Comics Roundup #31: “The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil”

This is one of many books I added to my TBR during my booktube craze. Back then, I’d get excited about whatever book was mentioned by a booktuber, buy it, and promptly throw it on my bookshelf to forget about it. That’s what happened to this one until I finally decided to read it for the NEWTs Magical Readathon.


The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins (illus.)

Genre:

Fantasy

Series:

n/a

Pubbed:

June 2013

Goodreads summary:

On the island of Here, livin’s easy. Conduct is orderly. Lawns are neat. Citizens are clean shaven — and Dave is the most fastidious of them all. Dave is bald, but for a single hair. He loves drawing, his desk job, and the Bangles. But on one fateful day, his life is upended… by an unstoppable (yet pretty impressive) beard.

An off-beat fable worthy of Roald Dahl and Tim Burton, Stephen Collins’ The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil is a darkly funny meditation on life, death, and what it means to be different — and a timeless ode to the art of beard maintenance. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

I learned of this book from Jen Campbell’s YouTube channel, but so much time has passed since I watched that video that I didn’t know what to expect when I finally picked up the book. I was surprised that I liked it.

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil is a fun story about a gigantic beard that upsets the neat orderliness of an island called Here whose inhabitants dislike differences. The protagonist, Dave, had no intention of growing a beard. It just happened, and he became mightily embarrassed by it because not only did it upset the routine of his life and that of the island’s inhabitants, it also brought unwanted attention to him.

Although the story’s tone is light and sometimes humorous, it is a poignant read that touches on people’s fear of the unknown and differences. Before the beard, everyone in Here was neat, orderly, and stuck strictly to routines. There was such a strong sense of sameness that everyone seemed to look and act alike. But the cataclysmic beard event changed all this by forcing people to express and accept their differences. Before the beard, Here’s inhabitants feared the sea that surrounds their island because the sea is mysterious and represents change. But that too the beard changes by arousing people’s curiosity and having them push pass their fear to explore the unknown.

The story is called a fable and, like most fables, it seems simple but delivers a message that resonates. The writing and illustrations are simple, but the prose is often poetic, which made me wonder if I was actually reading a poem. I liked the flow of the words and liked how they are placed among the illustrations, forcing the reader’s eye to travel across the pages, examine the illustrations, turn the page.

It’s a simple story but a fun one with a message that resonates.

Art style:

Here, too, the presentation is simple. The illustrations are pencil drawings with no more details than what’s needed. However, this simplicity goes well with the story’s overall presentation so that the reader pays attention to the story being told without being distracted — unless the author wants to draw to the reader’s attention to a particular thing, which I think he does through word placement.

I like the illustrations. They are all done in variations of grey, which adds a softness to them. I think the only fully black areas are probably the beard and the sea. I also like the variety of panels used, and, as mentioned above, I love that the text is broken up and placed in various places around the illustrations to force the reader’s eye to move across the page and pay attention to the illustrations as well.

The panels are one of my favorite things about the book’s presentation because some panels seem to be an extension of those on the page that precedes it (like the image below of Dave looking out a bus window. The panels on the following page seem to extend from that bus window panel). The beard is my favorite image in the book. I like its seemingly threatening forms and how relentless and indestructible it is.

Overall: ★★★★★

It’s a good read that’s light and humorous but carries a message that will resonate with many today without being preachy.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

I think it’s worth owning.

I bought my copy a couple years ago when I visited Chicago for BookCon because although I would get loads of books at BookCon, I still visited bookstores for… reasons. This reason, which turned out to be a good read.

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Let’s Rewind: August 2019

August was a great month. I relaxed, I enjoyed time with friends, I participated in a fun readathon, I worked my ass off at my jobs, and… I was exhausted by the end of it hence the tardiness of this post.

Let’s Rewind is my version of a monthly wrap up but instead of talking about only books, I include all types of other stuff, like articles… bookish news… commercials… random-ass links… movies… art… podcasts… cartoons… and whatever else happened to me in the month. You know, the usual stuff that people talk about in monthly wrap ups. So read on to see what I did and read this month. You might stumble upon something that interests you.


