Episode 257: Emil Ferris


“Do not listen to people’s idea about what you can accomplish,”  Emil Ferris insists as we wrap up our interview. “ You must do the thing you were sent here to do.” We’re short on time during the quick conversation. Someone’s stopped by to whisk her off to her next appointment. But, she adds, it’s important that she get that one simple and powerful message across. Ferris’ brief career as a cartoonist is nothing if not a lesson in perseverance. In 2001, she was paralyzed by West Nile Virus contracted from a mosquito bite. After a hopeless diagnosis from doctors, she learned to walk and draw again, eventually receiving a creative writing MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2017, at age 55, Ferris release her debut graphic novel, My Favorite Thing is Monster, a painstakingly crafted coming of age story that led Art Spiegelman to call the cartoonist, “one of the most important comics artists of our time” in a lengthy New York Times piece. Since then, the book went on to become far and away the most lauded book of the year, with a second part due out this August. In this brief but fascinating conversation, Ferris relays a message of hopefulness for aspiring artists and those dealing with seemingly insurmountable health issues. The cartoonist also expounds on her love for classic horror movies and how to overcome demons of negative thinking.

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