6.1 x 8.9
280 Pgs
$17.95 CAD/USD

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 Metis leader. Brown cooly documents with dramatic subtlety the violent rebellion on the Canadian prairie led by Riel, who some regard a martyr who died in the name freedom, while others consider him a treacherous murderer.

Praise for Louis Riel

The brilliance of Chester Brown’s ‘comic strip biography’ of Louis Riel is that it is fascinating and compelling without compromising the basic facts.

Winnipeg Free Press

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.

Village Voice

This is more than 272 pages of stunning Chester Brown drawings portraying one of the most fascinating stories of revolution North American history has to offer.  It’s a groundbreaking piece of art, seriously. This book is as thorough and obsessive as Henry Darger, but without the mental illness. It’s as consistent as Hergé but a lot more honest and heartfelt. It’s perfect, really, and if you have never read a comic novel before, this is definitely the place to start.


Even the most uneventful drawings have a curious kind of power, due to Brown’s ability to express character in a few brief, economical lines. When the panels do get busy, as in the latter stages of the rebellion, the effect is that much more powerful.

Vancouver Sun

This is a story with plenty of dash and a mysterious, charismatic figure at its centre.…With his words and pictures, Brown puts a lie to the idea that Canadian history is boring.

The Uptown Magazine

Complete with exhaustive footnotes and an index, it has the thoroughness of a history book yet reads with the personalized vision of a novel. louis riel coalesces many of the themes Brown had explored in his earlier works: the relative ‘truth’ of nonfiction, the relationship between madness and religious experience, the dubious intentions of authority.


[Louis Riel] has the thoroughness of a history book yet reads with the personalized vision of a novel.

Time Magazine

Louis Riel is an educational, moving, challenging graphic novel that shows a talented cartoonist at the peak of his storytelling

The Oklahoman

After [Pierre Berton’s] the last spike, I read the panels of desolate beauty in Chester Brown’s Louis Riel. For all his pleasurable verbosity, Berton cannot touch what Brown shows with his artwork. While rereading this graphic novel, I thought, “Why is this book not given to every schoolchild in Canada?” I would never ask a student to pick up a Berton (back pain; lawsuits), but has Canadian history ever been portrayed with more lyrical space, beauty, complexity and drama than Brown’s Riel?

The Globe and Mail

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

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 story…is told with compression and masterful pacing. Canada’s history unfolds here with an orderly inevitability, engrossing and—thanks to Brown’s simple line (he credits Harold Gray’s little orphan annie) and his meticulous composition in every panel—enriching.

The Georgia Straight

An impressive work of art that delivers the narrative goods with a cinematic punch.

The Montreal Gazette

Louis Riel stands among the most detached of ‘serious’ comic books. Despite its exacting construction, it confounds a superficial reading of history. It has been rigorously scrubbed of staged drama and crowd-pleasing effects, emptied of sure-fire appeals and cheap thrills.… Like the ‘classics’ of education’s yesteryear, once read it is difficult to forget. It continues to invite appraisal, sustain consideration, and reward contemplation of itself and the larger world.

The Comics Journal

For history buffs, art lovers or anyone with an interest in the life Louis Riel, Chester Brown’s book is a must-have addition to the collection.

The Brandon Sun

[Louis Riel is] 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

...maintains a thoughtful, mature sensibility and a respect for historicity…

The Beaver: Canada's History Magazine...

His epic is a serious work of history, an attempt to boil down the events, accurately and intelligently, which impinged on Louis Riel’s life.… Did Riel really have a forehead that looks like a ski slope? Did Schultz, one of the villains, possess a nose that would give Pinocchio pause? It doesn’t matter, really. Somehow these caricatures fit the personalities beautifully.

Regina Prairie Dog

Despite its extensive annotation and bibliography, louis riel is a refreshingly unacademic look at Canadian history, a subject too often dismissed as dull.

Regina Leader-Post

Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography is yet another landmark work by Chester Brown, an artist considered to be one of the greatest cartoonists living today.…Not overly intellectualized yet dense with detail, the book is a wonderful combination of factual resources and powerful art and storytelling.

Quill and Quire

Brown’s exploration of the life of…19th century Canadian revolutionary Riel is a strong contender for the best graphic novel ever.… This is an ingenious comic and a major achievement.

