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The Man Who Grew His Beard
Synopses & Reviews
The Man Who Grew His Beard is Belgian cartoonist Olivier Schrauwen's first American book, having staked a reputation over the last decade as one of Europe's most talented storytellers. It collects seven short stories, each a headspinning 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' influential Best American Nonrequired Reading.
"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. In this sequence of graphic tales, Schrauwen looks closely at the relationship between our external and internal realities, and shows us how human imagination is only limited by the constraints that our own failings and frailties place upon it. In stories like 'Outside/Inside' and 'The Imaginist,' this theme is developed with wonderful poignancy and delightful cynicism. What's impressive is the ease with which Schrauwen moves among various styles, affording him an extraordinarily wide range of visual tools (e.g., exaggeration and caricature, emotive color schemes, line and shading techniques) that reveal the outer and inner lives of his characters, while his storytelling gives us as much information about his characters from how they don't react in a given situation as from how they do. Sometimes looking like a throwback to vintage comics and sometimes like a clever homage to the Kama Sutra, this collection is,at all times, the work of a master storyteller." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The first U.S. collection from a budding international superstar.
The first U.S. collection from a buddinginternational superstar.
About the Author
Olivier Schrauwen was born in Belgium in 1977 and studied animation at the Academy of Art in Gent, and comics at the Saint Luc in Brussels. He currently lives in Berlin.
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Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » Alternative