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The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil Hardcover – October 7, 2014
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“Slyly exquisite...What happens over the course of the next 200+ pages is a dilemma Roald Dahl would have relished: The roiling anarchy of There erupts on Here--specifically, on poor Dave's previously clean-shaven cheeks--in the form of a great, snarly, twisting, unstoppable beard….If Collins is right--if, as he says, stories are necessary--then let's hope this wry young writer/artist has got a lot more lies to tell us.” ―Glen Weldon, NPR
“I don't want to spoil it…[but] it's kind of Roald Dahl--it's very funny, dark, fable-like and about exactly what it's title says.” ―Linda Holmes, NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour
“The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil has the tone of a playful fable, from the cracked syntax of its title onward…For a book about the liberating joys of disruption, though, it's exceptionally disciplined: Collins renders several hundred pages of immaculately ruled buildings and bean-faced people (and the fuzzy curlicues that interfere with them) in meticulous, microdetailed pencil textures.” ―NewYorkTimes.com (Sunday Book Review)
“With one hell of a title, Stephen Collins' graphic novel makes an immediate impression, and the interior contents are just as gripping as the name….It's a poignant parable about the value of individuality and going against the grain, presented with a charming art style that brings a smooth animated quality to the story without losing sight of the darker aspects of the plot.” ―The A.V. Club (Best Comics of the Year)
“Filled with elegant black-and-white sketches and darkly philosophical commentary, Collins's graphic novel details what happens when borders collapse and stories have no tidy endings.” ―TimeOut.com
“The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil is an artistic marvel, and that splendor heightens the emotion of the story. The final moments of Dave's story are incredibly inspirational, and The Bangles' "Eternal Flame" has never been used as effectively as it is in those pages. Whimsical, bittersweet, and visually stunning, this graphic novel is the perfect parable for all ages, praising the value of eccentricity in a world of overwhelming uniformity with the help of unruly facial hair.” ―The AV Club
“Sublime.” ―Popular Mechanics
“A book about loneliness, fear, and worry that still manages to have a small glimmer of hope nestled in amongst the burly titular beard…Gorgeously illustrated….It's easily the most engaging thing I've read all month.” ―Panels (Best Comics of October)
“[Collins'] art -- especially as the beard grows and pages full of regimented, small panels breach into 2-page spreads of swirling hair -- is sensuous and soft. The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil is also a well-designed book, complete with two different finishes on the cover: a gloss on the white lettering and a velvety matte finish on the rest…It all works together to create a hushed tone, a kind of gentle melancholy.” ―Paste magazine
“More than adequately Kafkaesque…but the art is the real showstopper here. You can obsess over panel after carefully crosshatched panel for hours without feeling you've exhausted the book's possibilities. The black-and-white interior is rich with nuance and depth…[It] reminds me of the work of Aubrey Beardsley.” ―BookRiot (Books for the Bearded)
“This book is completely unique. Whether or not you read graphic novels, the title alone is enough to draw you into this one. It's a look at society as we know it, the way we look at the people around us, and the villain of the story is… a beard.” ―Bustle
“A moving and remarkably funny examination of conformity, safety, uncertainty and--yes--what happens when a man grows a beard so big that it threatens to smother entire city blocks….Discover: A compelling and funny spin on Kafka's Metamorphosis.” ―Shelf Awareness
“Mysterious and often wryly funny…with precise yet soft illustrations reminiscent of Raymond Briggs. A visually lyrical modern fable that manages to be both utterly unique and eerily recognizable.” ―Library Journal
“Subtly menacing...[A] Tim Burton-esque tale for Halloween.” ―BookPage
“Collins' illustrations are lush, rounded affairs with voluptuous shading across oblong planes. Expressions pop, from the severe upturn where a sympathetic psychiatrist's brows meet to the befuddlement of a schoolgirl as the beard's hypnotic powers take hold… Rich, creamy art and playful paneling make for a fun read.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“An amazing book. Completely original. Surreal yet believable.” ―Raymond Briggs
“It's part satire, part parable, part nursery rhyme, and part disaster movie, and it's an utter joy to read.” ―The Times (London)
“As splendiferous as its title.” ―Metro (UK)
“Clever, funny, and beautiful to look at… Surely destined to become a classic.” ―Rachel Cooke, The Observer (UK)
“A gorgeously penciled fable. The pacing and page design are immaculate.” ―The Sunday Herald (Scotland)
About the Author
Stephen Collins was born in 1980 and grew up in south London. He began cartooning in 2003, and has since won several awards, including the Jonathan Cape/Observer Graphic Short Story Prize and the inaugural 9th Art Award. His work has appeared in many publications worldwide, including Wired, GQ, and the BBC, and he contributes regular comics to the Guardian Weekend and Prospect magazine. He lives near Hertford with his wife and a well-charged beard trimmer.
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Top Customer Reviews
The basic gist of the story is a man named Dave lives on an island named Here. Here is the same in all aspects of life. As he questions life and thinks about There he breaks out in a beard which causes the uniformity to go unbalanced. The story dives into what happens when his life changes.
I found a couple passages worth sharing
"Because Here, the sea was a thing to fear, The sea led to There."
"There was disorder. There was chaos. There was evil.
"There was a place to which nobody had ever even been. No one alive anyway. there stories were enough for most people, including Dave.
