Louis Riel Graphic Novel
Creator: Chester Brown
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
Review by Josh Rose
Canadian History has often been deemed boring, particularly by Canadian high school students. What they don’t realize is that a lot of Canadian history has been censored or skimmed over, particularly in regards to indigenous peoples. The Louis Riel Graphic Novel tells the story of the charismatic Metis leader and the Red River Rebellion.
Chester Brown has a way of portraying the characters in this biography that at first glance appear quite neutral. He doesn’t explicitly say that Louis Riel is for certain the newest prophet of God, nor that he’s absolutely insane. However, you can tell that Brown is not the biggest fan of Sir John A. MacDonald. His dialogue is very antagonistic, and selfish. I cannot guess at how historically accurate Brown’s characterizations of Riel and MacDonald are.
Brown’s art is reminiscent of Hergé of The Adventures of Tintin. However, Brown attributes his stylistic influence to the creator of Little Orphan Annie, Howard Gray. Regardless of his style, I find the hands to be drawn to gigantic proportions, likely to emphasize the focus on what they are doing. Characters who are portrayed as the antagonists in this book, like Sir John A. MacDonald, are caricatured with enormous noses or exaggerated jaws. By drawing these historic figures in this way Brown mocks them, and the reader is more likely to sympathize with Riel’s cause.
The Verdict: Buy It!
Louis Riel Graphic Novel is a book that deals not only with the history of a marginalized people in Canada but mental health and racism in the late 1800’s. Brown presents the plight of the Metis people in a way that tells the story with as little bias as possible, and without seeming like a reciting of historical events.
Louis Riel Graphic Novel is available to order on Amazon.