HILARIOUS CONSEQUENCES BY BABAK GENAJEI
When I was asked to review a graphic novel, I had my reservations
over whether I could. This is not a prejudice against the form; it
is simply a format which I am generally unfamiliar with. My first
consolation was that if I can review art and literature, then surely
I was capable of reviewing something which combined the two. The second
was when my copy of Hilarious Consequences arrived, and
I read and completely adored it.
Flicking through it, the line drawings and intelligent humour initially
reminded me of the wonderful David Shrigley. But this is merely upon
first glance whereas Shrigley is oblique, Ganjei is realistic.
Shrigleys existentialism is deeply nihilistic Ganjeis
is relating to the personal self. Rather than being a novel per se,
Ganjei places himself in a series of situations which many of us can
identify with. It opens with his trip to a Chinese herbalist, currently
topical considering the EUs attempts to ban such establishments.
The situation is played out realistically and humorously, as Ganjei
questions the absurdity of being involved with such a situation near
a Sainsburys in Dalston. I cannot deny I saw elements of myself in
Ganjeis self-parody for example, when all else fails,
he just thinks about girls.
(This even extended beyond Babak and into other characters
for instance, his son has a dinosaur fixation, as did I as a child.
This is a common fixation for children and many parents will recognise
their own children in this, thus adding an extra dimension to identification
This is part of the books wider appeal Ganjei has turned himself
into such an everyman figure that everyone will see something of themselves
in him, even me, a twenty-four year old girl in Nottinghamshire. This
kind of exaggerated version of the self twinned with sharp observance
owes more to vintage comedy like Hancock than the modern graphic novel.
In spite of this, the themes Ganjei tackles are most certainly modern.
Cool is a pervading influence on the piece of writing.
Based in Dalston, Ganjei questions cool consistently to the point
of ending up with something anti-cool. This style is something which
usually feels contrived (more so than adhering to traditional cool)
but here it is hugely effective and adds to the everyman appeal of
Hilarious Consequences is already generating quite a buzz, with every
review I have read of it being favourable. Reviewers blogspots have
been particularly enthusiastic. As a wide range of people write for
these, this simply reinforces my point also it seems very fitting
that such a modern medium would be so enthusiastic about such a modern
piece of writing.
Andrew Swarbrick once made a very famous quote about Philip Larkin,
saying that he could be the man next door
he is the man
These days, this could apply as much to Babak Ganjeis version
of himself as it could to Larkin. But as much as I could talk about
us having a new, twenty-first century everyman figure, as much as I
could talk about the self, existentialism, modern society, postmodernism,
I am better off simply saying this: