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99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  518 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
99 Ways to Tell a Story is a series of engrossing one-page comics that tell the same story ninety-nine different ways. Inspired by Raymond Queneau’s 1947 Exercises in Style, a mainstay of creative writing courses, Madden’s project demonstrates the expansive range of possibilities available to all storytellers. Readers are taken on an enlightening tour—sometimes amusing, al ...more
Paperback, 207 pages
Published October 25th 2005 by Chamberlain Bros.
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Ferragosto Bk 1 by Jonathan David LangeMetaMaus by Art SpiegelmanMaus II  by Art SpiegelmanMaus I by Art SpiegelmanPersepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi
Literary Comic Books
34th out of 53 books — 2 voters
Lolita by Vladimir NabokovArcadia by Tom StoppardAtonement by Ian McEwanThe Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert  BurtonExercises in Style by Raymond Queneau
Complete Review's A+ & A Rated Books
61st out of 100 books — 8 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,076)
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Mar 24, 2010 David rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
This is Raymond Queneau's "Exercises in Style" reimagined as 99 variants of the same visual narrative. It's the kind of project that (I suspect) will leave most people scratching their head and asking WTF, but that will prove irresistible to a certain very specialized subset of readers. You know who you are. I'm not saying it's a given that you attend Comicon, have an unsettling mastery of Star Wars arcana, or work in Information Technology. On the other hand, the reader most likely to enjoy Mad ...more
Apr 07, 2010 Manny rated it liked it
Queneau-lite, for people who can't be bothered to read the French original; Madden draws 99 one-page cartoons, all presenting variants on this basic story:

Some of the ideas are very funny! I particularly liked Manga, Superhero, Bayeux Tapestry, Map, Political Cartoon, How-To (he explains the process of drawing a comic strip) and most of the parody/homage pieces in honour of famous graphic artists. The Crumb parody is spot-on:


A few entries do give the impression of being there to make up the numb
Mark Hebwood
May 04, 2015 Mark Hebwood rated it liked it
Shelves: comix
Let me start by quoting from the blurb:

Inspired by Raymond Queneau's 1947 work of the same title, which told a simple story in ninety-nine different styles and genres ... Madden does the same but in different styles of comics - Marvel superhero, R. Crumb, Herge, even as a map or the Bayeux Tapestry.

Well, Matt's work may not have been quite as original as this statement suggests. In 1963, Gallimard published an illustrated edition of Exercises de Style, which contained drawings by Jacques Carelma
David Ramirer
Jul 07, 2015 David Ramirer rated it it was amazing
eine wunderbare variation auf die 'stilübungen' von raymond queneau in comicform.
matt maden geht mit bestechend spielerischem ernst an die sache heran und zeigt - nicht weniger überzeugend wie sein inspirator - wie viele optionen es im comic gibt.
der einzige schwachpunkt besteht meiner ansicht nach in den hommagen, die sich in dem werk finden. diese sind zwar sehr gut umgesetzt, verlassen aber den klar umrissenen rahmen des werks, weil sie das fass zu weit auskippen... andererseits aber, es gäbe
Geoffrey Fox
Apr 18, 2016 Geoffrey Fox rated it liked it
This is a lot of fun, especially for fans (like me) of comic book art. Madden has a skillful pen (and brush and photographer's eye, because he uses various media), and is good at imitating the styles of other cartoonists he admires. The question he poses (as did Raymond Queneau, whose 1947 book Exercices de style inspired this one) is whether, by changing point of view, tense and tone, we are really telling the same story. Like Queneau, he begins with a very simple (rather silly) anecdote: comic ...more
Feb 05, 2014 Dirk rated it it was amazing
This book is an imitation and homage to Raymond Queneau’s legendary Exercises in Style. Both works in turn reflect the tradition of books of etudes that teach and explore composition and keyboard techniques running from Bach at least to Shostakovich. Like Exercise in Style, 99 Ways To Tell a Story takes a very small incident: a man in what is evidently a two-story apartment leaves his workspace to go to the kitchen. He is interrupted by someone upstairs asking him what time it is. He then reache ...more
R A Lynch
May 22, 2016 R A Lynch rated it it was amazing
Does what it says... presents the same one page story 99 different ways. It's inspiring, witty and just plain clever. Thoroughly enjoyable read.
May 22, 2016 Tomo20 rated it it was amazing
A skilful and witty experiment in style that is also thought provoking, informative and fun.
Dec 08, 2009 Diane rated it it was amazing
Serendipitous find as I searched Amazon for books related to one of my favorites: Exercises de Style de Raymond Queneau. The premise, take the same 2 events, and retell them in 95 different ways, varying the style each time. This version is all about graphically, visually, retelling the same story. In my quest to get more visually intelligent about graphic novels, this was definitely a step in the right direction.
Alec Chalmers
Apr 02, 2014 Alec Chalmers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic book for inspiration as it gets you to think about how sequential images are represented. It does wonders for the imagination and I'll be keeping it at hand for future reference, as it can be picked up and flipped through without regard to the context.

