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by David B.

Epileptic reviews
Critic Score
Metascore: 92 Metascore out of 100
User Score  
6.5 out of 10
based on 15 reviews
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based on 14 votes
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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

ISBN: 0375423184

Biographies & Memoirs

Translated from French by Kim Thompson. Originally published in France as "L'Ascension du Haut Mal."

What The Critics Said

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...

Booklist Gordon Flagg
This powerful graphic novel launches a series that promises to set an ambitious new standard for autobiographical comics. [Jul 2002, p.1812]
Kirkus Reviews
An unromantic, heartrending tale, wrapped in a cloak of nightmares. [1 Dec 2004, p.1117]
Publishers Weekly
This is truly a remarkable and powerful piece of comics narration. [3 Jun 2002, p.67]
San Francisco Chronicle Charles Solomon
"Epileptic" reveals how powerful the graphic novel form can be in the hands of a talented artist.
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The New York Times Book Review Rick Moody
In short, ''Epileptic'' constitutes something new: a graphic intellectual history.
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Daily Telegraph Helen Brown
A staggeringly original work of real power.
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The Globe And Mail [Toronto] Nathalie Atkinson
At times, the translation lacks the finesse of the original French, particularly in awkward passages that fail to capture the poetic lilt or subtle humour of the original idiom. But David B.'s rich visual tapestry, a personal archeology steeped in psychology, philosophy and history, transcends the limitations of language and transforms Epileptic into a masterpiece of the medium. [5 Feb 2005, p.D13]
The Guardian Ian Sansom
As a work of evisceration, as a ripping and widening of the soul, and as an honest appeal to the self and to the great, yawning emptiness that you might call God, or you might call the Other, or you might indeed call the Reader, there shall probably be no more profound a work published this year than David B's Epileptic.
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The Spectator Tony Gould
A comic tour de force that is as emotionally gut-wrenching as it is visually stunning.
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Houston Chronicle Andrew Dansby
It is a vision fully realized, a story beautifully structured and compellingly human.
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Washington Post Chris Lehmann
The dark, antic panels of Epileptic render a richly allusive, harrowing and oddly redemptive world.
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The Independent Charles Shaar Murray
Epileptic is by no means an easy read in any possible sense.
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The Onion A.V. Club Tasha Robinson
Epileptic somewhat resembles Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis books in style and execution; David B.'s art is far more varied and more sophisticated, but it shares some of Satrapi's dense black-and-white impressionism, and his detailed reportage on his family history, contemporaneous politics, and his internal struggles with anger and helplessness all seem hauntingly familiar.
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Los Angeles Times Laurel Maury
Like "Maus," "Ghost World" and "Persepolis," "Epileptic" deals honestly with violence, class, racism and sheer cruelty. [2 Jan 2005, p.R6]
Entertainment Weekly Marc Bernardin
Epileptic is honest, sometimes to a fault, and perceptive, especially about a kid's view of disease.
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What Our Users Said

Vote Now!The average user rating for this book is 6.5 (out of 10) based on 14 User Votes
Note: User votes are NOT included in the Metascore calculation.

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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