A brief history of David Lester’s recent graphic novels with an eye for how they form a body of political art.
“The Listener, a Graphic Novel” (Arbeiter Ring, 2011) Set in both present day and during the rise of Hitler, the story pivots around an artist taking a trip to Germany to grapple with ethical and political concerns related to her work. After the book was published, David Lester and Jean Smith (aka the rock duo Mecca Normal) created a classroom event based on the book, which they presented in both Canada and the US.
“The Battle of Ballantyne Pier”(Between the Lines, 2016) included in the compendium “Drawn To Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle” The intensity of the illustrative work energizes the story of a union’s run-in with police on Vancouver’s waterfront in 1935. Created in an astoundingly short amount of time, David’s account is based on his grandfather’s experiences as a longshoreman.
“Lester’s account of the battle is also important because he humanizes the activists involved, and reminds us that people just like us overcame these challenges in the past.” – Dale McCartney, the Tyee, 2016
“1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg Strike“ (Between the Lines, 2019) The speed, content and beauty of “Ballantyne“ lead to an offer for David to illustrate a book written by The Graphic History Collective, who produce alternative histories—people’s histories—in an accessible format to help people understand the historical roots of contemporary social issues. Nominated for the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature in 2020, and co-winner of the 2020 CAWLS Book Prize for the best book on labour history.
In the new 10-minute CBC video by filmmaker Rami Katz, “you’ll see David Lester take you through his intricate process of illustrating this notable protest [Winnipeg General Strike, 1919] and the challenge of depicting historic figures and events with contemporary urgency.” – from a CBC article by Lucius Dechausay
Don Jail cell, 1940 (Ontario) for David Lester’s graphic novel about Emma Goldman.
Emma Goldman (graphic novel in progress) The story of the revolutionary’s final years in Toronto (1869 – 1940).
“Prophet Against Slavery: Benjamin Lay, a Graphic Novel” (Beacon Press, 2021) The story of abolitionist Benjamin Lay, whose life as a radical was important to anti-slavery and activist movements that followed. This is the first of three projects to date with author Marcus Rediker and editor Paul Buhle.
“Under the Banner Of King Death, Pirates of the Atlantic, a Graphic Novel” (Beacon Press, 2023) A tale of the social revolution that erupts when an itinerant community of outsiders is sold into servitude on a merchant ship. The second of three projects to date with author Marcus Rediker and editor Paul Buhle.