Matt Madden uses multiple methods of visual storytelling in the surreal, inventive graphic novel Ex Libris.
A troubled person enters a room that holds a bookshelf stocked with comics and graphic novels. Wondering about the provenance of the books, they undertake a mission to “become a true reader” of comics. They have no memory of coming to the room, a situation echoed in a story they read about a person marooned at a remote desert outpost.
As the book proceeds, the person sees other echoes in different kinds of graphic stories, including superhero, horror, and romance titles. Most of the stories seem to involve people who are “trapped or stuck somewhere,” and their pages serve as clever tributes to their respective genres, with appropriate fonts, colors, and art styles.
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.
The full review is coming soon to Foreword Reviews site, but we were allowed to share this advance peek with our readers!