Holding original letter signed by Emma Goldman (Library & Archives Canada).


Mecca Normal‘s LIVE album (Montreal, 1996 with Peter Jefferies on drums) will be released in 2018 by Artoffact Records (part of a CBC Brave New Waves series of releases).


Challenging Stories: Canadian Literature for Social Justice in the Classroom (Canadian Scholars’ Press) features a chapter on teaching David’s The Listener to high school students. The chapter by Karen Jacobson demonstrates innovative ways of how The Listener was used to teach social justice issues to secondary school classes, stating “From the very first page, the book inspired thoughtful discussion about the place of social action in the students’ own lives.” Challenging Stories encourages both educators and their students to develop critical literacy skills and instill cultural sensitivity and social awareness.

Californian writer/director Chrissy Loader’s short film The Listening Party premieres at the Nevada City Film Festival. The film features Mecca Normal’s Throw Silver and I Walk Alone on the soundtrack. The film will be part of the Scary Cow/San Francisco Co-op Film Festival in November at the Castro. Synopsis: In early 1990s suburban California, a young woman tries to connect with her boyfriend, his bandmates, and their aging sound engineer as they smoke a bowl and listen to the group’s latest playbacks.

David Lester completes further research on Emma Goldman at the Tamiment Library (NYU) in New York City.

Drawn To Change: Graphic Histories of Working Class Struggle (with David Lester’s The Battle of Ballantyne Pier) 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! wins the 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.”

Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle is an excellent blend of high level scholarship, Labour History, and captivating art that shows how Public History can embrace different media in innovative ways.” — Public History Prize, Canadian Historical Association, founded in 1922

The first live streaming of a Mecca Normal rehearsal in which they write a new song during the hour long broadcast (3,500 views).

David Lester represents the Graphic History Collective at the “Authors for Indies” event at People’s Co-op Bookstore (Vancouver), talking about Drawn To Change: Graphic Histories of Working Class Struggle and revealing secrets of how to make a graphic novel.

The premier of Jean Smith‘s 16 minute Mecca Normal film is shown on the 50′ screen at PopCon 2017 at the Museum of Popular Culture (Seattle) and introduced by Evelyn McDonnell (Associate Professor of Journalism and New Media at Loyola Marymount University in LA).

Guitar World (New York) interviews Corin Tucker, Sleator-Kinney: What inspired you to first pick up a guitar? CORIN: “…when I went to college and saw other female musicians—bands like Bikini Kill and Mecca Normal—I was like, “Oh I wanna do that!” That’s when I really started trying to learn.”

AUPE (Alberta Union of Public Employees) will be integrating Drawn to Change (including David’s The Battle of Ballantyne Pier) into their province-wide labour education materials.

June 23-24, 2017: David’s Inspired Agitators posters are part of SFU’s SKETCHING IN PRACTICE, a two-day symposium that explores the construction of meanings through sketching. This year’s theme was: How does sketching lead to taking action in the world?


In Amsterdam, Holland, David carries out research on Emma Goldman at The International Institute for Social History (one of the largest archives for labour, left and social history in the world). Goldman left her archives to the institute before moving to Canada in 1939. There are image files in the IISH archive that can only be accessed in person.

David’s literary punk duo Mecca Normal open for The Julie Ruin on their Pacific Northwest tour.

David visits Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa, researching Emma Goldman. He finds a typed letter to a Rabbi in Montreal that has Emma’s actual signature on the bottom. Upon a closer look he could see she’d started to write her name but stopped because the fountain pen was empty. Yes, a small moment in a monumental life, but it reveals the endless details that must be taken care of when fighting for a better world. Details such as the fountain pen needs filling.


“SECRET” RCMP files on Emma Goldman (Library & Archives Canada).

At Library and Archives Canada, David finds police documents marked “SECRET” that show the authorities actively kept surveillance on Emma Goldman even after she suffered a stroke she never recovered from in 1940. The documents are in a very fragile condition yet gloves were not required.

