Traces of Madness

A Graphic Memoir

Fernando Balius, Illustrated by Mario Pellejer, and translated by Richard Beevor and Malién Sganga

“An emotionally and intellectually gripping account of one voice-hearer’s painful but life-affirming journey through a discouraging, ineffective mental health system—and the conflicted reactions of loved ones—toward growing understanding and acceptance. The heartbreaking but inspiring honesty and the simple but vivid graphics are, in combination, truly magnificent.”

Pre-Order, Releases
May 21

128 pages
6.5" × 9.25"
2024

I want to share my story to understand what is happening to me.

Fernando Balius was a perfectly ordinary, if misunderstood, young adult—until he started hearing voices.

In Traces of Madness, Fernando describes what it feels like, both mentally and physically, to lose your grip on reality. His life spins out of control when the voices he hears inside his head, depicted in the narrative as a monster, work to destroy his self-esteem and, worse, urge him to hurt himself. Various psychiatric diagnoses and prescribed medications do more harm than good, prompting Fernando to question whether stifling his voices is truly the right path for him. Throughout his experiences, he finds that his connections with others lend him the strength to survive.

Mario Pellejer’s moving illustrations bring Nando’s remarkable story to life. This raw and uniquely hopeful graphic memoir shows the power of community and understanding and encourages us all to push back in solidarity against the pervasive stigma surrounding mental illness.

“An emotionally and intellectually gripping account of one voice-hearer’s painful but life-affirming journey through a discouraging, ineffective mental health system—and the conflicted reactions of loved ones—toward growing understanding and acceptance. The heartbreaking but inspiring honesty and the simple but vivid graphics are, in combination, truly magnificent.”
“The captivating text and images contained within this important book convey an often maligned and misunderstood human experience with profound insight and touching honesty. I loved it.”

Fernando Balius is a philosopher and a contingent worker. He has taken part in various social movements over the last two decades, about the same amount of time that he has been considering the relationship between madness and society. His favorite place to think is on a bike.

Mario Pellejer describes himself as a “graphic storyteller” rather than an illustrator. He uses simple drawings full of symbolism to tell genuine stories as a way of contributing something of value to the world.