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Saturday, 24 September 2011

TBC: Hands Of Cement

Last night was a particularly fun time with my brother who officially turned 30 a couple of days ago. Being that he's a Los Angeles Kings fan, it's hard to find him good gifts with Los Angeles Kings' logos and branding here in Canada, and the return of the Jets has pretty much gripped every single retailer's economic plan. However, a good time was had by all, and he's happy. That leads me to today where I found myself very happy as I spent the day reading comics. Not comic books, although these comics did come in the form of a book. TBC is proud to present Hands of Cement, written and illustrated by Sandy Debreuil, and published by Frolic Media. There's nothing like a good weekend of hockey funnies to bring out the smile in this fan.

Sandy Debreuil is one half of the brother tandem that founded Debreuil Digital Works. From their website, "Debreuil Digital Works is a Canadian new media company specializing in online game creation, Flash-based animation and software tool development. Debreuil Digital Works is partnership between the corporations of brothers Sandy and Robin Debreuil, who have been working together in the Digital Media field for over fifteen years." Their clients include Fox Sports, MTV Television, the National Microbiology Lab of Canada, and the National Post to name a few. Sandy is responsible for character design and development at Debreuil Digital Works.

I was honestly entertained with the story of Crowbar Benson, a player who "got his nickname in the rinks of Northern Manitoba, where he played hockey in his youth, until he got one to many pucks in the head". Crowbar looks after his two sons, Eddie and Benny, and regularly finds himself in some sort of mischief with his two friends, Sammy and Jerry. The five characters all love the game of hockey, but Crowbar's adventures show that he's a lot more than some beer league rink rat.

There are lots of non-hockey comics in Hands of Cement, but Mr. Debreuil does a great job at sprinkling in some very funny hockey-related comics. Whether it be about Crowbar dreaming of being drafted by the Canadiens and winning the Stanley Cup or taking the Stanley Cup hostage, Crowbar just finds himself in funny situations. The best part of Mr. Debreuil's works, though, are how relevant they are to hockey fans. For example, this was the comic published on the Crowbar Benson website on June 28, 2011 (click it to make it bigger):
Honestly, that's what it was like when the announcement was made that the Jets were coming back... minus the nudity. Although there may have been some further away from where I was situated.

The thing I liked best about Hands of Cement was the references to Manitoba in the comics. Mr. Debreuil makes a few jokes about Manitoba Public Insurance, the difficulty finding downhill skiing in Manitoba, and mosquitoes - things to which all Manitobans, like myself, can relate. I found the humour in these references, and I chuckled at some of the stuff about which Manitobans are known to complain.

Overall, Hands of Cement is a fabulous collection of funnies about hockey, life, parenting, and drinking. While the comics themselves don't have any PG-rated language, the subject matter certainly wades into the PG territory often, so I'd recommend Hands of Cement for any hockey fans in their teens and up. The comics aren't overly detailed and all are in black-and-white, but it doesn't detract from the comedy shown by Mr. Debreuil. The 126 pages are an easy read, and one should be able to get through it in a couple of hours at most if one doesn't laugh too hard at some of the strips. Because of the humour and hockey references, Hands of Cement definitely deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval! Highly recommended reading for a Saturday morning!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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