When I came across the Renegade Arts Entertainment booth at a recent convention, I was drawn in by the standup of a giant bear. As it turned out, they were promoting When Big Bears Invade, by Alexander Finbow and Nyco Rudolph. Both creators were even in attendance so I got to chat with them a bit.
Giant monsters are a fairly prevalent in modern culture, as are traditional tales of “undiscovered species.” On the modern side, you have Godzilla, Gamera, and a host of others in Japan. King Kong and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man are staples in America. Legends of Chupacabra in Mexico, the Yeti in the Tibetan mountains, the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland are just a few legends known worldwide. One country that seems to lack these distinct legends is Canada. Even the aliens in Independence Day ignored Canada. There are numerous monsters hiding in lakes and rivers, various local legends, and First Nations lore, but nothing that screams “Canada” until now.
When Big Bears Invade is a cautionary tale, written in the prose of a children’s book, framed as a Grandmother telling a story to a group of children. The bears of Canada have had enough of the hubris of mankind, and decide step in. City after city, giant bears take back the land in a variety of wonderful ways. Some of the highlights involve turning Winnipeg in a giant curling match, slap shotting the new Rogers Place arena during a hockey game in Edmonton, and drowning Montréal in Poutine (which is properly pronounced closer to Putin than poo-teen).
Alexander Finbow’s story has a distinct environmental message, taking a few potshots at the oil sands and pipelines instead of specific urban centres, and I felt the wording and cadence of the rhymes to be a little forced at times and just a touch off. The overall story was a lot of fun, though, and I truly did enjoy it. One more page might have been nice to better setup the ending but, again, that’s a pretty minor thing.
What really makes this book shine is Nyco Rudolph’s art. Every page is absolutely gorgeous. I was strongly considering picking up several prints made of the art from this book and its planned sequel. Each page has its own unique flavour, while staying consistent to the story.
If you want something on your coffee table to start a conversation, grab a copy of When Big Bears Invade. I’m giving it a 4 out of 5.