Review: F*ckin’ Eh! Colouring Book
This colouring book was published last year but it, along with other colouring Canadiana, is making the rounds of bookstore tables again, thanks to the upcoming 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation.
In 1867 the British North American colonies (and formerly French colonies) of Canada (soon after divided into Ontario and Quebec), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were jammed together into one big colony, the Dominion of Canada. We then spent the next 150 years coming up with unique Jesus and geography based profanities. Because Quebec was so thoroughly dominated by a powerful branch of the Catholic Church until the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, many of its common insults and profanities are quaintly sacrilegious. Because much of the rest of Canada is so thoroughly wrapped up in its geography-is-destiny self image, many insults from Ontario, the Maritimes, and the prairies are based on snow, animals, snow, animal-based activities, and snow.
F*ckin’ Eh! offers a brief survey of some of the country’s most common, less common, and strangest terms of not-so-endearment, but without any of the cultural and historical context that could make this fairly basic book into something more. While there’s a glossary in the back explaining some of the more obscure terms, like Puck Fuck (are you…fucking a literal puck?), Bogtrotter and Loogan, it’s too scant to be educational and too plain to be funny. A swear word colouring book should be funny, shouldn’t it? Beyond the joke of its existence as a published product, there is the naughtiness of colouring in swear words after a long day at school or work, perhaps with some authority figure sitting right there. But this is more of a throwaway stocking stuffer, a joke between adult-ish friends that gets halfway coloured and forgotten on a shelf. It’s not that the illustrations are bad — they’re pretty cute, actually — but more that the joke goes on too long for a gag. A knock-knock joke isn’t funny after the punchline (if even then) and this book’s punchline is right there on the cover: a Canadian swear word colouring book.
The illustrations themselves are fine: bold fonts combined with cleanly drawn scenes, floral mandalas, and fairly simple, Canadian-themed patterns. Many pages though, are mostly white space, directing your colouring attention solely on the page’s swear word and whatever Boshi has arranged around it. This leaves you with not much to do with the page; a few minutes of quick shading and then you’re on to the next shit, fuck, or damn. This lacklustre approach to design extends to the patterns, many of which are as simple as a series of small and large bubbles (water?) or rectangles (…ice?). A few are more interesting, full on ugly sweater patterns or cross stitch, but none seem to quite match the swear word at hand. Carelessness is evident in every aspect of this book, even its physical design. Although its spine is designed for easy colouring, the pages aren’t designed to be easily torn out — two things that usually go together but somehow don’t here.
F*ckin’ Eh! is… okay. It’ll make a decent stocking stuffer during the holidays and a good-enough cottage companion, but it’s not a colouring book you’ll look forward to filling in and definitely one you can give a miss.