Traces of Madness: A Graphic Memoir

Graphic Mundi. May 2024. 128p. tr. from Spanish by Richard Beevor & Mailén Sganga. ISBN 9781637790700. pap. $19.95. MEMOIR
For Spanish teen Balius, the voices coming from inside him were like a monster tearing him down and urging him to hurt himself, and he couldn’t turn them off. Physical side-effects of these auditory hallucinations spiraled out of control, and other people shunned him or sent him to medical experts. Worse, prescribed medications stupefied what was left of his selfhood without healing his problem. Then decades later, friends introduced him to the network Intervoice, which connected him with others experiencing similar symptoms who learned to dialogue productively with their voices. When Balius argued with his monster and disobeyed the voices, his agonizing life turned more manageable. Pellejer artfully expresses Balius’s journey together with his visualized yellow “monster” through smudgy, awkward grayscale art that becomes full color only after Balius discovers the path out of his misery. A fascinating appendix collects Balius’s sensory, physical, and social symptoms associated with an approaching bout of voices.
VERDICT A debut graphic memoir that was originally published in Spain and won the Popular Prize award at the Salón del Cómic in Barcelona, this moving and devastating portrait of a little-understood condition will fascinate and educate readers.
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