As of this moment, it’s been 653 long days since Neil uncharacteristically stepped out from in front of his drum kit, threw his arms around Alex and Geddy, and the triumvirate took one final curtain call. Since then, the amps have been packed away in a warehouse (next to the GeFilter) and the boys have headed off to different points on the map. It has been far too quiet and Rush fans are still wanting. For four decades, we’ve expected an album or a tour with the regularity of the Professor’s metronome-like timing. Where, you might ask, can Rush fans get their fix?
For some time now, one of my favorite check-ins has been at the Fantoons Etsy store. You may remember Fantoons from their awesome Kickstarter project that featured a wide-ranging retrospective done in Rush comics. The book was packed full of colorful, clever, and funny art and illustrations. Next to Hugh Syme’s recent book, Rush Toons is my favorite book on Rush in years. (If you missed it, it’s still available in Fantoon’s Etsy shop.) And, after the very successful Kickstarter, the band managed to get ahold of copies of the book and they loved it! Next thing you know, Fantoons is selling officially licensed merchandise… and what wonderful Rush-themed goodies are there!
Probably my favorite pieces are the limited edition art prints. These are serious first-class, museum quality prints, produced on heavy cotton rag paper and worthy of framing. My current favorite is the reimagining of the Vapor Trails album cover, but I’m also a huge fan of the gorgeous 2112 print, kimonos and all. You may like one of the others, but note that they are all limited editions and will sell out. (I’m still kicking myself for not picking up one of the Geddy Leesa prints that were in the store at the end of last year — this is why I check the store with some regularity.) Another one that’s sure to disappear soon is a print made from the Neil Peart animated short that appeared at the beginning of the Time Stand Still theater presentation on November 3 of last year. Fantoons created that short film.
I love the Fantoons merch because, not only is it incredibly well thought-out, designed, and produced, but also because David Calcano, who runs Fantoons, is a HUGE Rush fan himself. He’s one of us! And because he’s a fan, he gets all the inside jokes, which get incorporated into his products and does a great job capturing the whimsy and unique humor of the band.
For example, Fantoons has created a series of small-sized cereal boxes. With names like “Toasted to the Heart” and “Presto” (made to look like a box of Trix), lots of attention was paid to detail. The ingredients, nutrition info, and the entirety of the boxes have little calls out to Rush trivia. (Among the nutrition in the “Sugar Rush 2112” box are 4 mg of Cholerxsterol, 21% Vitamin Rand, and 12% Mustache.) The ingredient lists on the boxes state that what’s inside, “Contains prog ingredients. Riffs used in this product may contain traces of Yes, The Who, and Jethro Tull.” Calcano tells me that the cereal boxes are a favorite of the band and that Geddy has a full collection on display.
There’s even an officially licensed coloring book. It’s 52 pages of Fantoons Rush art, funny stuff, and lines just waiting to be filled in. Even though it just became available in December, it’s nearly sold out and, once it’s gone, it’s probably gone for good. There are other things too, shirts (check out this one that celebrates Geddy’s love of baseball, now in its third printing) and buttons. There were Christmas cards, but they sold out. However, the Hanukkah cards are still there and (in my opinion) are better than the Christmas cards. I bought a box for a friend last year. He loved them!
So, it’s not news of a tour or promise of a pending album release. But it’s still Rush and it’s seriously good stuff. Plus, one of my favorite things is that when the box shows up at your door, there’s a nice, big Rush logo stamped on the outside. There’s something about seeing those four, stylized letters at your doorstep that gets me grinning and bouncing along like the oompah-intro to Time Machine’s “La Villa Strangiato.”
Get yourself over to the Fantoons store and take a look. If you see something you like, grab it quick, before it disappears forever.
Disclosure: GeekDad was sent some samples of these items for review purposes.