Saturday, August 2, 2008

99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style

by Matt Madden

Graphic Novel, 2005
Chamberlain Bros. (Penguin USA), pb, 203 p.
Matt Madden’s Exercises in Style is a series of engrossing one-page comics that tell the same story in a variety of ways. Inspired by Raymond Queneau’s 1947 work of the same title, a mainstay of creative writing courses, Madden’s project demonstrates the expansive range of possibilities available to all storytellers.
This was a really fun look at storytelling. Starting with this as the template, he came up with so many creative variations of the same story. Sure I didn’t love all of them and some of them were a bit silly but I think that’s the point. It certainly showed that there are numerous perspectives and ways to approach a seemingly simple story. I haven't read Queneau's book that this was inspired by, although I've heard of it, and I am curious how he could write one story 99 different ways since in some ways I think drawing multiple versions would be easier than writing them. Regardless, just like the book itself proclaims on the cover, I think this would be quite inspirational to those who write or work on film or any other kind of storytelling.

From L-R: Horizontal, Manga, Cento (David Mazzucchelli, Ben Katchor, Chester Brown, Marc-Antoine Mathieu, Daniel Clowes, Art Spiegelman, Julie Doucet, Gary Panter)
Click on photos to enlarge.
*Illustrations © Matt Madden
Interview with Matt Madden in The Comics Journal

Originally posted at In Spring it is the Dawn

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