So, that was 2013. People came and went, empires rose and crumbled, hearts were broken or mended, and our species grew another inch, it seems. There were a lot of little victories on my end; made new friends and reconnected with old ones, got signed on as a regular contributor to Archenemy Magazine, had two more stories accepted into different anthologies, and even went on a date for the first time in a year! Granted, it went nowhere, and she thinks I’m a dead end of a human being, but who cares? It still happened.
In spite of that, the year had its disappointments, especially for those of us in Canada. Our Prime Minister’s track record is still horrendous, our cultural landscape is falling apart, and then there’s the matter of my good city’s present management. In addition to the blundering escapades of the Captain Planet villain my people voted in, city council seems dedicated to burning down all of our major cultural artefacts and replacing them with high-rises built by psychopathic Lego men and Wal-Marts.
Honestly, though? Even with all that, I can still find things to be proud of. Even though our administration is a mess, at least I can find solace in our mindless entertainment industry, and this year saw some weird and wonderful things emerging out of Toronto. So, since Lists seem to be the in-thing right now, let me go through four things born from my good city that we, and the world, should be proud of.
Toronto’s comic scene has certainly been bustling, what with new studios and content creators scrambling to make themselves heard. Some voices are certainly louder than the rest, but the one you need to hear is the one talking about Brian Evinou and Phil McClorey’s comic anthology Monstrosity. With eighteen well-drawn, ball-busting yarns from Toronto’s finest artists and writers, including Jason Loo, Rodrigo Bravo, Shane Heron, and Ricky Lima, what you end up with is a wild ride through the mountains of madness.
2. ROGUE LEGACY
Probably the most addictive, butt-crushing, but still balls-to-the-wall entertainingly good game I’ve played this year came from Cellar Door Games’ Rogue Legacy, a platformer-adventure Rogue-like RPG. Unlike other Rogue-like games that take fun and punch it in the dick, Rogue Legacy gives you a chance to build an empire from your earnings during each failure, helping you survive the next run through the jungle for a little while longer. Challenging and clever with a neat aesthetic, Rogue Legacy is one of those games that makes you go “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”
3. THE CAPTAIN CANUCK WEBSERIES
Back in 1975, Ron Leishman and Richard Comely created their answer to Captain America in the form of the high-flying, death-defying Captain Canuck. For decades, he’s been a part of the Canadian comic world’s subcultural backdrop, popping in and out of obscurity in the form of new miniseries and re-imaginings. This year saw a new version of the character come into being, as well as a new medium, as Toronto’s own Smiley Guy studios put together an animated web-series, crowd-funded by YOU, and featuring the all-star cast of Kris Holden-Reid, Laura Vandervoort, Paul Amos, and Tatiana Maslany. It’s not done yet, but so far I’m impressed. Where’s episode 4, you bastards?
4. PACIFIC RIM
NO, I WILL NOT STOP PRAISING THIS MOVIE.
This film embodies everything I love. Impossible monsters, incredible set-pieces, daring but flawed heroes, heart-pounding action, a sense of awe and wonder, and a great message about the strength of the human heart. Why is it on this list, though? Because it was filmed in Toronto. Yes, fine, a good chunk of it was filmed in soundstages, but a lot of scenes were actually filmed in the bluffs, or in the downtown. To me, this is incredibly fitting for a film that embraces multiculturalism, and thank god for that.
Looking back on this list, though, I feel like there’s another reason I’m proud of them. See, it’s not just because of the fact that these are all grand fun to me, but because they’re what I think of, or want to think of, when I think about Toronto. Diversity, tenacity, a respect for history, and unity. I feel like we’re losing that part of ourselves, that we’re too focused on letting the bad guys win just because they have more money and better hair than we do.
This isn’t my Toronto. My Toronto is, or should be, a gorgeous and multifaceted thing that I want to be proud of. Our New Year Resolution should be to bring that back, and be the Toronto we loved for just one day.
Let’s make it happen, 2014.
See you on the other side,