Matt Madden: Exercises in Style

99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style (2005) is a “seriously playful exploration of the possibilities and potential of comics and storytelling”. The book is based on a simple one-page anecdote which is re-drawn and re-old 99 times in different genres and drawing styles, in the form of homages and parodies, and in formal experiments that test the boundaries of the medium of comics.

It was inspired by the French author Raymond Queneau’s 1947 book Exercises in Style (FrEng), itself inspired by Bach’s Art of the Fugue.

What was most revealing to me about the experience was the sense of constant wonder and engagement I could find reworking this simple “non-story” of a comic 99 times and more (I worked on about 20 more that never made it to completion). I started this project as a challenge to myself: both to see if I could pull it off but also to see if I could plumb some of the richness of visual narrative that I was looking for. I chose early on to limit myself as much as possible with my process:

1. Every page would be one page only (Queneau’s stories vary) to concentrate attention on page layout and composition.

2. every page would include all the dialogue in some form or other.

3. every page would try to change as little as posslble from the “Template” comic: number and placement of panels, position of characters in the panels, props used, and so on

Reading Comics This Way and That Way Interview with Steven Heller | June 16, 2011

Matt Madden: Constraints, Limitations & Persistence [Your Creative Push Ep 277