Kirkus Reviews QR Code


Book Two

by Emil Ferris ; illustrated by Emil Ferris

Pub Date: May 28th, 2024
ISBN: 9781683969273
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books

Ferris delivers the second part of her debut graphic novel of queer coming-of-age werewolf art noir.

In politically charged 1960s Chicago, teenage werewolf Karen Reyes is still haunted by the murder of her neighbor, and now by the cancerous death of her conservative mother, whose worries bleed into Karen’s dreams via a beheaded but sentient teddy bear. With Mom’s judgments gone from the land of the living, Karen sweetly pursues her first girlfriend, a fellow member of the Eternal Guild of the Benevolent Undead, who bonds with Karen while stealing coins from a pay toilet at the Art Institute of Chicago. An aspiring artist, Karen frequents the museum with her brother, Deeze, an artist and local mob enforcer who holds court as Karen draws selections from the collection, the re-creations appearing in Ferris’ style of finely hatched ballpoint pen on lined spiral notebook paper. With her world under siege by her mysterious father, the Invisible Man, and the possibility of her protector, Deeze, being drafted into the Vietnam War, Karen fixates on depictions of the biblical Judith’s seduction and beheading of a general who threatened her village. Ferris’ take on pulp and horror magazine covers punctuates the story and echoes all manner of luridness uncovered as Karen deepens her investigation into the heartbreaking life and violent death of her neighbor Anka Silverberg, a Holocaust survivor. Karen comes to suspect Deeze of terrible things, up to and including the murder of a brother Karen remembers only in dreams. Ferris’ visual style achieves depth and contour through layering and at maximum effect reaches a rich, leathery aesthetic. Color pops throughout the mostly black-ink pages, and close-ups appear breathtakingly photographic, with smaller, less-detailed panels existing as exquisite doodles. A cliffhanger ending could promise more monsters.

Heartfelt horror and spectacular cartooning.