Today I'm featuring cartoonist Matt Madden. Influenced by the European literary group Oulipo and it's comics equivalent Oubapo (of which Matt is a member), his comics often use the oulipian approach of imposed constraints. Matt's experiments led this to a very poetry relevant piece he did a few years ago The Six Treasures of the Spiral: A Comics Sestina. Which, as it says in the title is a sestina done in comics form—the worlds first!
I won't go into the structural details of a sestina, because frankly I never could keep them straight. But as a readers of the BAP blog, I imagine you all will know those rules. You can see it here.
It first appeared in issue 2 of his comic book series of A Fine Mess whose covers were something of a design collaboration between me and Matt.
A Fine Mess #1
With this cover we wanted to do a story that ran in a continuous loop. As you flip the cover around from front to back the story is a constant repeat. This is completely fictitious and does not in any way refer to an event from Matt's college years in Austin Tx, in the early 1990's.
A Fine Mess #2
This cover design refers to the above linked sestina, and carried on the theme of continuousness. This time referring to the spiral of the comic book sestina's structure, the story's title, and the whirlpool that occurs in the actual story.
99 Ways to tell a story: Exercises in Style U.S. edition
As wonderful as his work in AFM is, Matt's Magnum Opus is 99 Ways to tell a story: Exercises in Style. Based on the structure of Raymond Queneau's Exercises in Style--one mundane story retold 99 different ways, Matt illuminates the ranges of styles and genres that comics have to offer. It is a revelation for those that love the comics form, and those who are just curious.
99 Ways to tell a story: Exercises in Style U.K. edition
Matt's book has been published in 8 countries, and been translated into 7 languages. I got a rare opportunity to redesign my own cover for the U.K. Edition, which is a lot closer to what Matt and I had in mind for the U.S. edition.
Oubapo Bonus: A page from Triple Dare#2 (WARNING: EMBARRASSING, BUT HUMOROUS MALE CARTOON FRONTAL NUDITY CONTAINED)
Triple Dare was a short lived series of comics experimentation in which 3 cartoonists would create a story based on retraints imposed by another cartoonist. In this issue the participants were Tom Hart, James Kocholka, and Nick Bertozzi. Matt had the back cover bonus entry. I include this because as designer of this issue I asked, in the spirit of Oubapo, that each artist randomly be selected to do a portrait of another. Everyone liked the idea except for Nick who said "Oh no, they're going to make me look like Frankenstein!" He was right James made him look like Frankenstein. Tom's portrait of James refers to his penchant for stripping while performing with his band James Kocholka Superstar. I thought that Matt, and Tom came off looking quite nice in their portraits.
Tomorrow--Kenneth Koch, David Lehman, and James Cummins.