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Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography
Synopses & Reviews
Martyr or Madman? The Passionate Rebel History Can't Close The Book On.
Is this the future of comics? Respectably penning the dowdy pages of history? Don't be fooled. This is one of the hippest comics going and will be a controversial must-have in 2003. Legendary cartoonist Chester Brown reveals in the dusty closet of Canadian history there are some skeletons that won't stop rattling. To some Louis Riel was one of the founding fathers of a nation but to others he was a murderer who nearly tore a country apart. A man so charismatic he was elected to government twice while in exile with a prize on his head--but so impassioned his dramatic behavior cast serious doubts on his sanity. Riel took on the army, the government, the Queen, and even the Church in the name of freedom. Will Riel's visionary democracy ever be enough to defend him from the verdict of history?
"Brown's exploration of the life of 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 Métis, 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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A limited-edition reprint of Browns celebrated biography of the Canadian rebel
Louis Riel tells the story of the charismatic, and perhaps mad, nineteenth-century Metis leader whose struggle to win rights for his people led to violent rebellion on the nations western frontier. When the collected book appeared in 2003, Brown won widespread critical and industry acclaim for Louis Riel, including two Harvey Awards and inclusion on countless best-of lists. Beyond that, it single-handedly revitalized the biography genre of comics, paving the way for a new generation of artists.
This special tenth anniversary edition features rare supplementary material, including early cover art from the original serialization, pencil studies and draft scripts, poster and catalogue art, and a new essay by critic Sean Rogers.
"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.
About the Author
Chester Brown is one of the pioneers of the 1980s comix renaissance. He was born in 1960 in Montreal but lives today in Toronto.
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