SELECTED REVIEWS of Prophet Against Slavery: Benjamin Lay, a graphic novel

“Lester’s raw, expressive visual approach perfectly delivers. Prophet Against Slavery is a crucial account of abolitionism’s religious framework, its courage and moral clarity often recast as sin or insanity, and the necessity of taking outside risks in pursuit of justice and equality.” —Nate Powell, National Book Award–winning artist of the March trilogy about US congressman John Lewis

“The saga of Benjamin Lay is both unique and glorious. Historian Marcus Rediker and artist David Lester do a splendid job in bringing history to life.” —Kate Evans, author and artist of Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg

“Do you know the story of Benjamin Lay? Neither did I. These pages constitute the graphic apocrypha of the Prophet Against Slavery himself, brought to light by Lester’s thorough research, spare language, and stunning artwork. In unflinching terms, his expressionist drawings capture the passion and commitment of his subject.” —Jason Lutes, author of Berlin

“This book is a simple, moving introduction to a man who fought for justice with fearlessness and determination, and lived in striking simplicity in order to remain true to his morals.” — New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association

“In its attention to detail and use of primary sources, it will also remind readers of Jason Lutes’ Berlin series on the tortured Weimar Republic (another Drawn & Quarterly title).” — Richard Mammana, founder of

“This was brilliant. And now I find myself wanting to find and read Lay’s writings.” — Matthew Noe, Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table (American Library Association)

“Lester’s grayscale art has a hand-drawn quality that owes something to both old-fashioned printmaking and zine culture—lively and not overly refined, it suits the biography of a man whose politics were fundamentally punk rock.”— No flying, No Tights

“Graphic novelist David Lester brings the full scope of Lay’s activism and ideas to life.” — Book Musings, Friends General Conference (Philadelphia)

“Although David Lester’s Prophet Against Slavery shouldn’t work as a graphic novel, it does. And marvellously so…. It should not be as dynamic as it is. But the story leaps off the page.” — London Free Press

“This is no simple comic strip; it is an artistic work that presents traumatic real events. The black and white roughness of the illustrations is compelling and appropriate to convey the depth and struggle lived by a radical, simple-living vegetarian abolitionist.” — Friends Journal, Quaker magazine (Philadelphia)

“Prophet Against Slavery: Benjamin Lay, A Graphic Novel should be read by all.” — The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (Texas)

“It’s a really important story.” — John Malkin, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Sentinel

“I just finished reading PROPHET AGAINST SLAVERY. I loved it. And the drawings are exquisite.” — Naomi Wallace (playwright)

“David Lester, Marcus Rediker and Paul Buhle bring to life a truly remarkable revolutionary in their graphic novel about Benjamin Lay. Equal parts history, art, and biography, this stunning book gives voice to a forgotten prophet. An important and prescient read.” — Gavin Woltjer, Library Director, Billings Public Library. Montana

“Lester manages to convey a sense of movement throughout the book, a feat that would require many artists to employ colour and electronic techniques. This story is all from Lester’s hand. David Lester serves us well as a guide to history that is often lost or buried.” — Ron Verzuh, BC Review

“Lester has created a moving, engaging, and eye-opening graphic novel.” — Michael G. Vann, New Books Network

“Prophet Against Slavery— fascinating graphic version of Fearless Benjamin Lay.” — Kenneth C. Davis, author of Don’t Know Much About History

“A shining bright graphic novel”. — Jonas Bals, Klassekampen, Norwegian daily newspaper

“He draws with a rough verve that suits his passionate subject. But underneath the expressionistic flourishes lie the structures of a brilliant visual storyteller. Lester never over explains: Images speak for themselves in lucid passages of wordless panels.” — Sabrina Jones, artist/author of Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography

“Lester draws in a deceptively rough-hewn style, with fiercely hatched images sometimes suggestive of woodcuts. He powerfully communicates the inflamed passions of his protagonist as well as the tenderness of more intimate scenes.” — Bill O’Driscoll, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Lester’s illustrations display a nuanced empathy with his subject. The black-and-white drawings resonate with Lay’s absolutist moral code..” — Bill Meyer, Magnet Magazine

“Hopefully Prophet Against Slavery can inspire human rights activists in future.” — Stuart Derdeyn, Vancouver Sun

“Lester’s drawings vary from simple lines to intricately detailed, with an especially effective use of white and black space. His panels are unpredictable throughout, as if reflecting Lay’s own nonconformist choices. — Terry Hong, Shelf Awareness, Smithsonian BookDragon

“Lester’s graphic novel does a tremendous job capturing this visual, and the fiery empathy with which the man carried himself despite his stature. And I am grateful for that: Prophet Against Slavery has exposed me to a truly fascinating bit of undertold American history.” — Thom Dunn, Boing Boing. Dunn is also a staff writer for the New York Times’ Wirecutter

“David’s sketchy drawing style is perfectly suited to the subject matter, reminiscent of a notebook or a journal from a past century.” — Jonathon Dalton, Cloudscape Comics Society

“Prophet Against Slavery: Benjamin Lay, tells this revolutionary’s life story in moody, evocative, and provocative illustrations. Expressive faces and pained bodies move the action and the atmosphere, in ink, charcoal, paint in austere grays, blacks, and whites.” — Nina MacLaughlin, Boston Globe

“Moving images, a passionate script, and a compelling narrative in one.” — Adel Franklyn, Broken Pencil

“While the story alone merits reading. Lester’s art gives a flavour that lingers in the reader’s mind…. the deep inks and sharp lines are thoroughly modern in their display of Lay’s aggressive passion for freedom.” — Jeff Provine, BlogCritics Magazine

“A fascinating read.” — Graphic Policy

“Some of the most memorable scenes occur as Lay disrupts Quaker meetings, where Lester is tasked with illustrating both the shock of the gatherings, and the violence Lay attempted to bring to light. A hard task of simultaneity that Lester works to represent through those dark-lined sketches overlaid on the scenes.” — Fifth Estate

“Lester’s artwork is aptly grim and features rough linework that’s splashed with gray washes and black ink blots that evoke blood, smoke, and shadows.” — Publishers Weekly

“Prophet Against Slavery vividly integrates Lester’s illustrations with profound words that expertly represent Lay. Lester’s graphic novel is a brilliant adaptation that pays tribute to both Lay and Rediker’s biography while providing its audience with a captivating reading experience that they won’t soon forget.” — NEXUS (Camosun College)

“He’s (Lester) got the entire subject of the Quaker dwarf with an outsider’s grasp of the social and moral corruption around him in the economical monochrome of these spreads. Things are black-and-white when one reduces them to lines drawn in the sand. Using the palette he chose makes the starkness of Benjamin Lay’s moral universe simply part of the experience of learning about him.” — Richard Derus, Library Thing

“Beautifully drawn work, with emotionally affecting imagery and layouts.” — Rotem Anna Diamant, Canada Comics Open Library

“The art is beautiful and very original, and I love the spare and poetic quality of the text. It’s a compelling combination.” — Nick DePascal, Santa Fe University of Art and Design

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