The premise is a simple story, told in comic form over one page. The author interprets this single story repeatedly using different styles, allowing the reader to understand each style's particular qualities, and how they form the same
Aug 17, 2015 Gemma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bd, 2015
99 exercices de style est un roman graphique. L'auteur a pris une situation anodine du quotidien, ici, se levé pour aller chercher quelque chose dans le frigo et une fois arrivé devant, ne plus se souvenir ce qu'on venait chercher, et a décliné cette situation en 99 planches différents en se basant sur la planche de base (la matrice). C'est vraiment une BD hors du commun, parfois décalée, parfois sous forme de cahier de vacances (jeux des différences), et qui permet de découvrir pleins de style ...more
Inna Komarovsky
Mar 22, 2014 Inna Komarovsky rated it really liked it
Shelves: sequential
Some variations of the simple story are in the style of specific people, and others are in the author's style but with some kind of twist in the way he would normally tell it. Some examples are "Unreliable Narrator," "Photocomic," "One Panel," "Thirty Panels," "Cento," "Map," "Storyboard," "Personification," "The Next Day," "Too Much Text," "Minimalist," "Horizontal," "Vertical"...

Some of them seem kind of just some way to change the comic, like "What's Wrong with this Comic?" and "Inking Outsid
Jan 09, 2013 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
This is tagged as "an exploration of storytelling that will amuse and delight you, and inspire your own creative work--your novel, your comic, even your film."

I picked it up as a creative inspiration piece. Reading it reminded me of watching improv theater.

Every spread in the book has the same script. But every spread in the book tells the story in a different way. Some are slight differences, such as altering the POV, others change the genre (space fiction, western, detective novel), others pl
Mar 11, 2010 Aaron rated it liked it
In concept this book is fascinating. In execution, it's rather limited -- more of a quick-read companion piece to Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics than essential study. A few of Madden's exercises like "Anime" and "Dailies" are interesting, revealing the way artistic genres influence the reader's expectations and subtle emotional reactions.

It seems like the only real limits to this project are book production costs and Madden's technique, so it's a shame that Madden didn't go further into t
Travis Mueller
Jul 02, 2014 Travis Mueller rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 26, 2013 Bruce rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everybody
This is definitely in the ouerve of Scott McCloud. It's variations-on-a-one-page-theme, 99 comics retelling a scenelet about a cartoonist who goes downstairs to check the fridge, only to discover he's forgotten what the heck he wanted.

The book seemed a bit familiar, but after seeing I hadn't reviewed it, I figured I hadn't read it. So I checked it out in anticipation of reading it together with Raymond Queneau's book (still on hold at the library).

Left the office in the rain and picked it up on
Oct 22, 2015 Emilyn rated it liked it
The concept of this book was the best thing about it. It makes me want to write a book that's similar, except not in comics and without language but with a fairy tale or two.
The introduction intrigued me the most, and a few versions of the comic (only one page long) are amusing.

