I’ll wager that if you’re reading this review for a book called ‘The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil’, then you probably have a beard. Whether you have one because you’re super cool (like me), a Hipster, Amish, a lumberjack, a pirate, or just an unfortunate woman who must wax her chin every other Wednesday, you know the overwhelming appeal of the mighty chin chum.
Beards can be useful for many things. They can catch any stray food that misses your mouth. They can be used as a makeshift rain hat, for when you’re caught in a torrential downpour. They are also handy for capturing yourself a wife (or husband). Just ask my wife. In fact, my wife loves my ziff so much she even goes out of her way to buy me beard related items. One such item was this very book.
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil is the story of a solitary man named Dave, who lives a boring existence on the Island of Here. Here is a particularly unremarkable place to live, filled with uniformity and order. The idea of growing a beard for any native of Here is simply unheard of, so when Dave wakes up to find a rather stubborn hair has appeared on his chin, he’s quick to remove it – lest it cause scandal and outrage.
But the hair wont stay dead. It comes back. In fact, it comes back in the form of a full grown beard, that continues to grow and grow despite Dave’s very best efforts to thwart it. When he awakes one morning, Dave resembles Rasputin, Russia’s infamous mad monk. When he opens his eyes the next morning, he has enough hair on his face to carpet his house. And so it goes on and on until his beard is pouring out of every window and every door of his house.
Dave’s gigantic beard begins to attract a lot of attention from the people of Here. But instead of turning on Dave, the locals seize the opportunity to experiment with their own facial hair, or hair styles. The uniformity and tidiness of Here quickly descends into chaos, leaving the very panicked local government no alternative but to get rid of Dave once and for all.
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, written and illustrated by the spectacular Stephen Collins, is a modern day fairy tale for those of us that have already hit puberty, but will prove just as entertaining for the future mustachios of the world, as we tuck them into bed at night. Collins’ illustrations are simple black and white pencil drawings, but they scream life from the very first page. The world of Here, that Collins has created, is very much a world filled with shades of grey. As the titular beard begins to reign down its disorder though, the pages become awash with black. Black is often described as ‘an absence of color’, but here, black is anything but an absence of anything. It is an abundance of anarchy that get’s your heart pumping, and your mind wondering, frame by frame. “What will the beard do next? Will it ever stop growing? Should I be worried that my handlebar is looking a bit awry?”.
Never has there been a more entertaining beard in pop culture than that of Mr Twit, in Roald Dahl’s The Twits. But even his infamously grotty bum fluff pales in comparison to Dave’s mighty muttonchops. In fact, in the world of whimsy that is comics and storytelling, has there ever been a greater compliment than being compared to Dahl? To quote the man himself; “Those who don’t believe in magic, will never find it”. Judging by this debut, we’re pretty sure Stephen Collins is a believer.