Instead of posting on an ordinary book with words and distinct literary value, I present another graphic novel (the first one was from week three). This time, this work comes from the realms of Canada and illustrates as well as narrates the life of Louis Riel, a Canadian politician and leader of the Métis people of the Canadian prairies.
The Métis are a group of people of mixed native Indian (or First Nations) and European ancestry. Back in 1869, the Red River Rebellion occurred as a land battle between the then-Canadian government and the Métis of the area. Between all the squabble and the fights, Louis Riel, the Métis leader, emerges and attempts to retain land rights for the Métis people. Throughout the entire story, Brown illustrates the rebellion from its stages of inception to the very end when the people stand in defeat. Richly researched and extensively detailed, the biopic serves as a digestible volume of a critical part of Canadian and First Nations (or Métis or Native American) history. The story of attaining autonomy from greater powers and the struggles the Métis faced relates not only to historical events of years past, but can be extended to challenges minorities face today as they seek to attain autonomy.
Review from amazon.com
Brown’s exploration of the life of a [...] 19th-century Canadian revolutionary Riel is a strong contender for the best graphic novel ever. Over five years in the making, Brown’s work is completely realized here, from the strikingly designed two-color cover to the cream-colored paper and pristinely clear drawings. The story begins in 1869, with the sale of the independent Red River Settlement area of what’s now Canada to the Canadian government. The area is inhabited by the French-speaking Metis, of mixed Indian and white ancestry, who are looked down upon by the Canadians. Riel is bilingual and becomes a de facto leader for the Red River Settlement, demanding the right for them to govern themselves within Canada. Not surprisingly, this request is denied, and the conflict is set in motion that ultimately consumes Riel’s life. Brown doesn’t deviate from a six-panel grid for the entire book, telling his story in a cartoon realism style reminiscent of Little Orphan Annie. And while the book concerns imperialism, empire, nationalism and the chaos that results, Brown maintains a still, almost silent atmosphere. He brilliantly renders a lengthy courtroom sequence by setting figures against a black background, heightening the tension of the events by employing minimal effects. Even the battle scenes are subdued. All of this will hook readers’ minds and eyes, but never tell them what to think or feel. Instead, Brown calmly lets his story unfold, making the reading process deeply affecting. This is an ingenious comic and a major achievement.
Post submitted by Courtney Lee