You won’t believe this Chester Brown Louis Riel cartoon

Okay maybe you will—what’s really amazing is how great it looks!

Although here in the US, Toronto-based Chester Brown is probably best known for his most recent GN Paying For It, about her experiences with prostitutes. However, in Canada he’s known for Louis Riel, a dramatic biography of a major figure in Canadian history. It’s a compelling, exciting work even if you don’t know about the history of the two Métis revolts he led against the Canadian government. (Think Jefferson Davis with crazy visions.)

Apparently at one point, award winning Canadian animator Nick Cross (The Waif of Persephone, Yellow Cake, Pig Farmer, and Black Sunrise) who works at Cartoon Network as an Art Director, was slated to adapt Louis Riel into animated form. On his blog he writes:

I wrote a treatment and then animated the following as a proof-of-concept for the general look of the film.  I wanted to keep the really distinctive look of Brown’s characters, which were really reminiscent of Harold Gray’s Li’l Orphan Annie and Herge’s Tintin. I chose to break from the look of the novel by not only adding colour but also by expanding the picture frame from the rigid square comic panels, to a Cinemascope format.  I felt this would help to suggest the width of the Canadian landscape and the vast distances from East to West, which is a central theme to the story.

Although the tiny test looks AMAZING, the project fell through, as so many great things do. So add it to the Imaginary Comic Book Movie Film festival in your mind.

Although this has been around a while, it’s Louis Riel’s birthday. Seems like a good day to revisit this project. Hey howabout a Paying for It cartoon….?



  1. Alexander says

    Shocking that a cartoon with a probably audience of six people never made it through the early phases…while Louis Riel is indeed Chester’s best work, let’s be honest and say that the subject matter would never have interested nearly enough people to make this viable as a cartoon.

  2. jacob lyon goddard says

    Also, nobody would care about a cartoon about a girl growing up in Iran 35 years ago.

  3. horatio weisfeld says

    Too bad this didn’t happen — Chester is one of the greats.. Would be really cool to see his hooker thing as an animation .. I would imagine there could me a mass-audience for that. Ditto his Jesus thing from the 80s.

  4. John Grubber says

    This is beautiful. What about kickstarter, or indigogo or something? As a teacher, this would be invaluable for telling the story of a tumultuous period in Canadian History. It is an era, and he is a figure that still polarizes Canada even now, over 100 years after his death.

    Samuel de Champlain, John A. MacDonald and Riel are three giants in our history that all deserve to have their stories told in accessible ways.

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