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on August 13, 2014
Louis Riel: written and illustrated by Chester Brown (2003): One of Canada's tragic true tales of nation-building comes to life in Chester Brown's much-acclaimed graphic novel. Brown's art-style is sharp-lined and cartoony here. In the introduction, he notes the judgement of others that there's a lot of Herge's Tintin at work here while explaining that Little Orphan Annie's Harold Gray was the specific inspiration for the work done here. It's still of a piece artistically with Brown's other work while nonetheless being distinctive, and distinctively different from its influences even as one can see them manifest in Brown's style.

This is perhaps the cleanest, loveliest art of Brown's distinguished career. He modestly asserts that he's no competition for either Herge or Gray in the introduction. Well, he is Canadian, and darn, this is fine black-and-white cartooning.

Copious endnotes explain Brown's sources and where Brown changed history in minor ways for the purposes of drama. He didn't have to change much. The saga of reluctant revolutionary Louis Riel, the Metis of what would become Manitoba, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, the greedy and manipulative Hudson's Bay Company, and the building of the Canadian Pacific Railroad supply pretty much all the drama and absurdity, the comedy and the pathos, that one could want out of a historical event.

One of the most fascinating decisions Brown seems to have made in creating this book was to essentially make it an 'All-Ages' project, with little swearing and no nudity or sex. No nudity or sex in a Chester Brown comic? Holy Moley!

I rarely find books to be 'unputdownable,' but this one kept me reading early into the morning before I finally succumbed to sleep. It's a brilliant accomplishment. Regardless of where one comes down on the issue of Riel -- martyr? saint? murderer? madman? -- this book seems almost necessary to any Canadian's bookshelf. It's heart-breaking, and heart-breakingly good.
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on May 9, 2004
For many years I had little interest in the story of Riel. It seemed obscure, irrelevant, and uninteresting.
Reading this excellent comic book changed all this. Brown's book makes Riel's story come alive in a very clear, and easy to understand way. Prior to reading this, all I knew about Riel were some vague facts about him being a Metis leader who staged a rebellion of some sort. I know know him to be the modern founder of the province of Manitoba, a foe of Sir John A. MacDonald, and savvy political leader with democratic ideas ahead of his time.
Brown makes Riel's story fast-paced, interesting, and even contemporarily relevant. Unlike many other Canadian historians, Brown is not a snob to his audience. You don't need to know much about Riel before reading this book, the author goes out of his way to give all relevant information whenever nessisary.
This book is an excellent educational material for anyone interested in this key period of Canadian history. It is a perfect example of the diverse medium of comics, and proves the art from is suitable for a wide variety of story-telling, even the very serious.
I would love to see more comic book history books of this style. I hope Brown writes another someday.
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on August 5, 2013
With Louis Riel: A comic-strip biography, we go back to the founding years of Canada, there is to say the rip-off years. The country has been created on stealing and secret business deals, native massacres and greed made law. In this illustrated novel, Chester Brown makes the prowess of delivering a highly personal yet perfectly factual story of the Louis Riel saga in The yet-to-be-named Manitoba. You cannot miss this one.
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on December 2, 2012
Louis Riel's story is one of the quintessential products of the colonial expansionist logic which forcefully established Canada as we know it today. It is essential to understand his and the Northwest Rebellion's struggle for representation to develop a balanced understanding of Canadian history. Don't Buy it here though, get it somewhere Canadian.
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on February 3, 2014
This book is a great way to learn or teach the history of Louis Riel and the Red River Rebellion. The comic strip format makes it accessible to everyone. Perfect teaching tool for kids.
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on December 4, 2003
We NEED more Canadian stories told this way. What a great way to turn young people on to the stories of our country!
Great stuff!
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