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. Shrigley’s existentialism is deeply nihilistic – Ganjei’s 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 EU’s 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 Ganjei’s 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 with Babak.)

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 the book.

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 next door.”

These days, this could apply as much to Babak Ganjei’s 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:

Hilarious Consequences is worth reading simply because it is very, very funny. I give my gratitude to the publishers for enabling me to read something I would not otherwise have thought to. I urge everyone else to do the same.

Amy Britton

Buy a copy here