Note: The graphic novels may have mature content; be advised.
See link to article at the end of the post.
. The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, from Jonathan Cape, written and illustrated by Stephen Collins
A book to make you sing with the genius of it, and a conceit that makes spot blacking swathes of heavy pencil across the page really work, and annoyingly Stephen Collins’ first longform work. He has set the bar high – and the beard low. The story of a man with just one hair on his face (and not on his head) lives in a place without such follicle fancy. Until his beard emerges and dominates both his life, but the lives of those around. As a hirsute gentleman myself, I was possibly personally touched by this tale of out of control hair in a world where such a thing is unthinkable. It then grows monumental proportions, pushing him out of house and home and threatening the security of the state with its size and unruliness – and in the lesson it gives to the rest of the country, who also begin to act in an unruly fashion. It’s the end of the world as they know it and the state turns to Dave (it would be Dave) as the source of the uprising. And something must be done. A book of revolution, and a beautiful story told with imagination, grace and a lot of pencil lines. And you feel the hard effort on every page. Those individual hairs don’t draw themselves.
The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story, from Dark Horse Comics, written by Vivek J. Tiwary, with pencils, inks, and colors by Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker, letters by Steve Dutro
This single-volume work was a late-blooming runaway trend-setter of 2013. Those who were in the know had been waiting for it for quite some time, but to new readers it appeared meteorically generating exponentially-growing buzz, first as a New York Times Best-Seller, then as a movie property in short order. But the substance of this graphic novel goes well beyond the hype. The artwork is something unusual and highly memorable, a fusion of experiment and homage that challenges the way we traditionally represent the past in comics. Brian Epstein’s life is presented in not only a warm, bright way to engage readers, but suggests a degree of sensory perception that enables the narrative to jump between points in time without losing that reader-engagement. It’s a highly emotional book without telling you directly that it’s a highly emotional book, and it’s an intellectual book in an even more subtle way by commenting on artistic success and fame through carefully chosen phrases, not through 4th wall-breaking rhetoric. In the end, it’s a volume that forms an expansive, encapsulated narrative for readers that leaves a lasting mark. And it may well spark renewed interest in bringing the history of other art-forms into the well-suited comics medium