The Listener — a History in Gray

Listener by David Lester

Page from "The Listener"

Sunday at Word on the Street, comic creator David Lester will be giving a presentation, with slides and music, of his graphic novel The Listener, as well as autographing copies. Here’s my impression of the book:


Maus, Persepolis, Louis Riel, the journalism of Joe Sacco… many of the best comics are biographies, be they autobiographies or historical. The Listener by David Lester is a tale in a similar vein, entwining the story of Hitler’s rise to power with that of a desperate artist in the modern world. The story is compelling and the art is moody, with panels dominated by various shades of gray that often give a claustrophobic feel.

The story gazes into the intimate lives of the various main characters, including that of Hitler himself, such as in a scene where his girlfriend Eva playfully asks him to paint her picture. There is something powerful and chilling about seeing that man, responsible for so much misery and death, smile so indulgently at his girlfriend. That he was indeed human, with many of the feelings and affectations shared by so many of us, makes his evil even more frightening.

The art is detailed and moody, and the story is a potent one. At times, The Listener’s dialogue is rough and not always up to the calibur of the art and subject matter, but still the graphic novel remains a very intriguing and powerful piece that deserves a closer inspection.

Information on The Listener, along with an animated version of one of its scenes, can be found at The Listener website.

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