It’s delicious to imagine that, somewhere out there in this vast land of ours, some diehard, arch-conservative literalist will wander into the unfamiliar surroundings of a bookstore, spot Dave Rosen’s Stephen Harper Colouring & Activity Book and take it at face value. “Hey! What a great stocking-stuffer this’ll make for the kids!”
Imagine the sound of wrapping paper ripping on Christmas morning! Imagine the glee and childish laughter! Imagine the apoplexy when Dad actually gets around to reading the thing! So don’t be fooled, literalists and lazy book skimmers of the world. The Stephen Harper Colouring & Activity Book is, in fact, a brilliant and darkly cynical extended political cartoon, cleverly camouflaged as a kiddy book. “Fair and balanced?” Not on your life. But unlike Fox News, longtime Mirror cartoonist and veteran broadcaster and humourist Rosen never aspires to objectivity.
From the dedication to the memory of Jack Layton on the copyright page, to the cartoon of Harper as a recharging Frankenstein on the title page, to the foreword written by NDP leadership hopeful Brian Topp on page 3, it won’t take the astute reader long to figure out that Stephen Harper is not one of Rosen’s favourite politicians.
This book is an obvious successor to the syndicated cartoonist’s inspired Quebec Neverendum Colouring & Activity Book, published in the aftermath of the 1995 Quebec referendum. In those days, Rosen arguably had a much loonier cast of characters and a vastly more entertaining political landscape to work with, but he hasn’t let than dull his wit or blunt his vitriol.
From colouring pages to mazes to connect-the-dots games to “which one of these things is not like the other” quizzes, Harper and his cabinet colleagues come in for merciless mockery. Harper’s hairstyle is is inspired by a toilet seat cover. His cabinet is a bunch of zombies. His Supreme Court nominee is a masked executioner.
Subtle? No.Funny? As hell.
The Stephen Harper Colouring & Activity Book can be ordered directly from Pop Boom Bang Books: www.stephenharpercolouringbook.com
Mark Shainblum is a Montreal author and the co-creator of Angloman. His website is www.northguard.com/mbs.