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.
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’.
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.