Chester Brown was born in Montreal, Canada, on May 16, 1960, and grew up in the nearby suburb of Chateauguay. At nineteen he moved to Toronto where, in 1983, he began self-publishing his work in photocopied mini-comics under the title Yummy Fur. In the pages of Yummy Fur he serialized a bleakly humorous story called Ed the Happy Clown, which was published as a graphic novel in 1989. It went on to become a cult classic and established his reputation as a prominent creator. His following works were The Playboy, and I Never Liked You (1994), two autobiographical comics about his adolescence.
Chester Brown is best known for his two recent non-fiction graphic novels, Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography (2003) and Paying for It: A Comic-Strip Memoir About Being a John (2011). The former won widespread critical acclaim for its compelling, meticulously researched portrayal of Riel, the charismatic nineteenth century Métis leader, a crucial figure in Canadian history. The book won Harvey Awards for Best Writer and Best Graphic Album.
Paying for It is an autobiographical recounting of Brown's experiences paying prostitutes for sex, which earned both praise and condemnation. The book was endorsed by significant figures in the sex worker rights movement, including Tracy Quan, Annie Sprinkle, and Maggie McNeill, bolstering its standing as a polemic that addresses important issues regarding sex work.