The Listener 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.

1933: In a small German state, the last democratic election is about to take place before a failed artist named Hitler seizes power. The election is Hitler’s chance to manipulate events that will lead to the death of millions.

2010: After a man dies during a political act inspired by a work of art, the artist flees to Europe to escape her guilt. Through a chance meeting she discovers the truth of the 1933 election. The past becomes pivotal as she decides her future.

Part of our Literary Collection.

Subject Graphic Novel/Historical Fiction/Arts & Politics
Published April 2011
Price $19.95 CDN
Pages 304 pp (Paper)
Dimensions 6.5″ × 10″ × .75″
ISBN-10 1894037480
ISBN-13 9781894037488

Related Titles


  • Les Wiseman, in Times Colonist writes:

    The Listener’s impact as a cautionary tale is a nausea-inducing jackboot in the gut. As art, it is a blend of many styles and a meditation on the use of art itself for good and evil. As a novel, it has a real ending and a carefully plotted story arc. As a graphic novel, it raises the stakes on the whole genre. For a Vancouver artist and writer it is a launch into the big leagues.

  • Richard Jenkins Blog writes:

    David Lester skillfully executes the artwork in an expressionistic dreamlike gray wash, which is well suited to the disorientation the protagonist feels, as well as to the many moments of memory in the story. He is adept at both creating straight-forward narrative imagery, and in creating the montage images, combining elements of different subjects into a dream/memory like image.

  • Francisca Goldsmith, in School Library Journal writes:

    This is an excellent graphic novel for teens who appreciate history or have an interest in contemporary politics as well as for young artists and writers who can both learn from and appreciate the storytelling that brings the past to life while focusing on a character’s present. From the opening passages, the tension never lets up, yet the story remains accessible and memorable.

  • Publishers Weekly writes:

    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.

  • Adrian Mack, in Georgia Straight writes:

    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.

  • BK Munn, in Sequential writes:

    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.

  • Jessica Pena , in Daily Californian writes:

    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.

  • Bernard C. Cormier, in Times & Transcript writes:

    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).

  • Kristin Bomba, in writes:

    As for Lester’s art, it sweeps across the pages, changing as if it is alive with his thoughts.

  • Joshua Malbin, in writes:

    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.

  • Indie Street writes:

    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.

About the Author

David Lester is a cartoonist, painter, graphic designer, and guitarist in the rock duo Mecca Normal. He created the poster series “Inspired Agitators,” now archived at The Center for the Study of Political Graphics in Los Angeles. Lester also does a weekly illustration, with text by Mecca Normal bandmate Jean Smith, for Magnet Magazine. His artwork has been published in MungBeing, Z Magazine, Reproduce & Revolt: A Graphic Toolbox for the 21st Century Activist, The San Diego Reader, and Warburger. Learn more of about his music and art here. He lives in Vancouver, Canada.

Also by David Lester