The acclaimed autobiograhpical graphic novel by David B. (aka Pierre-François Beauchard) gets a belated English-language translation and publication, after originally surfacing in his native France as a six-volume series in the 1990s. The author is a founding member of the French cartoonist group L’Association.
Pantheon, 368 pages
Biographies & Memoirs
Translated from French by Kim Thompson. Originally published in France as "L'Ascension du Haut Mal."
All reviews are classified as one of five grades: Outstanding (4 points), Favorable (3), Mixed (2), Unfavorable (1) and Terrible (0). To calculate the Metascore, we divide total points achieved by the total points possible (i.e., 4 x the number of reviews), with the resulting percentage (multiplied by 100) being the Metascore. Learn more...
Jamie S gave it a10:
Epic, deep, yet unpretentious story of a family dealing with disease, and not dealing with their real inner problems. Makes the usual autobiographical comics I read appear superficial and immature by comparison in sophistication of design, and maturity of theme, and emotional content. B is extremely perceptive and sensitive, and does not sell his experience short as north american autobio comics artsts have so often done. He is extremely well read in fantasy, esotericism, and I suspect psychoanalysis. I haven't enjoyed a comic so much since I first discovered Gilbert Hernandez.
James T gave it a10:
Gripping biography of a family using macrobiotics to treat epilepsy. Written by little brother, the pictures and the child's point of view bring this world to light.
Ed D gave it a4:
This is my first review on this site... I don't enjoy giving a low score, but I feel compelled to. I picked the book up b/c I have epilepsy and had also previously never read a graphic novel. I'm left disspointed by weak storytelling and attempts at high-brow symbolism through the depiction of the author's dreams (there are probably a dozen... these really get annoying by the end). There may be an element of this symbolism that some find artistic... the illustrations definintly do have great style... but I came away regretful that I had purchased the book and invested the time. It will read fast if you dont take my word and want to take a shot.
[Anonymous] gave it a7:
epileptic was a very slow book filled with little autobiographical details but hardly anything that sets it apart. it was very beautifully illustrated and explained conflicts within himself and between his brother using rich metaphors ie. the armor and the beasts. the story has the potential to be extremely beautiful and melancholy but alas, it drags on way too long and fails to evoke any emotion from the reader.
David H gave it a10:
As someone with epilepsy who has been through similar circumstances as described in the graphic novel, this autobiography was revealing, touching and emotional. David B's excellent art is complemented by an equally strong and gripping story.
Alfred Nonymous gave it a2:
Vastly overrated and pretentious, Epileptic author David B. should search out a writing for dummies guide, for learning the basics of engaging STORYtelling. For Epileptic abounds with rich images, but its prose and ideas are sloppy and uninteresting. Dont' believe the hype!
Sinnae C. gave it an8:
Surely a staggering achievement in both range and detail, "Epileptic" is a vast and visually intricate history of one boy's childhood growing up with an epileptic brother. David B.'s narration includes both the family's history (focusing on their neverending search for a cure) in cool factual detail and also the author's fantasies, dreams and nightmares drawn in an effectively dramatic style. Meanwhile, the reader also observes the gradual but obvious changes taking place in the world around the family as various health fads are tried and abandoned and the narrator grows older and comes to understand more. The author doesn't skimp on the little details that lend realism to the story either, choosing to include fully fleshed out battle scenes and totemic representations of his ancestors' spirits, additions that play an important part in allowing the reader to fully comprehend the author's fears and difficulties as a child. Although a thoroughly engrossing book and especially worthy of praise due to its innovative usage of a medium previously relegated to the ranks of disposable entertainment (with only a few notable exceptions), the reader may feel overwhelmed at times by the denseness of David B.'s line drawings, and by the length and precision with which the author tells his story. "Epileptic" is a great personal achievement especially when viewed in conjunction with the painstaking pen & ink drawings, but the experience is undeniably taxing on the reader from time to time. The book comes highly recommended for those interested in the graphic novel medium, or anyone who is simply looking for an exhausting, touching and well-concluded read.
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