Book reviews


I don’t usually read comics or graphic novels, but I made an exception for The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins because the cover art and title were so intriguing. Ordinarily choosing a book by the cover might be seen as a superficial way to choose a book, but for this book, they were completely descriptive of the story and illustrations within.

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil is a strange story which I would describe as a fairy tale with a moral. Stephen Collins has a distinct style and his illustrations are interesting. They tell the story without the reader having to actually read the words, although the language is poetic.

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Dave lives in a place called ‘Here.’ Everyone living Here is neat, and organised and regulated. Nobody stands out. Nobody wears beards.

Somewhere else is called ‘There.’ ‘There’ is the opposite of ‘Here’, and is chaotic and frightening. People living ‘Here’ are afraid of ‘There’.

Dave is happy living ‘Here’ and would have continued with his orderly, structured life indefinitely, except that one day, a hair on his face started to grow and grow and grow. Dave cut his beard, but it continued to grow too quickly to manage,. His beard hair created a hazard, not only for himself, but for the other people living ‘Here’.

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The moral of the story is a little heavy-handed. Dave’s beard was different, which translates to being evil. People living ‘Here’ were afraid of anything different, so Dave and his beard had to be gotten rid of.

For me, the illustrations made this book special. The story, not so much, although I see the author’s point.

Funnily enough, loads of men in Melbourne are wearing beards this year, teamed with short, side-parted hair styles, Ned Kelly style.


Ned Kelly was an infamous Australian bushranger, who has somehow become an iconic Australian figure. When he was captured and hung, his last words were supposedly, “Such is life”. Bogans, (not hipsters), very often have Ned Kelly’s likeness tattooed on their upper arms in a sort of Bogan uniform. Melbourne hipsters seem to often wear check shirts and drink craft beers, which along with their beards, are another type of uniform.


Several weeks after reading this story, I can’t decide if I liked The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil or not.



Comments on: "The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins" (10)

  1. Yeah, the moral does seem a bit in your face, so to speak! I’m hoping this whole beard trend stops soon – I’m alright with a subtle bit of stubble, but giant rodent-like creatures hanging from faces should be banned! (And no, I am NOT just jealous!)

  2. Sometimes I get a bit frustrated with these books that insist that everything different automatically means that it is good simply because it is different, and, by default, anyone who is hesitant to accept change is immediately narrow-minded, evil, and a bit stupid. It seems rather simple to me to assume that all change = good. Perhaps I’m narrow-minded, evil, and a bit stupid, but sometimes I don’t think change is positive, and I don’t think that I should have to accept that something is fabulous simply on the basis that it’s “different.”

    Tales of learning to accept people despite their differences are good, but I think that they sometimes overlook the subtleties and nuances of real life, wherein we must determine whether the “difference” is immaterial or whether the “difference” does in fact indicate that behavior that isn’t really acceptable.

    I’m getting super rambly here now, but I can remember being a youngster and Mom not wanting us to hang out with a family where the kids were allowed to swear. She never taught us that they were bad people or that we were better than them, but there was definitely a lesson that just because they were “different” didn’t mean that it was acceptable.

    ANYWAY wow sorry for meandering on. And interesting read, and it does look like the illustrations were great fun. 😀

    • Hi Sarah, wow, this sounds like a moral you really care about. I have to say, I agree, and I don’t believe I’m particularly old-fashioned or small-minded either. Change for the sake of change is not always sensible. I’m sure I spent my younger years trying to be ‘different,’ in exactly the same way as my peers. I think as I’ve gotten older I’ve naturally become my tolerant of differences, but have conformed more within my own lifestyle, sometimes because it is the only way to succeed (I’m thinking here of my career in particular).
      Your upbringing sounds similar to mine. There was a family living near us where the parent’s lifestyle pushed a lot of society’s boundaries and we weren’t allowed to hang around with them. I thought they were exciting and glamorous, but as an adult I can see how tawdry things were for them. You (and your mother) are right, different does not mean acceptable.
      I enjoyed your comments very much, thank you. Rose
      As much as I enjoyed the illustrations, the message was heavy-handed, although I think in this book, the author’s heart is in the right place.

  3. Believe it or not, there are too many Aussie guys in south London with Ned Kelly beards!

  4. More than I saw in trendy parts of Melbourne in my long trip back a few months ago…

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