Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography

Overview


"It has the thoroughness of a history book yet reads with the personalized vision of a novel." -Time

Chester Brown reinvents the comic-book medium to create the critically acclaimed historical biography Louis Riel, winning the Harvey Awards for best writing and best graphic novel for his compelling, meticulous, and dispassionate retelling of the charismatic, and perhaps insane, nineteenth-century Métis leader. Brown coolly documents with ...

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Overview


"It has the thoroughness of a history book yet reads with the personalized vision of a novel." -Time

Chester Brown reinvents the comic-book medium to create the critically acclaimed historical biography Louis Riel, winning the Harvey Awards for best writing and best graphic novel for his compelling, meticulous, and dispassionate retelling of the charismatic, and perhaps insane, nineteenth-century Métis leader. Brown coolly documents with dramatic subtlety the violent rebellion on the Canadian prairie led by Riel, who some regard a martyr who died in the name of freedom, while others consider him a treacherous murderer.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"If you love to read a gripping story, if you are awed by the talent of an artist, then look no further: Chester Brown's Louis Riel is comix history in the making, and with it, history never looked so good." --The Globe and Mail Book Review

"The starkly told story . . . of a crucial figure in Canada's history--yet one whom most Americans have probably never heard of. It's a credit to Brown's plainspoken artistry and flair for narrative that it's a page-turner till the end." --The Boston Phoenix

"This is an ingenious comic and a major achievement." --Publishers Weekly, starred review
Time Magazine
Louis Riel ties together all the ideas Chester Brown has explored before in disparate ways: the capriciousness and injustice of authority, the relationship between religious fervor and madness and the relative "truth" of nonfiction. Louis Riel, as told by Chester Brown becomes a deeply personal, utterly compelling page-turner in the guise of a 19th-century history book. — Andrew D. Arnold
Publishers Weekly
Brown's exploration of the life of a fictional 19th-century Canadian revolutionary Riel is a strong contender for the best graphic novel ever. Over five years in the making, Brown's work is completely realized here, from the strikingly designed two-color cover to the cream-colored paper and pristinely clear drawings. The story begins in 1869, with the sale of the independent Red River Settlement area of what's now Canada to the Canadian government. The area is inhabited by the French-speaking Metise of mixed Indian and white ancestry, who are looked down upon by the Canadians. Riel is bilingual and becomes a de facto leader for the Red River Settlement, demanding the right for them to govern themselves within Canada. Not surprisingly, this request is denied, and the conflict is set in motion that ultimately consumes Riel's life. Brown doesn't deviate from a six-panel grid for the entire book, telling his story in a cartoon realism style reminiscent of Little Orphan Annie. And while the book concerns imperialism, empire, nationalism and the chaos that results, Brown maintains a still, almost silent atmosphere. He brilliantly renders a lengthy courtroom sequence by setting figures against a black background, heightening the tension of the events by employing minimal effects. Even the battle scenes are subdued. All of this will hook readers' minds and eyes, but never tell them what to think or feel. Instead, Brown calmly lets his story unfold, making the reading process deeply affecting. This is an ingenious comic and a major achievement. (Nov. 2003) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Brown (The Little Man; Ed the Happy Clown ) has taken a brave step into what one hopes will be a popular new genre: historical biographical graphic novels. He successfully walks the thin line between cynicism and romanticism in this presentation of Riel's attempt to protect the people of the Northwest from expansionist Canada's unfair rule. Riel was the leader of the M tis people (mixed-blood French, English, and Cree) of what is now Manitoba, who fought to protect their land from 1869 to 1885, when Riel was hanged for treason. Brown packs in dates and events and gives voice to every side of every issue while milking the story for maximum drama and interest-readers won't be able to turn the pages fast enough. Brown dedicates full pages of panels to the realization of a character's thought or the full expression of an emotion. This is the work of a confident artist, sure to gain the respect of those readers as yet unfamiliar with GNs and to educate youth who would otherwise not dream of picking up a history text. Recommended for all public libraries.-Khadijah Caturani, "Library Journal" Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781894937894
  • Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
  • Publication date: 8/22/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 975,210
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.88 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author


CHESTER BROWN is the author of I Never Liked You, The Little Man, The Playboy, and Yummy Fur. He lives in Toronto; he is an illustrator for The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker.
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