By Matt Madden. Published by Uncivilized Books.
Hardcover, 106 pages, B&W and Colour, 2021.
"Ex Libris is a work of purposeful sprawl. It’s an existential locked-room mystery — “Memento” with a bibliophilic twist — in which a dazed, nameless narrator tries to overcome his enigmatically dire impasse by looking for clues in the bookcase by the door. It’s a perfect vehicle for Madden’s talents and obsessions […]"—Ed Park, New York Times
"Madden calls attention brilliantly to the medium’s building blocks—elements like panel borders and sound effects—in a kind of comics theory course with the punch line of the protagonist declaring that “drawings have a greater power than words to get under your skin.” This endlessly inventive work is a metafictional master class in comics."—Publishers Weekly; Starred Review
"Madden displays a keen mastery of numerous visual and narrative styles. A formally inventive, deeply emotional tale, reminiscent of Italo Calvino’s If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler..."—Library Journal
"This elegant showcase of graphic storytelling displays deep knowledge of the language of comics. The book’s metafictional forays always serve the unnamed reader’s tale, too; the subtle build of the mood and suspense around them results in a dazzling graphic novel."—Foreword Reviews; Starred Review
Ex Libris revolves around a character trapped in a room with nothing but a futon and a bookcase full of comics. As they peruse covers, read stories and fragments of stories, they begin to suspect that the comics contain hidden messages and… a threat. Fiction and reality blur; sanity and madness become increasingly intertwined as the reader becomes convinced the key to their predicament hides between the panels of the strange books.
With a dizzying array of inventive visual and narrative styles, Ex Libris continues the line of exploration and play that Madden initiated with 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style. Ex Libris is a tribute to the meta-fictional tradition of writers like Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Vladimir Nabokov, and Italo Calvino (whose novel, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, was the inspiration).
MATT MADDEN (NYC 1968) is a cartoonist, teacher, and translator. His best-known book is 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style, a comics adaptation of Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style. His recent work includes the comic books Drawn Onward and Bridge. He has been living in Philadelphia since 2016.
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Praise for 99 Ways to Tell A Story:
"A fascinating analysis of and a treatise, of sorts, on language in comics."—Steven Heller, designer and author
"Balances postmodern irony with genuine invention and amusement."—The Guardian
"There’s a new discovery on every page, making this one of the most thrilling and surprising graphic novels around."—Comics Worth Reading
"Astonishingly, for a book that is above all else repetitive, it never gets boring. Even the obvious is interesting, and Madden also comes up with a lot of great stuff, ways of seeing that might not have occurred to the reader. Fantastic and thought-provoking fun. Highly recommended."—The Complete Review