As someone who desperately wishes they were a good artist, my favorite part of this class has been analyzing the illustrations of the graphic novels and comics. I think it’s truly astounding how talented all of the illustrators are, and I love seeing how each work is entirely different from the next.
For example, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home is essentially colorless, and every image is based off of a real photograph she took. How INSANELY cool is that? Then we have novels like Watchmen who are quite literally bursting with color.
All of these aspects were interesting to me. They were something I thought about in class and while reading, but not something I gave too much thought to… until My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. I quite literally can not get these illustrations out of my head. I’ll be honest, I’m not the most keen on the storyline, but that’s completely just personal genre preference. However, I literally think about the images all the time.
There is something incredibly stunning about how purposeful each stroke of her pens are, while being so purposeless- as if they’re just doodles. This made me really want to go research the artist’s story and learn more about her artistic journey, because I quite honestly can’t imagine having that kind of talent.
I think what astonishes me the most is that this is Emil Ferris’ first graphic novel, which I guess makes sense considering this took her 6 whole years to finish. Upon looking everything Emil Ferris up on the internet, I learned that she was a freelance illustrator and toy designer. Pretty neat, huh?
At age 40, Ferris contracted the west nile virus and became paralyzed. She lost dexterity in her right hand and it wasn’t until 8 years later that she started drawing again with My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. She averaged about 2 pages per day, working 16-hour a day shifts. I think what fascinates me about how much time she put into this is that, like I mentioned above, she makes the drawings look so incredibly effortless. Although I can barely draw a stick figure, I can’t help but think when I look down into the book that I’m looking at doodles from my classes that I’ve drawn in the 50 mins at my desk. So the fact that this took her so long makes sense, but still seems strange because of how the drawings look.
Although I can’t say I’m an expert with graphic novels, since I didn’t read one until taking this class, I can say that the illustrations in this graphic novel are by far the most intricate and unique illustrations I have ever seen. I am absolutely amazed by the talent Ferris possesses and hope she brings out more things soon.
Below, I’ve included some of her, equally amazing, freelance illustrations. Feel free to let me know what you think! I think it’s pretty stellar how different the freelance work differs from her style in My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. I encourage you all to check out her website, because there’s some really really cool stuff on there! http://emilferris.com