Category Archives: David Lester Art

“Radicals Rendered in Pencil”

New illustrations by David Lester! Something he did while taking a little down time from the two graphic novels he’s working on.


Abbie Hoffman (November 30, 1936 – April 12, 1989), American political and social activist, anarchist, and co-founder of the Youth International Party (Yippies).


Frank Little (1878 – August 1, 1917), American labor leader who was murdered in Butte, Montana. He joined the Industrial Workers of the World in 1905, organizing miners, lumberjacks, and oil field workers. He was a member of the union’s Executive Board when he was lynched.


Eugene V. Debs (November 5, 1855 – October 20, 1926), American socialist, political activist, trade unionist, one of the founding members of the Industrial Workers of the World. He ran as the Socialist Party candidate for president in 1920, receiving nearly a million votes.


Martha Gruening (1889–1937), American writer, political agitator and civil rights activist. She wrote and edited The Dawn, a pacifist magazine, and was arrested for “disorderly conduct” after distributing pacifist literature. She served as the assistant secretary to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She moved to France and continued to advocate for the rights of African-American men and women until her death.

Shulamith Firestone (January 7, 1945 – August 28, 2012), Canadian-American radical feminist. A central figure in the early development of radical feminism and second-wave feminism. In 1970, Firestone wrote The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution.


Fred Mooney (January 23, 1888 – February 24, 1952), one of the most radical leaders of the United Mine Workers of America (District 17). He was involved with The Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest armed labor uprising in U.S. history. The conflict occurred in Logan County, West Virginia, as part of the Coal Wars, a series of early-20th-century labor disputes in Appalachia. Up to 100 people were killed.


Ben Fletcher (1890 – 1949), member of the Industrial Workers of the World–Philadelphia longshoremen branch (Local 8). He helped lead Local 8, the largest, most powerful, and longest lasting interracial union of the World War I era. Because of a union work stoppage in 1918, Fletcher was charged with treasonous activities. He was convicted, fined $30,000 and sentenced to ten years in Leavenworth federal penitentiary in Kansas.

Simone Segouin (October 3, 1925 – ), French Resistance fighter, at age 18, served in the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans group. Among her first acts of resistance was stealing a bicycle from a German military administrator, which she then used to help carry messages. She went on to take part in large-scale or otherwise perilous missions, such as capturing German troops, derailing trains, and blowing up bridges.

Robert Minor (1884 – 1952), American political cartoonist whose early work appeared in The Masses and Emma Goldman’s Mother Earth.

Unidentified Italian anti-fascist during World War Two. After the war, about 35,000 Italian women were recognized as partisan combatants.

Ralph Chaplin (1887–1961), American writer, artist and member of the Industrial Workers of the World. He designed the anarcho-syndicalist image, Sabo, the black cat (a symbol of wildcat strikes and radical unionism). Chaplin wrote the words for the union anthem, “Solidarity Forever”. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in South Tacoma.

Mollie Stimer (November 21, 1897 – July 23, 1980), anarchist and activist who fought as a trade unionist, an anti-war activist and a free-speech campaigner. Arrested in 1918 for printing and distributing leaflets denouncing the U.S. military action in Russia, she was convicted under the Sedition Act and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Close friend of Emma Goldman.

Lucy Parsons (1853 – March 7, 1942), American labor organizer, radical socialist and anarcho-communist. She is remembered as a powerful orator. She was married to Albert Parsons, who was executed in 1887 as a Haymarket Martyr. In 1905, she was a co-founder of the Industrial Workers of the World.



Rabble Interview: David Lester

AUDIO: the radical origins of Mecca Normal guitar player David Lester – long time mixer of art and politics, profoundly influenced by the Emma Goldman bio “Living My Life”


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David Lester Art Show at InterUrban Gallery, Vancouver

InterUrban Gallery, 1 East Hastings (entrance on Carrall Street)
Wednesday, October 25th to Saturday, November 3
1:00 – 4:00 PM

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Mecca Normal at David Lester’s exhibit of graphic novel panels (including Emma Goldman, Winnipeg General Strike and The Battle of Ballantyne Pier), MAGNET Magazine cartoons and Inspired Agitator posters at the InterUrban Gallery during the 15th Annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival in Vancouver. Photos by Joelene Clarke.

Hanging the images on Wednesday, October 24 , 2018.


At the opening, Sunday, October 28, 2018.



Winnipeg General Strike (1919)

panel 1

Emma Goldman (work in progress)

Inspired Agitators poster series

Normal History Vol 168 by David Lester sm

Normal History Vol. 168 for Magnet Magazine online

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Winnipeg General Strike 1919

1919 Winnipeg r

David Lester’s drawing for a graphic novel history of the Winnipeg General Strike, 1919.



A Condensed History of Mecca Normal

A brief history of underground rock duo Mecca Normal’s early years in TV news clips and live footage to give background and context to Jeans Smith’s ongoing $100 painting series.

Jean Smith paintings currently available

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David Lester interview on CBC radio

“Comics are a form of social activism,” says graphic novelist David Lester in a GREAT interview with the CBC’s Sheryl MacKay about “The Battle of Ballantyne Pier” — David’s contribution to the anthology Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle.

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All Albums

All Mecca Normal’s albums (except the most recent one) are somewhat-secretly archived, chronologically, song-by-song in Normal History the weekly column David Lester and Jean Smith collaborate on for Magnet Magazine.



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Amplitude Equals One Over Frequency Squared, David Lester interview, 2012

The Listener 2.pmd
Page from The Listener – a graphic novel by David Lester
DAVID LESTER interview
conducted via e-mail
by Dan Cohoon

Dan Cohoon: How did Mecca Normal come about? Talk about what was going on in music/art at the time that inspired you to start a band.

David Lester: I met Jean Smith while we were both doing graphic design in the production department of a weekly newspaper. So in a way, our collaboration started then, nearly 30 years ago. We were both visual artists (Jean is an excellent painter) and we shared an interest in hearing live music, which at the time included a lot of hardcore punk bands. I was also designing album covers and posters for some of these bands, most notably D.O.A. There was a very active, radical political scene in Vancouver at the time, which was reflected in the lyric content of many of the cities punk bands. Jean and I took inspiration from this convergence of music and politics by deciding to start our own band. But it would be a band without drums or bass. We wanted to challenge the very notion of what makes a band, and demonstrate that a single guitar, a voice and ideas could unleash a powerful fury against social injustice.

Continued: Amplitude Equals One Over Frequency Squared


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