We must wind back the clock context of how we got to this point. Writer David Calcano has been a long-time fan of the Canadian rock band Rush that formed in the closing years of the 1960s, and it was 1974 when the band line-up became finalized with Lee, Lifeson, and Peart. According to Calcano’s 2015 Kickstarter campaign for his book, Comicspheres: A Retrospective of Rush Toons, by Fantoons, he launched Fantoons in 2012 where he brought his love of rock bands to the world of sequential art. In addition to his crowdfunded book, visitors to his Etsy store will be overwhelmed by all of the humorous Rush merchandise: t-shirts, cereal boxes featuring homages to the various Rush album covers (such as Presto), holiday cards, enamel pins, etc. Rush: Where’s Geddy, Alex, and Neil? Volume 1 is the latest nod to one of the most influential bands in the past forty years.
For this book, Calcano was joined by illustrators Ittai Manero and Juan Olmedillo and colorist Raciel Avila Silva, with additional colors by Manero and Cristian Garcia. The book layout was completed by Felipe Fuenzalida with Beth Scorzato and Corey McCraw providing edits. Together, they were a creative force completing individual worlds representing the first 14 albums released from 1974 – 1987: Rush (1974), Fly by Night (1975), Caress of Steel (1975), 2112 (1976), All The World’s a Stage (1976), A Farewell to Kings (1977), Hemispheres (1978), Permanent Waves (1980), Moving Pictures (1981), Exit..Stage Left (1981), Signals (1982), Grace Under Pressure (1984), Power Windows (1985), and Hold Your Fire (1987).
Calcano starts the reader out with a road map by providing readers with illustrations of each album, as well as offering drawings of the band members for each associated album, so readers know who they are looking for. This is a useful introduction for readers not as familiar with the band. From there, each album is represented by a two-page spread. Each spread is a visual playground of people engaged in a variety of activities, from the mundane task of reading a newspaper to medieval knights taking a stroll through Willowdale.
For those who are familiar with all things Rush, one will pick up song titles, references to members’ childhood haunts, nods to their influences, and Easter eggs that fans will pick up. It is so easy to get swept up looking through all of the details on each spread long after having found each band member. If there is any criticism, it is that the break of the spread at the spine is disruptive, so it might have been nice to re-orient the book to a landscape layout and then lay the spread on one larger-sized page. On a personal level, I became acquainted with Rush via their Presto (1989) album and tour (I saw them at Cal Expo in Sacramento.), so I am anxious to see what Calcano and team do visually with that album in the second volume – I imagine we’ll see lots of bunny rabbits!
Calcano’s tribute to Rush is timely, because Rush’s Lifeson announced in late January that the group’s journey was done; there were no more plans to tour or record. For Rush fans, this book is a must-have, but this is a fun book for readers who may not be familiar with Rush’s music. For those who are not, Calcano mentions in his introduction to check out their Permanent Waves album. As a Rush fun myself, I would suggest Presto, but I would also strongly suggest their 20th and last studio album, Clockwork Angels (2012) – yes, this is the music that spawned the comic book series from BOOM! Studios in 2014. The album is an incredibly epic auditory journey and one of the very best rock operas. I digress: Pick up this book whether you are a Rush fan or not – it will touch your funny bone and provide hours of pleasant diversion!
Creative Team: David Calcano (creator), Ittai Manero (illustrator), Juan Olmedillo (illustrator), Juan Riera (cover artist), Ittai Manero (colorist)
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