2012 Ignatz Award Nominee: Outstanding Anthology or Collection
The Man Who Grew His Beard is Belgian cartoonist Olivier Schrauwen's first American book after having staked a reputation over the last decade as one of Europe's most talented storytellers. It collects seven short stories, each a head-spinning display of craft and storytelling that mixes early twentieth-century comics influences like Winsor McCay with a thoroughly contemporary voice that provokes and entertains with subversively surreal humor and subtle criticism of twentieth-century tropes and images. The stories themselves, though each stands alone, are intertwined thematically, offering peeks into the minds of semi-autistic, achingly isolated men and their feverish inner worlds and how they interact and contrast with their real environment. Though Schrauwen taps "surrealist" or "absurdist" impulses in his work, you will not read a more careful and precise collection of stories this year.
The stories included are: "Hair Types," a hilarious piece that on the surface explores the pseudoscientific classification of personality as a function of hair but becomes something more akin to a fable about self-fulfilling prophecy; "Chromo Congo," a silent story about two men on safari who meet a corpulent and obnoxious hunter; as well as "The Task," "The Man Who Grew His Beard," "The Lock," "The Cave," and "The Imaginist."
Though this is Schrauwen's first U.S. edition of comics, he has wowed American fans with his appearances in the anthology MOME over the last few years, and one of his MOME stories was one of three comics selected for the 2009 edition of Dave Eggers's influential Best American Nonrequired Reading.
Download and read an 11-page PDF excerpt (2.6 MB) with the complete story "The Assignment."
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"This collection of stories is a wonderful example of how an animator’s eye, artist’s hand, and storyteller’s vision can combine in a series of stylistic experiments that harken to a previous age of comics, but speak to the contemporary world we live in." — Publishers Weekly
"Incredibly inventive and at times darkly funny, Beard is the work of a master cartoonist worth more attention." — CBR
"This eerie and very funny graphic novel will stay in your memory for a long time." — Renderosity Magazine
"Olivier Schrauwen is extraordinary. ... He's the most original cartoonist Ive fallen onto since Ware or Katchor." — Art Spiegelman
"I don't know much about Olivier Schrauwen, but I know that he's some sort of postmodern comics genius." — The Comics Reporter