Publishers Weekly, starred review

Brown tells the story with evenhanded naturalism whether he’s depicting a historical battle or Riel’s divine visions, and the lengthy book is drawn with a grace and solidity new to his work. Don’t skip the endnotes, where Brown humorously critiques his own work.

Philadelphia City Paper

Métis leader Louis Riel has been the subject of biographies, sculptures, museum exhibitions and, more than anything else, strong opinions. But, oddly enough, the most compelling re-telling of the Riel story comes in the form of acclaimed comic artist Chester Brown’s minimalist graphic biography. This book is a gift to Canada, a story told with compassion and reserve that captures the essence of one of the North American West’s great rebels.

Ottawa Citizen

Brown’s writing and artwork have never been better, and louis riel is a must-have for comics lovers.

New City Chicago

Chester Brown’s graphic novel louis riel: a comic-strip biography is an overwhelming, eye-boggling achievement, my favourite book of the year. What you have here is Brown at the height of his abilities as an artist, his handling of line and composition is absolutely beautiful, and he’s made a fascinating and intelligent portrait of one of Canada’s most controversial historical figures. To me, this isn’t just one of the best books of the year, it’s one of the most important graphic novels ever published.

National Post

As a comic which challenges the presumptuousness of its own narrative, delighting in conflicting scholarly references, louis riel is a sophisticated polemic, unabashed and humane.

Montreal Review of Books

[Louis Riel] is extraordinary. Brown makes no bones about whose side he’s on (the dispossessed Métis’), but he leaves the eternal questions about Riel himself—madman or visionary, traitor or patriot—to readers’ judgment.… [T]he words work flawlessly with the muted atmospherics and minimalist settings.


Brown dresse un portrait saisissant, profondément humain et parfois lyrique à souhait d’une figure qui, après son exécution, est entrée dans la légende d’un pays encore divisé à son propos. Pour ce faire, il a eu à démontrer son extraordinaire maîtrise de la narratìon graphique et a eu recours à une ligne claire pure, agréable à contempler.…louis riel est sans contredit un sommet de la BD canadienne, peu importe nos allégeances et nos opinions politiques.

Le Soleil

…généreuse, puissante et inspirée, peut-être même incontournable en matière de bande dessinée et de document historique.…Et on goûtera fort l’élégance du dessin de Brown…[…generous, powerful and inspired, perhaps even essential both as a graphic novel and as a work of history.… And readers will be deeply affected by the elegance of Brown’s drawings.]

Le Devoir

A ripping historical yarn that offers an idiosyncratic take on the still-controversial Métis rebel leader.

Hour Montreal

Brown invokes with a minimalist style the world of early Canada in the making. The speed and ease of the format allowed me to become readily immersed in a mood, a time, a place, and an historical tale. It is an original form of literate storytelling which Brown vividly proves is often underrated for its power and possibility. Every school in the land that worries about literacy and an appreciation of history among its charges should have it on the curriculum as required reading.

Halifax Herald

The hero, martyr and madman that was Louis Riel all get examined in this tale that may be too familiar to high school history students, yet is strangely new and exciting with Brown’s telling.

The Halifax Coast

Brown’s comic-strip biography of the controversial Métis leader is a crisp page-turner.

Fast Forward Calgary

Louis Riel turns out to be a tour de force, a groundbreaking work of graphic storytelling.

Edmonton Journal

Chester Brown’s louis riel has certainly become one of the handful of must-have graphic novels released in the last ten years. More than any of his peers, Brown employs narrative and storytelling strategies that seem to come straight from some unknown place.

Comics Reporter

Chester Brown is a comic-book artist who has turned his inimitable style to a compelling moment in Canadian history. Not a graphic novel so much as a graphic history book, and one that transforms history into legend.

CBC Canada Reads Top 10

Brown’s storytelling and exquisite drawing make louis riel a jam-packed action adventure story that both teens and adults will enjoy.

Canadian Book Review Annual

The compelling, sparsely elegant, heavily researched book, which contains endnotes, a bibliography and an index, creates in Brown’s fluid combining of pictures and words an intensely vivid narrative of a complex hero.

Canadian Art

Louis Riel is gripping reading, filled with drlouis riel is gripping reading, filled with drama and poetry, in which plain words and stunning images carry equal weight in telling the story. It sounds like a cliche, but it’s probably true that louis riel is destined to become a Canadian classic.

Calgary Herald

Comics artists have tackled history before but seldom as artfully and intelligently as Brown does here.

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