* * *
Research for his graphic novel on anarchist Emma Goldman took him to Toronto where he was able to visit the private house she lived in the last year of her life. An incredible experience to be standing in the very room one of history’s greatest orators


David Lester standing in the room Emma Goldman died (Toronto, Canada).

died. The house has no marker outside to indicate it’s historical importance.
* * *
His 12-page graphic story The Battle of Ballantyne Pier is published in a book called Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle (Between the Lines), an anthology of nine comics, each with a short preface by an academic or specialist on Canadian labour history and working-class struggles. The book was initiated by the Graphic History Collective. “This evocative collection of the struggles and achievements of labour organizing should inspire us to ‘dream of what might be’ and to act to bring it about.” – Noam Chomsky


The Battle of Ballantyne Pier by David Lester


David’s graphic novel THE LISTENER is to be featured in a chapter called “Multimodal Perspectives on Teaching Canadian Literature for Social Justice” in a book to be published by Canadian Scholars Press in 2017. The chapter will be written by Karen Jacobsen of the University of Alberta in Edmonton and is directed at undergraduate students.


David continues his ongoing art/text collaboration with Jean Smith in Magnet Magazine continues, 5 years and counting.


Malachi (18 x 28″) a poster David designed about war protester Malachi Ritscher, was included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. The exhibition also includes a recording of a live set performed by his duo Mecca Normal.


Mecca Normal on Democracy Now (New York)

Kramer-produced Mecca Normal album, Empathy for the Evil was released by M’lady’s Records (Portland, Oregon). The album was reviewed in Pitchfork and makes the annual Village Voice Pazz + Jop Music Poll. The band toured the west coast and eastern U.S. including a performance on Democracy Now and an interview with Amy Goodman.


The Listener was presented by Karen Jacobson at a conference at the University of Alberta (Edmonton) in a session called Promoting Social Justice and Belonging in the Classroom with Canadian Literature. It is all part of The Association For Canadian Studies & The Canadian Ethnic Studies Association 4th Joint Annual Conference: Transforming Citizenship: Ethnicity, Transnationalism & Belonging in Canada.

The Listener is on the shelves of over 200 libraries in the world.


Jean Smith and David Lester presenting The Listener at the University of BC.

The Listener taught in two high schools in Alberta, Including Eastglen High School in Edmonton after it was selected for a research project called “Engaging Teachers with Canadian Literature for Social Justice” funded by The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The other high school introduced The Listener alongside the graphic novels Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Stitches by David Small.


David Lester reads from The Listener at LitQuake Festival in San Francisco as part of the Radar Reading Series at the SF Main Public Library.

Jean Smith and David Lester present The Listener at the University of British Columbia’s Creative Writing class and at Loyola Marymount University, Willamette University and the University of British Columbia.

David awarded a BC Arts Council Grant to write a graphic novel on Emma Goldman.

The Listener was one of five books, including Maus and Persepolis, that were singled out by The Canadian Museum for Human Rights because the books dealt with “human rights issues and struggles past and present.”

The Listener selected as one of “The Best Graphic Novels” at the San Francisco Public Library.


Howard Zinn poster by David Lester

The Listener (along with Maus by Art Spiegelman) is required reading at a course called “Jewish Graphic Novels” at Union College (Schenectady, NY).

The Listener selected as Book Of The Week, Toronto Public Library System.


The Listener ranked #4 on the AK Press list of their Top 10 Best Selling Titles of 2011.

The Listener goes into a second printing.

The Listener selected as one of the best books of the first six months of 2011 by the School Library Journal (NY).

The Listener reviewed in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Library School Journal, Baltimore City Weekly, and The Onion in 2011

The Listener was on Book Managers best sellers list for 3 months. 2011

Artforum Magazine (New York): Mecca Normal’s “Malachi” single on a best of 2011 list.


The Gruesome Acts of Capitalism cover art

The Gruesome Acts of Capitalism made required reading for a course at Capilano University (English: Studies in Contemporary Literature, Vancouver).


David’s Howard Zinn poster was selected as Poster of The Week by the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, in Los Angeles.


Mecca Normal is named one of “10 famous Canadians you’ve never heard of” by the Globe & Mail.


David continues as editor/designer of BC BookWorld, Canada’s largest publication about books.


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