"Can a story, however simple or mundane, be separated from the manner in which it is told? Is there an essential nugget from which all stylistic and physical characteristics can be stripped? What would that core look like
Oct 13, 2015 Andy rated it really liked it
Just what the title says, although the title doesn't tell you how much fun you'll have reading the book. While you're having fun, however, you'll learn a lot about narrative styles, regardless of the medium you're working in. You'll also gain a better appreciation of comics and how they're structured.
May 05, 2015 Wsclai rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
99 ways to tell the same story. lt may be a bit repetitive but it's fun reading it. In a way, it is a guide to train creavtivity. Different perspectives and different modes of narration make totay different results.
Tim Timberly
Mar 06, 2015 Tim Timberly rated it liked it
Very similar to the original Exercises in Style, with the occasional reference to Raymond Queneau. I probably would have rated the book higher if I knew more about the different genres of comics.
Jun 03, 2010 Jeff rated it liked it
Meh. I liked it, but I can't help but think the author cheated more than a few times. Often Madden changes the characters, or the dialogue to have the man refer to someone else rather than himself. These seem to be different stories, not just stylistic variations. And for the most part Madden doesn't explore the use of layout as a style point. There is one example each of layouts of only horizontal and only vertical panels, but what about and example of, say, one panel covering the left side of ...more
The finding of Judith Shakespeare
Entretenido, fácil de leer e inspirador. No es que sea una obra maestra, pero es interesante como idea.
Louis Rondeau
Apr 07, 2009 Louis Rondeau rated it really liked it
A very interesting book based on Raymond Queneau's "Exercices de style". There are only a handful of exercises here that don't really work well. Most of them are fascinating and a few are real eye-openers, and reveal the power of comics as a worthy art form.

"99 Ways..." is actually a very compelling look at various "comic book" techniques, and as such, could serve as a complement to Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art".

It definitely wants to make you re-read Queneau's "Exerc
Steve Garvin
Jul 24, 2015 Steve Garvin rated it liked it
Shelves: cartoons-drawing
Useful for reference in figuring out which way to tell a cartoon story.
Montse Gallardo
Jan 19, 2015 Montse Gallardo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Una propuesta original y -aparentemente- complicada, esta de una misma historia contada de 99 maneras diferentes; cuando lo vi me resultó llamativo y decidí leerlo

Me ha gustado cómo combina diferentes técnicas gráficas, distintos estilos, homenajea a grandes y reconocibles autores de comics... y sí, siempre es la misma historia; y no te cansas de leerla, porque estás esperando qué giro le dará en la siguiente página.

Una opción muy interesante y recomendable.

Mis favoritas: la versión underground,
May 28, 2015 z rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
refreshing perspectives but got a little uninspired and tiring
Mar 05, 2016 Bryanzk rated it really liked it
some of them are inspiring
Sep 30, 2012 Mjhancock rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
Matt Madden takes a simple one page story--he gets up, a woman asks him for the time, and he forgets what he wanted from the fridge--and tells it over and over again, in 99 different ways. It's a hard thing to rate, because it doesn't really exist to be rated--it's more of, as the title says, a series of aesthetic exercises. Madden says in the introduction that he wants to look into how story is rooted in the way it's told, and from the sheer variety of images here, I think he picked a good medi ...more
Jade Moore
Feb 03, 2015 Jade Moore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this all in one go and really enjoyed it! A lot of fun to read, especially the more imaginative ones. Inspired by Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau , I would recommend reading the Queneau exercises first, because I think Madden's will then be more enjoyable.
Oct 03, 2010 Rachelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
Clever, clever, clever. A really great book for anyone interested in visual narrative as Madden recreates one simple banal scene in, you guessed it, ninety-nine different ways. More than just a heady exercise, it had me laughing out loud with certain parodies like Little Nemo in Slumberland and those Chick gospel tracts. And I had no trouble dipping in and out of the book when able, a must for the mother of an eight-month-old. :)
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MATT MADDEN is a cartoonist and the author of 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style. Together, they are the authors of Drawing Words & Writing Pictures.
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