-winning series. 

For more information about the Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year or questions about accommodations at the ceremony, contact Caroline Wermuth at 814-863-5472 or 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 814-865-9696 or, or visit the Pennsylvania Center for the Book’s website.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 31, 2018