Devin R Bruce is a friend to Variant Edition and to all good-hearted creatures who roam the Earth. In each installment of This Column Has Seven Days, Devin discusses his favourite pop culture experiences of the past week in an effort to share the joy of an overlooked gem, an old favourite that’s bubbled up to the surface, or a classic work that he’s finally gotten around to. Comic books, movies, television, novels, podcasts, music, Old Time Radio: there’s something for everyone. Here’s what he’s been up to this week.
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I swear, Black Mask Studios is quickly becoming my favourite publisher. The latest of their miniseries that has grabbed me by the brainstem is Beautiful Canvas, a four issue miniseries by artist Sami Kivela and writer Ryan K. Lindsay. When I read the first issue, I thought it was going to be a (fairly) straightforward crime book.And then, with a single turn of the page about two-thirds of the way through the issue, my expectations were suddenly upended. In the most amazing way.
Hitwoman Lon Eisley has just been hired to take out a small child. Lon is clearly a seasoned professional assassin, and she is very good at her job. But when she’s about to carry out the assignment, she falters. Maybe it’s because she’s just learned her girlfriend is pregnant; maybe it’s because she’s starting to have doubts about the person who hired her for the job. Whatever the reason, Lon takes the boy and goes on the run, opening her up for retaliation of the most vicious and brutal kind.
There are so many things that I love about this book. First of all: it looks amazing. It’s a triumph of design, from Kivela’s delicate but powerfully rendered figures, to Triona Farrell’s rich colours, to Ryan Ferrier’s perfectly placed dialogue boxes and balloons. Individual pages are laid out, with panels overlapping each other so as to make time expand or contract whenever the scenes call for it. Lindsay’s dialogue is delightfully over-the-top, creating a heightened urgency to a story that involves enhanced assassins, maniacal world-controlling villains, animal hit squads, and the intersection of love and art for good measure. Plus, each issue ends with a dialogue between Lindsay and Beautiful Canvas‘ editor Dan Hill about some of the artistic inspirations for the book. If there’s one thing that’s going to get me jazzed about your book, it’s the creators waxing rhapsodically about Philip K. Dick and Matt Fraction. That last bit might just be for me. But the rest of the book: it’s stellar. Go get it.
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Honey Heist is a pen-and-paper heist roleplaying game with a concept that is so high that it practically escapes the atmosphere. The players are bears trying to rob Honeycon 2017, and you have two stats: Bear and Criminal. To do bear-related stuff, you roll your Bear stat; to do criminal-related stuff, you roll Criminal. You use dice to randomly determine your descriptor, your species, and your criminal specialty, with an optional hat. (My character was a washed-up grizzly face wearing a crown. It was amazing.)
It’s a two page RPG, one page for the players and one for the GM, and it’s some of the most fun I’ve had playing all year. Creator Grant Howitt has made something truly fantastic and anyone who’s even considered playing an RPG should check it out.
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My final recommendation this week is specifically for people in Edmonton who are reading this the weekend it comes out. This weekend the Make It Show craft fair is at the Edmonton Expo Center, and it’s definitely worth your time and money. I went on Thursday night and got myself some local garlic, soap that smells like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, a short story advent calendar, and local vegan donuts, plus more. It got me really jazzed to see all the talented local creators and their amazing fare, and I honestly can’t think of a better way to spend an hour or two this weekend.
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That’s the end of the line this week, folks. Until next time, keep your eyes on that sweet, delicious prize. I’ll see you in seven days.