The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, by Stephen Collins

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The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil is a graphic novel that I probably wouldn’t have picked up without the recommendation of my boyfriend, who read it first. He finished it in a couple of hours and encouraged me to do the same. As the title probably tells you, The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil is a book that sets out to be different. It achieves that difference in that it stand out in subject matter, but it is also startlingly familiar.

Dave lives Here, where everything is perfect. People are well groomed, homes are immaculate, pets have not a hair out of place. In fact, everyone’s hair is perfect, and no one has any facial hair at all. Dave is a pretty normal guy; he goes to work everyday, and enjoys drawing and listening to The Bangles in his free time. (His favorite it the ‘Pitch Perfect’ hit ‘Eternal Flame’). The people of Here, though, have one common fear: There. There represents chaos, imperfection, where everything is unpredictable and constantly out of place. They are able to push this fear out of their minds, but just barely. It is always lurking beneath the surface. One day, Dave arrives at work, where he analyzes date and charts, to find the data completely skewed. They are mere dots all over a page, but they don’t make any sense. As he stands to deliver the meaning of this, a giant beard begins growing on his face.

The beard continues growing, to the confusion of Dave, scientists, the government, and psychologists. Eventually, Dave’s beard is tied to hot air balloons, and Dave is carried away. His beard had interrupted the entire town. Roads had to be closed off, hairdressers were on constant beard duty. If Dave shaved or attempted to trim it, it was bag with a vengeance a minute later.

After I closed the book, my immediate reaction was “THAT’S IT?” It was difficult not to see the book as being entirely pointless. However, once I really thought about it, the more I realized that maybe there was a point to it after all. The town’s reaction to the beard, to something completely outside their realm of normal, was definitely reflective of the judgement that is often passed in our own society. Imperfection and chaos is to be feared, and when someone steps outside of what we find comfortable, they are the object of attention they often don’t want. This is the case for Dave, who pays the ultimate price. However, the town soon comes to embrace the chaotic precedent he set, so you can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t all for nothing, in Dave’s case. Although that of course begs the question: would the town have realized their desire for chaos without what happened to Dave?

This was definitely a different read for me, and one that I didn’t understand at first, but it is definitely worth stepping out of your comfort zone for. The illustrations of people on the train and walking to/from work with their noses buried in their phones really put life into perspective, and definitely made me want to look up and take in what’s around me more often!

What’s the last book you read out of your typical genre of books?

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