CM . . . . Volume XX Number 33 . . . . April 25, 2014
Comics make many heavy topics decidedly easier to digest and can simplify complex situations. Adrian Raeside has been using a mixture of humour, razor-sharp wit, and caricature to explore British Columbian politics for years, and The Best of Adrian Raeside brings together some of the best and most scathing glances at BC scandals over the last 35 years. The anthology is broken down into numerous themed sections, including (but not limited to) the environment, premiers, health care, the HST, the Island, and the 2010 Olympics. He pulls no punches when it comes to critiquing the bizarre and often contradictory actions of those in government. Many of the comics are accompanied by commentary of some sort-some get a full paragraph-long treatment, and others get a simple sarcastic statement.
Raeside's targeted comic strips go beyond the government and politicians - "BC has been blessed with a long line of colourful characters in the Office of the Premier. We've had drunks, theme park owners, high school dropouts, trailer park managers and union organizers" - often aiming at British Columbians in general: "We have no clue how to drive in snow-and we're proud of it. We'll happily queue for twenty minutes to get a chai latte but won't spend twenty seconds learning what a Single Transferable Vote is - and we're proud of it." Taking aim at BC drivers in the winter months, gang violence, housing prices, and BC Ferries, this collection covers a lot of troubling yet hilarious ground.
In terms of appeal, The Best of Adrian Raeside will find reasonably wide appeal, though the youth audience may take some convincing. The anthology should find a suitable home in social studies classrooms, and in school libraries, for access by politically-savvy young people. Raeside makes readers think, cry out of sheer political/social frustration, and laugh out loud in delight at the expense of so many of our bumbling provincial leaders.
Rob Bittner recently graduated from the MA in Children's Literature program at The University of British Columbia and is now a PhD student in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC.
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