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The Listener Paperback – May 15, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"A dense and fiercely intelligent work that asks important questions about art, history, and the responsibility of the individual, all in a lyrical and stirring tone." -- Publishers Weekly (New York)

"This demands to  be added to any shelf on which Anne Frank's Diary, as well as Maus or Miriam Katin's We Are on Our Own, are available." -- Francisca Goldsmith, School Library Journal (New York)

"Lester mines expressionist graphic manners, especially those of Käthe Kollwitz and 1920s poster artists, to forge a black-and-white style that powerfully realizes his exceptionally literate script." -- Ray Olson, Booklist, American Library Association (Chicago, IL)

Lester’s monochrome panels are lovely, bringing an emotional payload to all that heavy subject matter—quite powerfully in a couple of places. A timeline of Nazi history is included, up to the U.S. Department of Justice’s 2010 admission that America granted protection to Nazi war criminals. It further seals the case that this affecting and thoughtful debut belongs on any grown-up comic bookshelf that also includes, say, Art Spiegelman’s Maus, and Alan Moore and Joyce Brabner’s Iran-Contra history, Brought to Light.— Adrian Mack, in Georgia Straight

Seven years in the making, The Listener is David Lester’s (Mecca Normal) epic graphic novel that blends historical fiction, art, and politics. The result is a dark, black-and-white, forward work that will certainly challenge its reader.— Indie StreetAs for Lester’s art, it sweeps across the pages, changing as if it is alive with his thoughts.— Kristin Bomba, in ComicAttack.net

The Listener is a good book for anyone who would be classified as either a history buff, an art buff, or a basic comic/graphic novel fan (unless they require the inclusion of spandex or rayon).— Bernard C. Cormier, in Times & Transcript

Art Spiegelman has already covered the tragedies and travails of that epic conflict in his deeply personal and poignant graphic novel, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. But, Lester’s take on the story is slightly different. Just as Spiegelman juxtaposes his contemporary life and his father’s struggles during the Holocaust, Lester similarly contrasts the past and present. Only, The Listener seems more like a political treatise than a personal memoir.— Jessica Pena, in Daily Californian

Lester’s drawing is wonderfully expressive and the book is an intense and well-structured look at a forgotten pivotal moment in history that uses the medium of comics to revisit that time and propose an antidote to generalized political malaise and anomie. In this sense the book is a fitting tribute to the work of Lester’s cartooning precursors who fought the good fight in the 1930s, as well as a modern call to arms.— BK Munn, in Sequential

The best thing about The Listener is its art. I’m not exactly sure how writer/artist David Lester achieved its effect, maybe some combination of pen for outlines and brush for the smeary shading? In any case, the pages all look like the rough studies a serious artist might draw when preparing a painting or a sculpture, and that fits perfectly with the framing story, which follows an artist making such drawings.—Joshua Malbin, in joshuamalbin

About the Author

David Lester is a graphic designer, cartoonist, guitarist in the rock duo Mecca Normal; the author of The Gruesome Acts of Capitalism; creator of the "Actually, I like crap" t-shirt; creator of the poster series Inspired Agitators; Art Director of BC BookWorld; Lester also does a weekly illustration, with text by Mecca Normal bandmate Jean Smith, for Magnet Magazine; and together, Jean and David give a presentation/lecture called How Art & Music Can Change the World. Most recently he was the artist/writer of the graphic novel, The Listener (a finalist for a 2011 ForeWord Reviews' graphic novel of the year award).

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More About the Author

David Lester is the guitarist in the literary rock duo Mecca Normal (who recently recorded a new album with Kramer as producer). His latest book "The Listener", a graphic novel (Arbeiter Ring Publishing, distributed by AK Press, 2011) was launched on tour with Mecca Normal in Canada in 2011 and a US tour in 2012 that included an appearance at the LitQuake Festival in San Francisco. David's poster series "Inspired Agitators" is archived at The Center for the Study of Political Graphics in Los Angeles and at The Black Dot Museum of Political Art. Lester does a weekly illustration for Magnet Magazine with text by Mecca Normal bandmate Jean Smith.

The Listener was a finalist for ForeWord Reviews' "2011 Book Of The Year Award" in the graphic novel category. ForeWord Reviews is a U.S.-based magazine primarily for librarians and booksellers and focuses on small and independent publishers.

The Listener is published by Arbeiter Ring Publishing (Winnipeg, MB), a press co-founded by John K. Samson of the band The Weakerthans.

David Lester lives in Vancouver, Canada.

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