Culture & Conversation

The Whole Shebang

Have you ever looked at a piece of art and thought, “Did the artist even enjoy making this?” If so, you’ve been collateral damage to one of the worst criminal offenses against western culture: soulless art. For those who take joy and pride and play and exploration in their art, it’s just demoralizing and devaluing. So guys, cut it out.

On the other hand, when an artist loves what they do, you feel it. It brings an inherent sense of right into the world. You don’t have to like it, but it’s still beautiful to behold. A connection between your heart and the artist’s has been unlocked, and that line defeats time and space, delivering a shared emotional experience and brief departure from the loneliness of existence. Celebrate it! Tell your friends! Maybe even write a review!

I imagine Britt Wilson sits at her drafting table with the biggest grin on her face while she’s drawing. I can’t imagine someone who so clearly loves what she’s doing could produce work any other way. Her face muscles must be really tired at the end of the day.

While reading her first book, a collection of short stories entitled Britt Wilson’s Greatest Book on Earth, I defy you not to grin from start to finish. Wilson’s expressive, engaging style and quick, hilarious storylines had me charmed from the get-go. When I wasn’t smiling curiously, I was outright laughing at her unique voice and character. She’s a sharply talented artist and uses her powers only for good: to make you giggle and spit food all over your brand new book.

That said, I do advise you not to eat on the first read-through. To give you a sense of what you’re in for: poop, haggis, wet babies, dinosaur brains, used condoms…you get the idea. (Isn’t it exciting?)

To start you off easy, there’s a wordless story of two strangers making sexy shenanigans at a bus stop, followed by your first introduction to recursive character Pig Boy, and some historical tales about Vikings killing each other in various creative ways. If you like buddy-cop stories, the tales that involve Vicki and Aviv are more buddy-criminal stories, especially concerning running over strangers whilst biking on the sidewalk, or destroying a pack of hapless dinosaurs in an underground cave (all in very badass fashion, to be sure). It even has a few happy endings!

The book itself is a shining example of the paper objects that we cannot, will not give up in these digital times. Wilson’s exemplary lettering styles take every word a layer or two deeper in expression than vector-based fonts. I can think of maybe two other people whose hand lettering is so meticulous and smooth. In between stories, there are related end pages – a page that separates the stories with a repeating pattern of images that relate to the stories it separates. Also included is a sketchbook section, a page showing her studio, and a small collage of her cat, all followed by handwritten acknowledgements. It really is a whole package, folks.

So file this one in multiple categories: humour, up-and-coming, face-melting talent, obvious dedication to the art form, and heart. No crimes against culture here, no sir. Some crimes against dinosaurs, yes, but they’re all dead, so who cares?

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