August got off on a great start in my personal life. A friend, who’s also a bibliophile, and I decided to take a Reading Retreat at a seaside town in Maryland. It was wonderful. (And, as we were planning this trip, we realized that Reading Retreats are becoming more popular. We found various posts on the internet about ideal spots for Reading Retreats.) The plan was to go away for the weekend and read a book or two. But instead, we read only a page or two, lol! 😀

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Friday Face-Off: A Cover with ‘Curse’ in the Title

Friday Face-Off is a weekly meme that compares book covers to decide which is best. It was created by Books by Proxy and is now continued by Lynn’s Book Blog.

This week’s theme:

Unlucky for some

A cover with ‘curse’ in the title

After spending a couple minutes convinced that I don’t know any books with the word “curse” in the title despite the many fantasy and horror novels I know of or have read, I remembered my post for last week’s Top 5 Tuesday where I listed the series I’d love to complete. Lois McMaster Bujold’s World of the Five Gods was one of them.

I read The Curse of Chalion two years ago and loved it so much that I reread it by audio book about a month after completing the physical copy. It’s one of my favorite fantasy books. It’s about a veteran who returns home seeking a peaceful life but is instead thrown into the midst of political intrigue. I’ve since forgotten what drew me to this book, but I ended up liking it because of the writing and the protagonist and how gods and religion functions in the fantasy world. It was a good read.

I decided to go easy on myself for this week’s post and focus on just two covers. These are both covers for U.S. editions of the book. The first one, the one on the left, appears on my audio book but is sometimes the cover for physical editions of the novel, and the second one, on the right, is the cover of the physical edition I own.

FACE OFF!

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Top 5 Tuesday #15: Best Covers of 2019 — so far

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah, the Bionic Book Worm.

This week’s topic:

Top 5 covers of 2019

I am so gleeful about this week’s topic because it’s all about book covers and if there’s one thing about books that I love more than reading them, it’s admiring beautifully designed book covers. So, of all the books I’ve read so far in 2019, here are my top 5 favorite covers.

Fitz and the Fool trilogy by Robin Hobb
cover design by Dominic Forbes | cover illustration by Jackie Morris | calligraphy by Stephen Raw

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End of Summer Recap Book Tag

I saw this tag over on Kristin Kraves and knew I had to do it too. 😀 It was created by Faith at You Are What You Read and, like Faith, I’ll only consider for this the books I read in June to August.

Which book can you not stop thinking about?

The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair

A nonfiction book all about color. It’s one of the best books I’ve read so far this year, and I can’t stop thinking about it because I see color everywhere! 😀 Okay, that’s not the only reason why. There are so many interesting tidbits about colors in it that I mention them at random to people around me or I think back to the book whenever I look at certain colors, especially when shopping.

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Friday Face-Off: Autumn Colors

Friday Face-Off is a weekly meme that compares book covers to decide which is best. It was created by Books by Proxy and is now continued by Lynn’s Book Blog.

This week’s theme:

“Warm September brings the fruit”

A cover that is seasonal for autumn/fall

This week’s theme reminds me of one of my BBC (Beautiful Book Covers) posts, where I selected a few covers that made me think of autumn. I chose from that selection for this post. I chose the book whose U.S. cover contains almost all the colors of autumn — Euphoria by Lily King.

I’ve never read Euphoria, so I have no idea what it’s about. But apparently, it’s inspired by true events and is about a woman who “changed the way we understand the world,” and there are some anthropology bits in it.

Let’s first compare the U.S. and U.K. covers.

FACE OFF!

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“Patsy” by Nicole Dennis-Benn

I read this one back in July for a bookstore’s book club because the author was going to visit for the discussion. I’d heard such great things about Dennis-Benn’s first novel, Here Comes the Sun, which I own but haven’t read, that I was excited to get stuck in this one.

The excitement and anticipation paid off. Not only did I love the story and could strongly relate to certain parts, I also loved Dennis-Benn’s writing and was easily swept up in the story. To top off the experience, I attended the book club discussion and was glad that I completed the novel in time for it because I could then understand the context of the questions asked as well as the responses given. Patsy is one of my best reading experiences of the year.

Genre:

Contemporary literary fiction

Series:

n/a

Pubbed:

June 2019

Quick summary:

Patsy is a young woman living in Jamaica. She is a single mom raising her daughter and caring for her God-fearing mother who refuses to get a job to help support their small family. Patsy works in accounting and is great with numbers, but she barely makes enough to cover the bills, buy food for her home, and send her daughter, Tru, to school.

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