I bundle all these together because they are really close together in the book. More importantly how many of us are afraid of "there". That place right beyond our comfort zone where it is scary. It is tough to walk that extra step to new territory. It reminds me of Lord of the Rings (thanks for jogging my memory during your keynote @stumpteacher)
You see this book was powerful in the sense that it reminded that so often we worry about not messing up with things because it has always been that way. What if we push a bit further? What if we take that next step? We just might find that the stories we grew up with and start to believe are just that - stories.
I recommend this book to read if you are stuck. You cannot find your way out of Here to get to There.
The novel has beautiful artwork and a strong, but powerful message told through the lens of Dave and what happens when you start to grow a beard.
Check out the book
A place that’s safe, neat, tidy with nothing for anyone to fear
But something uneasy lurks beneath the quiet and calm:
A single tiny hair on Dave’s face that becomes a gigantic beard - and causes much harm!
The beard can’t be cut, it grows back far too quick
Becoming larger than Dave, much bushier and thick
It becomes enormous and engulfs the town, much to the Government’s displeasure
So a solution is decided, for desperate times call for desperate measures
Stephen Collins’ comic reads a lot like a Roald Dahl tale or modern day fable
Whose message is very obviously displeased with 21st century society’s staples
Of conformity and uniformity, an alleged dearth of creativity
That manifests very pleasingly in this book with excessive beardity
Because modern life’s no fun
At least not for some
Who want something different
From the everyday humdrum
Collins’ pencil art style is ambitious and charming
While the book itself is written with delightful rhyming
And at times it reads like a Pixar short
(Which is certainly a complimentary note!)
Because it’s a dark and unusual, original book
That any fan of graphic literature can’t fail to be hooked
With its unique imagery, style and tone
When Collins created it, he must’ve been in the zone!
And though it’s a hefty volume in page count and size
The narrative is enthralling and sure to mesmerize
For, despite its themes and critiques that, on the page, are quite clear
You can also read it as a simple fun comic – about a GIGANTIC BEARD!
When I was probably about six, in the typical fashion of my Dad, he managed to convince me that he maintained the beard because he had no face underneath. Thus, I had nightmares about my Dad not having a proper face for months. His beard was so much a part of his identity that, when I told my then new boyfriend (now husband) about an old photo infamous in our family lore in which my infant Dad was sitting on a blanket on the floor at home, chewing on the end of a pipe so that it looked like he was smoking it, my boyfriend immediately pictured a baby with a full beard. Furthermore, he only realized what was wrong with that mental image when I showed him the actual picture.
It wasn't just "a beard," it was a follicular masterpiece on which strangers would frequently compliment him. I distinctly remember one time when he came to visit me at the dorm Freshman year. It took me a minute to come downstairs and greet him, and by the time I arrived, he was surrounded by at least half a dozen male students all fawning over his beard. He had no tips to offer them: he was simply blessed. When we took care of my niece for the summer and she was only a few months old, she loved to grab it in both fists, lift it up, and then nestle her whole head down twixt beard and chest for a nap. Small children were either fascinated or psychologically disturbed by the beard, but that made it even more mysterious and storied. So, it is with that beard-related history in mind that I couldn't refrain from picking up The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil. I truly saw how a beard could be evil, or at least be an interesting subject for a graphic novel.
During the ensuing minutes, which my husband spent searching for books on his list amidst crowds of holiday shoppers, I was transported to "Here," a fictional town where all aspects of life are kept as neat and tidy and meaningless as possible. Perfectly-trimmed hedges line sidewalks where perfectly-trimmed people walk to work, all on schedule, all in lockstep, all the time. Here conjures up images of Pleasantville, and after a few pages of introduction to the surroundings, I instantly realize that the yet unseen beard probably isn't evil, it just defies the rules of Here.
...which is a shame for our protagonist, gentle-souled Dave. When one unruly follicle suddenly gives way to a full beard, which continues to grow no matter what efforts Dave makes, he loses his job, restaurants will not serve him, and he is trapped in his own home, guilty of the ultimate sin against the society of Here: untidiness. Nobody can help him (not that anyone actually tries), because the beard is impervious to shaving, waxing, plucking, and trimming. In short, the beard is there to stay, and it encroaches upon the neatly organized society of Here like a sibling told to stay on his side of the backseat during a lengthy road trip. And, because it reminds Dave's coworkers and friends and neighbors of "There," which is to say anywhere beyond the confines of Here, they react with selfish fear and hatred, as if Dave has personally, willfully called up the essence of the wilds of There onto his face to untame Here's way of life and let a bit of There in, instead of reacting as if a horribly scary and random thing is happening to Dave.
Yes, poor Dave.
This is one of the most beautiful graphic novels I have ever read. The art is so simple, so powerful, so visually pleasing that I could not look away. I loved how Collins transitioned from the clean lines and rigid geometric shapes of before-beard Here to visual chaos after.
More than anything, I felt for Dave's character, and I was moved by his depth of soul, his sensitivity, and his compassion in the midst of a society where most people seem to possess none of those traits.
Dystopian stories have been all the rage for years now, but it isn't a YA trilogy that captures the essence of a Dystopia best in my opinion, it is The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins.
If you love graphic novels, Dystopian tales, or beards, this one's for you.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The back blurb, title, and art made me think I was in for a lighthearted, whimsical adventure that would be...Read more