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99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style Paperback – 6 Jul 2006
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"Pure formalist fun from one of American comics' most inventive minds, 99 Ways to Tell a Story is a smart and funny exploration of comics' many layers" (Scott McLoud, author of Understanding Comics)
"Delightful, intriguing and compelling. 99 Ways to Tell a Story is a zany masterpiece that reads like a convergence of Robert Louis Stevenson, Italo Calvino and Action Comics" (Harry Mathews)
A series of one-page comics that tell the same story in a variety of ways. Inspired by Raymond Queneau's 1947 work of the same title.See all Product description
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Some of my favorite "versions" of the story:
"Voyeur" presents each panel from a perspective outside one of the windows.
"Reframing" tells the story entirely with hands and punctuation marks.
"What Happens When the Ice Truck Comes to Hogan's Alley" pays tribute to Richard Outcault.
"A Lifetime to Get to the Refrigerator" ages the main character as he progresses through the panels.
"Actor's Studio II" has the story's character exaggerate the relevant emotion in each panel.
The story variations are interesting and clever. This book can be read for entertainment or as a stimulus for developing a less constrained writing style. It's also fun to pass around the office.
I defy anyone to remain unmoved at the sheer inventiveness of styles and variations.
Like a comic version of Beethoven's Diabelli Variations - or dare I say it: Bach's Goldberg Variations.
Whatever the associations go out and get it.
You will not be disappointed.
That's the whole story, and Matt Madden ranges through 99 other ways of telling the same story. Many of them are drawn with wonderful inspiration - my favourite being the Krazy & Ignatz version Esk Her Size end Style (exercise in style) - five all too brief panels during which Krazy Kat gets his customary brick to the head - cue heart floating above him - there is nothing he loves more, but then along comes the jailer to put his `sweetheart' mouse in jail. If you haven't seen the original Krazy & Ignatz comics (by George Herriman), it won't compute. As a play on the business of style it is beautifully redolent of the original comics which only became popular after he stopped drawing them. Furthermore, this version of the story has very little in common with the original.
It's all down to Raymond Queneau (b.1903, d.1973), an intellectual who founded the Ouvroir de litterature potentielle (otherwise known as Oulipo). One of Queneau's most influential works is Exercises In Style, which tells the simple story of a man who sees the same stranger twice in one day. It tells that short story in 99 different ways, demonstrating the tremendous variety of styles in which storytelling can take place. This book is Matt Madden's graphical story adaptation of the book's concept. It works well in some contexts, especially the Underground Comix version, which cleverly reworks the story as that of a hippy, but it doesn't quite have the punch of the written versions, which used rhetorical tricks and terms such as metaphor, negatives, anagrams, Alexandrines, comedy, philosophy, etc. Madden has to work within the comic book ouevre, which has far fewer tropes that can be worked as different styles, and was, anyway linguistically based.
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