Louis Riel: A Comic Strip Biography

Louis Riel: A Comic Strip Biography

Course Codes:  RELI 4850 B-X
Professor:  Prof. Johannes Wolfart
Semester:  Winter-2017
Drawn & Quarterly Pubns | March 28, 1999 | 272 pages

“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. Chester Brown was born in 1960 in Montreal. At the age of twelve he published his first comic strip in The St. Lawrence Sun. The Playboy, his first graphic novel, was published by Drawn & Quarterly in 1991; his other books include The Little Man and I Never Liked You, an autobiographical work about his adolescence. Louis Riel presents a hybrid of two distinct—but in no way opposed—forms of storytelling: historical biography and the graphic novel. Riel, one of the most controversial figures in Canadian history, was born in the Red River Settlement (now Manitoba) and educated for the priesthood in Montreal, though he would never graduate and an attempt at law would find a similar fate. He was elected to the House of Commons to represent the grievances of the Métis to the Canadian government, but was later expelled and declared an outlaw and exiled to Montana. Riel regarded himself as a divinely chosen leader and returned home to lead the Métis people in two resistance movements against the Canadian government. The Red River Rebellion of 1869-70 was the first, followed by the North-West Rebellion in 1885—where he was quickly captured, tried for treason, and hanged. Renowned cartoonist Chester Brown here provides the full story of this charismatic, and perhaps mad, nineteenth-century Métis leader in "an impressive work of art that delivers the narrative goods with a cinematic punch" (The Montreal Gazette). "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."—Time "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."—Time "Brown has invented a biographical form unique to his medium. Louis Riel has too vivid a personal spin to pass as documentary, but it's not quite historical fiction, either—Brown's not interested in making things up."—The Village Voice Literary Supplement "Louis Riel is gripping reading, filled with drama and poetry, in which plain words and stunning images carry equal weight in telling the story . . . Louis Riel is destined to become a Canadian classic."—The Calgary Herald "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 "Brown 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 Métise 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 graphic novels and to educate youth who would otherwise not dream of picking up a history text."—Library Journal "This is an ingenious comic and a major achievement."—Publishers Weekly, (starred review)

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ISBN: 9781894937894
$17.95

		

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