Comics aren't always very easy to read. No matter how skilled the artist is, sometimes it's difficult to make out what's really going on in the pages, the dialogue isn't always easy to follow, you can't always be sure in what order you're supposed to look at the images or read the text, and many of the best comics really demand you to concentrate hard and really focus on what you're doing.
But, if you're willing to do just that and not give up easily, a well-drawn and well-written comic can be a truly amazing experience. And A Bit of Madness is just that. Frenchman Emmanuel Civiello's incredible fantasy epic in four chapters was initially published by Heavy Metal magazine, but now Checker Book Publishing Group has, fortunately, decided to publish all four chapters in one single volume. The format is oversize, 23 x 32 centimetres, and that's a size that fits Civiello's work, because I've rarely seen such a well-drawn comic. The images really are incredibly beautiful, and the large format makes the experience unusually intense. This truly is art at its best.
However, it's not an easy read. But it's worth a try. Inspired by, among others, J.R.R. Tolkien and Celtic mythology, Civiello has created an epic fantasy adventure where we follow Igguk, an elf chosen to save his homeworld from a horde of demons bent on destructing everything light and beautiful. Accompanied by, among others, a troll with a speech impediment and a human sorceress, Igguk finds himself in a bunch of strange situations; all the while looking for The Heart of the Crystal, which is the only thing that can save his world.
Well, to be truly honest, I didn't always quite understand everything that happened, but I didn't mind that much, since the beautiful images and interesting dialogue made it worthwhile to re-read pages I never understood. Civiello has, by all rights, been praised for his creation, and I wouldn't mind a bit having some of his images enlarged, framed, and put up on my walls.
A Bit of Madness is an incredibly beautiful comic, both exciting and funny from time to time, but beware, it might a difficult read to people not used to complex comics.