David Lester is writer/illustrator of The Listener (Arbeiter Ring, 2011), a graphic novel that reveals one of the world’s most tragic acts of spin doctoring while weaving a compelling tale of complacency, art, power, and murder. It is a startling little-known story that changed the course of history. In The Listener, two stories collide: the rise of Hitler and a woman artist searching for meaning in the art of Europe. The book quickly went into a second printing.
The Listener was a finalist for a 2012 ForeWord Reviews’ Book Of The Year Award (graphic novel category). The Listener was reviewed in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Library School Journal, Baltimore City Paper and many others. David Lester also read from The Listener at the 2012 LitQuake Literary Festival in San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a $5,000 grant from the BC Arts Council to write a graphic novel on Emma Goldman.
The Listener has been taught in classrooms at both high school and university level. A forthcoming academic book will present how to teach The Listener in courses on social justice.
In 2017, the comics anthology Drawn To Change: Graphic Histories of Working Class Struggle (with The Battle of Ballantyne Pier written and illustrated by David Lester) wins the $10,000 Wilson Prize for the best book that “succeeds in making Canadian historical scholarship accessible to a wide and transnational audience”. It is sponsored by the Wilson Institute for Canadian History at McMaster University.
Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle! also wins the 2017 Canadian Historical Association’s Public History Prize: The award “recognizes work that achieves high standards of original research, scholarship, and presentation; brings an innovative public history contribution to its audience; and serves as a model for future work, advancing the field of public history in Canada.”
AUPE (Alberta Union of Public Employees) announced in 2017 that they will be integrating Drawn to Change (including The Battle of Ballantyne Pier) into their province-wide labour education materials.
David Lester is the guitar player in the underground rock duo Mecca Normal with Jean Smith (13 albums, released on K Records, Matador, Kill Rock Stars and M’lady’s). As Mecca Normal, they have presented The Listener in university classrooms, libraries and bookstores.
Mecca Normal has received wide acclaim from fanzines to Rolling Stone, SPIN, Billboard, Der Speigel, New York Times, Globe & Mail, Mojo and the Washington Post. Mecca Normal has performed and been interviewed on Democracy Now by Amy Goodman in New York. He is a painter and graphic designer whose artwork is featured weekly in Magnet Magazine online with text by Mecca Normal singer Jean Smith.
“David Lester is an illusionist on guitar, melodies and guitar lines reveal themselves unexpectedly; they flutter about and then recede. His body seems as much a source for the music as the instrument itself, moving and swaying.” — Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney), Monitor Mix, NPR
Lester’s poster of Howard Zinn was selected as Poster of The Week by the Center for the Study of Political Graphics in Los Angeles. His poster “Malachi” was part of the 2014 Whitney Biennial in New York at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Lester is also author/artist of The Gruesome Acts of Capitalism (Arbeiter Ring, 2006), an illustrated book of statistics that are, on their own, disconnected facts and figures. He makes abstract associations and calculations to give readers an emotional impression of poverty and capitalist greed. The Gruesome Acts of Capitalism was required reading for a course at Capilano University (English: Studies in Contemporary Literature). Author royalties have raised over $2,400 for the Canadian Centre for the Victims of Torture in Toronto.
He is also editor/designer of BC BookWorld and lives in Vancouver, Canada.
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Reviews of The Listener graphic novel: