Ex Libris: A Comic by Matt Madden


38.00 Ounces

Hardcover, 106 pages, Full Color

"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

"Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give Ex Libris is that I reread the book shortly after finishing it for the sheer pleasure of enjoying how every element came together."—Alex Deuben

"As an exploration of style and form Ex Libris manages to merge experimentation and accessibility. It’s sometimes funny, often clever and always thought-provoking."Slings & Arrows


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.


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