Tell me a Story
Where to begin? They say that the first sentence is one of the most important because it sets the tone of the story or the paper or whatever… But ya know, the important thing really is that you begin. Or something… Which only sorta kinda touches on what I am looking at right now.
So, I am going to go about this in a slightly round about way. I woke up this morning to a message on my Facebook messenger. From who is only marginally important in that it was a friend. And he didn’t wake me up, I just noticed it when I woke up. But the conversation we had was what is relevant to today’s thought.
He had asked me about a comics reader for a kindle and about the Netflix of comics. If you haven’t heard me mention it before this is a reference to Comixology Unlimited (an Amazon service similar to Kindle Unlimited). I read a hefty amount of comics on a monthly basis (I am their target market). But aside from a plug for the service that I am not getting paid for anyway, it got me to thinking about what is available.
See, CU doesn’t have any of the biggest players in comics in the service. This means nothing from Marvel and nothing from DC. There was a time in history when this would have been a death spiral. They were pretty much the only players in the comics industry and I can imagine that there are many who still see this as true. When you look at the movie universe battles for ratings between both companies you might take that could be what you base that thought on. And you would be wrong.
From the time when I was a kid and collecting comics was the way of things, the world has grown. Changes in the industry and publishing standards have made it possible for so much more. And with it a change in what you can find on the shelves. I mean, if you look at a number of the graphic novels I have gone through in the past, you can see the myriad variety of stories and story styles out there. And I have barely scratched the surface.
Which brings me to the subject of today’s thoughts. I have known that comics like this have existed for a while. But I haven’t seen too many of them. And then I ran across this one. 99 Ways to Tell a Story, written by Matt Madden (Chamberlain Bros 2005) is something you might not expect as a graphic novel. If you take the words graphic novel literally, then it doesn’t even fit the definition. It literally is 99 different iterations of the same story. And every single instance of this story is told through a different graphical interpretation.
In a nutshell, the story is simple. Matt is sitting at his computer, he stands up, and goes downstairs. Someone off camera asks him what time it is, and then he forgets what he is looking for in the fridge. Yes, 99 times for this story. I know what you’re thinking here, “what the hell is the point?” I didn’t mention this yet did I? The book is an exercise in perspective. The visual representations are in place to help you see different ways that you can approach storytelling. Sure in part it is an art instruction book. But the lessons work cross platform for writing as well. That should be obvious but some of us are slow, like me.
This is a great example of the different variety of comics and graphic novels we have available today. When I was growing up something like this wouldn’t have been taken seriously enough to get this far. Comics were children’s stories on cheap paper. Of course, that is something that also made the older comics valuable as well.
But I digress…
I loved this book. Ended up flying through it (granted when you know the premise of every story you are reading your focus changes). This is something you actually want to collect for its intrinsic value. Like any other reference book it is something you can return to as needed to learn something new and maybe see something you missed before.
What we used to know about comics and such has changed and is continuing to evolve. There are so many different things we can experience through a new vision. Stories and ideas we used to only have one point of access to have gained new form. And with these changes we can see things we never thought of before.
If you enjoy these stories, consider leaving some coffee money in the jar or you could buy a book or two. Either way helps keep the stories flowing.