Friday, 3 January 2014

The Gigantic Beard that was Evil



The Gigantic Beard that was Evil
The Gigantic Beard that was Evil
Stephen Collins
 
    When I started to read this book I expected it to be a quick jokey read. Entertaining, but dumb. With a title like The Gigantic Beard that was Evil, how could you not.
    I was both intrigued and excited therefore, when the book turned out to be a far more sombre affair. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a decent amount of humour in the book, but it’s a far more meaningful story than you’d expect.

    The book tells the tale of Dave, a resident of the eternally neat and tidy island of Here. A place engrained with a crippling fear of the outside world, the messy uncertainty of There…
    Dave works at a regular office job and spends his nights drawing what he sees from his living room window and listening to “Eternal Flame” by the bangles.
    One day, Dave begins to grow a large, unstoppable beard, that quickly fills his home before bursting free to the outside world, bringing the horrid untidy world of There, to Here.

The Gigantic Beard grows
    First of all, we need to discuss the artwork as it is absolutely stunning. While Collins’ style is bold and simplistic, it still manages to deliver an impressive level of detail with several panels featuring small charming details, easily glanced over during a quick read. The simplistic style also masks an impressive cinematic eye as Collins strays regularly from the standard close ups and midshots, providing a far grander set of angles.
    The whole book is in black and white and it works perfectly, any page you turn to is an impressive piece of art in itself which only serves to make the entire book a delight to hold. It’s beautiful.

    The story itself, despite the humorous plot, is a surprisingly melancholic one. The effect that the beard has on Here asks a lot of interesting questions. The book is a commentary on mankind’s fear of the unknown. A fear which leads the community of Here to continually move inward, changing nothing, refusing to move outside of its comfort zone. Becoming more and more routine, the people more sheep like until one single example of the unknown cripples it entirely.
    It also deals with the manner in which society deals with those that wish to stand out from the crowd. While Dave has the curse of the beard thrust upon him, he is the only person in Here who ever asks any questions, who sees through the cracks in the utopia. When the beard arrives, the government see that it is leeching out, beginning to affect the usual running of things, and basically spend the rest of the book trying to find ways to get rid of this aberration before it can have too much effect.

    The Gigantic Beard that was Evil is a stunning book, both in terms of visuals and story telling. It’s a deep, rich story with a lot to say and a very surprising and enjoyable read. 

Stephen Collins signing copies of the book at Gosh! Comics in London

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