By Daniel Vlasaty
I had no idea what to expect when diving into this book. I picked it up based solely on the cover and the title, and that fact that it had been serialized in Island, although I didn’t find that out until I started doing a little research on the book. A Land of Tarot is a “silent” book, meaning there are no text bubbles or narration at all. The story is told only through the artwork.
And the artwork is amazing. Just truly beautiful and detailed and expansive. On each page and in each panel there are countless little details. So many things, and even after going through the book three times, I’m still sure I missed some things.
Being a “silent” book, it’s a fast read. I read it three times in a row and all together that only took about 30 minutes or so. The first time I went through the book I was just trying to get through it, rushing probably. The second time was for the story. And the third time was for the art.
Even after three times the actual story is hard to decipher. This is a hero’s quest book, heavy fantasy, full of adventure and magic and science. There are strange landscapes and even stranger creatures, human/animal hybrids, flora/fauna hybrids. The story could take place on our world, after some cataclysmic event or it could be an entirely different world all together.
Other than that I can’t really tell you what the book is “about.” Partially because I don't want to ruin it for you and partially because I don't know.
And in all honesty, that should drive me crazy. Usually it would. It doesn’t here though. The book just works.
I got back into comics in 2010-ish, and for a long time I was more of a story-guy. I could deal with bad art if the writing and the story were good enough. Then as I started to get more familiar with the names attached to books (it had been probably more than a decade since I had regularly read comic books) I started to focus more on the art. The story was still important to me, but now the art was equally so. And that’s pretty much where I’m still at today, where most comic books readers are at, I’ll assume. I will read a book with only okay art if the story is amazing and on the flip side I’ll read a book with great art and a so-so story.
A Land Called Tarot is probably a book I would recommend more for the art than the story. The story’s good, don’t get me wrong, but I would say it’s probably not for everyone. If you’re the type of reader that needs everything laid bare in front of your, then I’d suggest skipping this. But if you like to be challenged, story-wise, I think you really enjoy trying to decipher this little book.
And if nothing else, I mean the art’s amazing. It’s probably some of the best I’ve seen in a while and I’m not really into fantasy comics all that much. They’re not my usual choice. But I am glad I picked this book up. It’s one that I think I will return to again and again, and each time I’m sure I’ll find something new that I missed previous times.
This book is tricky and complex and frustrating at times but it works if you just let yourself get lost in this amazing world Bertrand has created.
A Land Called Tarot
Writer/Artist: Gael Bertrand
Publisher: Image Comics