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Epileptic [Hardcover]

David B
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 Jan 2005
Hailed by The Comics Journal as one of Europe’s most important and innovative comics artists, David B. has created a masterpiece in Epileptic, his stunning and emotionally resonant autobiography about growing up with an epileptic brother. Epileptic gathers together and makes available in English for the first time all six volumes of the internationally acclaimed graphic work.

David B. was born Pierre-François Beauchard in a small town near Orléans, France. He spent an idyllic early childhood playing with the neighborhood kids and, along with his older brother, Jean-Christophe, ganging up on his little sister, Florence. But their lives changed abruptly when Jean-Christophe was struck with epilepsy at age eleven. In search of a cure, their parents dragged the family to acupuncturists and magnetic therapists, to mediums and macrobiotic communes. But every new cure ended in disappointment as Jean-Christophe, after brief periods of remission, would only get worse.

Angry at his brother for abandoning him and at all the quacks who offered them false hope, Pierre-François learned to cope by drawing fantastically elaborate battle scenes, creating images that provide a fascinating window into his interior life. An honest and horrifying portrait of the disease and of the pain and fear it sowed in the family, Epileptic is also a moving depiction of one family’s intricate history. Through flashbacks, we are introduced to the stories of Pierre-François’s grandparents and we relive his grandfathers’ experiences in both World Wars. We follow Pierre-François through his childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, all the while charting his complicated relationship with his brother and Jean-Christophe”s losing battle with epilepsy. Illustrated with beautiful and striking black-and-white images, Epileptic is as astonishing, intimate, and heartbreaking as the best literary memoir.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books (31 Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375423184
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375423185
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 17.3 x 3.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 389,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


...Epileptic illustrates both the horrible density of reality and the vast possibilities of the human imagination -- Ian Samson, the Guardian

...bursting with energy and wild imaginings, a comic tour de force that is as emotionally gut-wrenching as it is stunning... -- Tony Gould, Spectator

a staggeringly original work of real power...astonishing -- Helen Brown, Daily Telegraph

reveal[s] a formidable talent and demonstrates the potential of a medium usually populated by superheroes and anthropomorphic mice -- David Thompson, Observer

the effect is spellbinding... -- Chris Power, BBC Collective --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A stunning, award-winning graphic memoir about growing up with an epileptic brother. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly expressive use of comic strip. 23 Jun 2005
I've read a good number of 'serious' comic strips during my time and this is surely up there with some of the best.
It describes in great detail the experiences of the author growing up with his epileptic brother and the struggle that his family goes through in order to deal with it. From macrobiotics to voodoo, they try everything under the sun to find a cure and the reader is lead through a bizarre world of faith healers and alternative medicines. The book also deals with the author's own artistic development and his struggle to find his self-expression through his comics.
The book is long and sprawling and lacks some of the structural finesse found in say, Art Spieglman's benchmark "MAUS". However it makes up for this in sheer artistic expression. I've never read a comic strip wherein the author has managed to convey so much emotion and meaning through just the images. In virtually every frame of the book the author has drawn his concepts into the images without any need to express them in text. What's more, the reader can see the pictures evolving from one page to another as the author's line of thought develops and follows new avenues.
In style I think the closest thing that I have read that resembles this would be Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli's adaptation of "City Of Glass", however "Epileptic" is much the superior and doesn't share any of frustrating vagueness of "City Of Glass".
My only negative criticism of the book would be that it is a little too drawn out in places and gets a bit angst ridden towards the end.
All in all I would highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates quality comic strip or anyone who just wants to try something a bit different.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally monochrome 12 Nov 2012
Over-long, this might have gained from being split into chapters. A comic with chapters? Well, that tells you the problem - one that didn't afflict Marjane Satrapi and Alison Bechdel. For all its power ('my armo[u]r is the night'), for all the undoubted graphic energy, it's a teensy bit turgid. All honour to Cape for issuing it (their list is not enough celebrated) but I think this is one for the history books, and for fellow practitioners to drool over. Maybe I should have rephrased that..
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning 1 April 2005
Comics or "Graphic Novels" are having a bit of a revival of late and whilst it can be easy to find fault with medium that's en vogue it really is about time Comics got a little attention. Still however, they've not gone far enough to be trusted as serious art, I'm not going to elaborate on this though because it's probably the most tired essay subject in the universe, just pick up any Comic published or re-issued in the last 10 years and you will undoubtedly find a foreword on the merit of comics as an art form, hell, you can even read Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics if you want to read a whole comic on the subject. Yet despite all this insistence people only seem willing to concede some comics are art, and fewer masterpieces, Maus, The Watchmen et al. you can find a listmania on Amazon if you're interested, it would take a very brave man to look for intellectual brownie points by singing the praises of lesser known and appreciated comics.
Singing the praises of this book isn't actually particularly brave, it's not that well known due it being french and it won't be as easy to get as any of the aformentioned classics but it has become more well known and appreciated in the last year. Part 1 topped a lot of peoples lists for 'best comic of 2003' and I imagine the complete version, Part 1 & 2 together, only recently published in english, will be topping 2005s editions of the same list. It's all Justified. This is a sprawling work of fantastic imagination as we're lead through the unorthodox childhood of the author, his becoming of an artist, his private fantasy world and the his dealings with his brothers terrible epilepsy the kernel about which all other themes circle.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything In Black & White 27 July 2006
A moving, skewed and uncompromising memoir of a comics writer's formative years, drawing violent stories as a vent for his anger at his elder brother's affliction with 'the falling disease'. Humorously scathing of the doctors and alternative therapies their parents sought help from and richly evocative of the energy and concerns of youth, David B also manages to capture the true throughline, imagery and logic of dreams and nightmares. Recommended.
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