………..Trivial hirsute this book isn’t! In fact its more a book about the Hirsute of Happiness! Anyway enough bad puns on “pursuit” because (a) they are bad and (b) I cant think of anymore!
Into a world of order, neatness, cleanliness and apparent perfection comes the potential root of all evil………..a rogue hair on the face of the unlikeliest of anarchists. This is Dave!
It’s the story of a man who lives on the well kept, manicured, and very ordered island of Here. This is an OCD paradise – the streets are in perfect rows, the houses are perfectly spaced, the gardens are perfectly kept and every person on Here is perfectly presented. And Dave fits in, dividing his time between sketching what he sees from his window, listening to the Bangles Eternal Flame on repeat, worrying about the menace from the unknown and evil world of There, and his job, where he produces stats and graphical presentations about….well……stats and graphs. Everything is as it should be until one day, one rogue hair on Dave’s face starts to grow and becomes unstoppable. It turns Dave’s world, and turns Here upside down – in fact it’s so sinister some people begin to suspect that this is in fact part of a darker plot to turn Here into There!
I loved the way the story unfolds, and the illustrations are simply fantastic. Their grainy feel, and their stark, black and white simplicity are wonderfully used to capture not only the look of Dave, Dave’s world and of course that beard, but also the mood of Here and how that mood changes!
My daughter likes reading kids books of this kind and I think she could easily read ‘Gigantic Beard’ on its own terms because it’s just very funny and fun to read. But behind that it’s a book that, albeit gently, has much to make you think. It draws out the hypocrisy that can sometimes lie in our lack of attitudes towards difference – be it different people, different cultures, different ideas or beliefs. It felt quite apt to read this at a time when some of our British politicians are apeing that idiot Nigel Farage and demonising some of those who choose to migrate to the UK. It’s a book that certainly shows up the risk of ignorance in groups of people and how that can be fed and fuelled by rumour and speculation. And of course where there is ignorance to exploit, The Daily Mail is never far away in the UK, and its equivalent shows up in Here as a Dr-cum-wanna-be-TV star who looks to exploit Dave’s facial hair in the twisted, perverse way that only the media can!
But the satirical messages never outweigh the story and the great illustrations. For all the issues it tackles, it is also very much a book about a gigantic beard!!!!!! And I know a little about the evil of the beard having taken part in Movember this year ( this is a charity event where men are sponsored to become hirsute on the top lip for whole of November!). My family wouldn’t let me grow just a moustache as I look like a 1970’s Porn Movie actor in one of those!!! They compromised with allowing me to grow a beard. So I did, for the first time in 30 years. And it was white. Not grey. White! I looked like a man auditioning for a role as a department store Father Christmas! It was an evil thing and came off Nov 30th on the dot when the charity month ended! So reading the Gigantic Beard was sort of cathartic for me – therapy in a graphic novel – books really are full of surprises!!!!
Overall, I thought The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil was a great read. This was my first foray into the world of the graphic novel – and I really enjoyed it, so it won’t be my last!