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March 29, 2001 — 1 PM

Wandering down The Main, aka

Wandering down The Main, aka le boulevard St. Laurent, one finds a quaint shop with a red storefront that sells music and books. Good music, though, and good books, by which I mean of course, "stuff that cool† people buy." Music that no one has heard of (but won't admit it) and important books by men like David Foster Wallace that few have read but everyone cites.

But I jest. Aside from that, the store also carries a selection of “serious” and/or unusual comic books. Chris Ware’s “Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth” series is worth a peek if only for the mind-boggling level of detail and the twisted sense of humour. More notable (to me) is a limited series of comics about Louis Riel by Chester Brown.

The idea intrigues me because Riel is a perfect example of a fascinating historical figure who has received the short end of the memory stick (sheesh, nice confused metaphor there, Luke). What I mean is that the story of Riel, a Métis executed for his role in the Red River rebellion during Canada’s early existence, has all the elements of a great drama: the underdog struggle, a conspiracy from above. But thanks to the poor state of history education, almost no one really knows much about him or the events surrounding his death.

What better way to present history in a more exciting light than through a comic book? I’m sure there are a few details the series will miss (although the author includes notes on omissions and corrections), but if people were entertained by history and learned something along the way, wouldn’t that be better than knowing nothing at all?

And besides... comic books in history class!

You can order the Louis Riel series (and others) from the Drawn & Quartlerly site (the publishers). Warning: the page looks like the dog’s breakfast in IE on the Mac, so you might wanna try Netscape.

†‘Cool’ in the perjorative, high school, teenaged sense.


Previously: Apologies for the lack of

Subsequently: This is not where I

March 2001
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