Louis Riel by Chester Brown

Title: Louis Riel

Author: Chester Brown

Context: Louis Riel is Chester Brown’s Comic-Strip biography having the thoroughness of any history book and at the same time reads with a personalized vision of a novel. The comic-book medium has been reinvented by Chester Brown to create this historical biography and critically acclaimed novel. Louis Riel (2004) has won the Harvey Awards for best graphic novel and best writing. The author in a dispassionate, meticulous and compelling retelling presents the nineteenth-century, perhaps insane and charismatic, Metis rebel leader.

Synopsis: With dramatic subtleness, Chester Brown, the Canadian cartoonist documents the violent rebellion which took place on the prairies of Canada led by Riel. Some of the readers might consider him as a treacherous murderer while others may regard him as a martyr who gave up his life in the name of freedom.

The story deals with Louis Riel, a Metis rebel leader and his adversary relationship with the newly established government in Canada. The story starts shortly before the Red River Rebellion in 1869 and ends with the handing of Riel for high treason in 1885.

The possibility of Riel having schizophrenia is explored in the book. As per Riel’s belief, he was named Prophet of the New World by God and was assigned the task of leading the people of Metis to freedom.

The graphic novel is well noted for its minimalistic drawing style, the intentionally flat dialogue and emotional disengagement. By incorporating a conspiracy theory, the author has created a more engaging story. While researching the book, Brown developed keen interest in the issue of property rights as well which led to public political change from anarchism to libertarianism.

Other works by the author:

Comic Book Series

1983-1986 – Yummy Fur (mini-comic) self published

1986-1985 – Yummy Fur – Vortex Comics, Drawn and Quarterly

1995-1998 – Underwater

2004-2006 – Ed the Happy Clown


1989 – Ed the Happy Clown: A Yummy Fur Book

1992 – Ed the Happy Clown: The Definitive Ed Book

1992 – The Playboy

1994 – I Never Liked You

1998 – The Little Man: Short Strips 1980-1995

2002 – I Never Liked You (Second Edition)

2011 – Paying for It

2012 – Ed the Happy Clown: A Graphic Novel

2016 – Mary Wept Over The Feet Of Jesus