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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 3 March 2016
A truly amazing book - This should be on curriculum - they say fact is stranger than fiction. This is book is the proof.
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on 14 November 2015
Great book !
Gripping story actually and artwork went with the story really well adding to atmosphere
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on 27 May 2016
The book is very interesting, but the items were not strong packaged and the right corner of the books are a little bit damaged.
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on 13 January 2016
Absolutely amazing. Masterpiece. Although not collectible edition, the copy is very decent with nice paper (paperback).
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on 1 April 2013
Quite simply one of the best graphic novels I've ever read (and I've read a fair few). Deals with complex themes explored in a fascinating and candid way and the illustrative style is phenomenal.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 February 2018
“The adults don’t teach us much and when they do its garbage. We have to find out everything for ourselves. For example, it’s only when I climb over the wall at the end of the alley that I discover the devil’s house.”

This is the story of the author’s older brother, Jean-Christophe who was born with severe epilepsy. But not only that, our guide takes back into the history of his family, recreating some fascinating accounts of the various struggles from his ancestors, from Indochina to WWI and being a farmer in rural France. As he explains at one point, “Our ancestors were locked in a constant struggle to escape their misery…What interests me is the struggle against disease and death”

This is a book that juggles the light and the dark throughout, and there are many times when you are not sure if you should be laughing or crying at what’s happening. It’s hard not to sympathise with the parents as we follow them on their desperate search for a cure for their severely epileptic son, they come across, gurus, psychics, and other charlatans along the way. The family spend a number of spells at a dubious microbiotic commune, where they insist on 100 chews when eating your food, ensuring that there is a greater likelihood of you getting arthritis of the jaw than gaining spiritual enlightenment.

Exorcism, acupuncture, magnetism, alchemy and spiritism, are just some of the techniques tried and tested. His dad lapsed into various forms of Esotericism, leading to him converting their garage into a Rosicrucian church, for a brief spell, but he soon changed his mind.

B employs a number of left turns in his work, like the use of Metafiction, which allows us to get a closer understanding of his intentions. His art work evokes the constant anxiety and the full horror of living under the long, dark shadow of having someone so close to you suffer, enduring the tyranny of a chronic and serious health condition. B succeeds in translating the full weight of despair and loneliness he and his family endure and it can make for uncomfortable reading, which is credit to his writing. We see how our author is haunted by strange dreams and stalked by the nightmarish constraints and uncertainty his brother’s illness imposes upon the household and everyone within it.
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on 15 February 2017
This graphic autobiography explores David B's life growing up with an epileptic brother. What started out as an idyllic childhood playing on the streets of France with his brother, Jean-Christophe, and sister, Florence, quickly turned into a life of anger and frustration when Jean-Christophe is diagnosed with epilepsy. David and his siblings are dragged from place to place as his parents search for a cure, which always ends in disappointment.

David's account is touching and incredibly honest. The way he talks about his feelings towards his brother is both brutal and compelling. I have to say I was impressed by the sheer openness. However, it didn't do anything to improve my understanding of the illness. As he himself wasn't afflicted by it, I'm not convinced David himself truly understood either (although it is interesting to look at an illness from the viewpoint of someone who is affected but not afflicted by it). The story is also quite difficult to follow in parts. The time frames jump regularly but in no particular pattern and usually without warning. I struggled to understand the relevance of some of the stories he included. The book is much longer than it needs to be.

That being said, this is of course a graphic novel and is therefore driven by images rather than words - a thing a graphic novel newbie like me struggles with. I did not find the images particularly skilful or attractive to look at, which I think is the main reason I did not get on very well with this book. The characters look the roughly the same throughout, which made understanding their age and progression almost impossible. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who does not already have a strong interest in either epilepsy or graphic novels.
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on 28 May 2013
Epileptic is the seminal work by David Beauchard, the French writer better known as `David B.' Described as a `six-volume autobiographical epic', Epileptic tells the story of David's relationship with his brother, and of his brother's struggles with epilepsy.

Originally split in to six volumes that were published in France between 1996 and 2003, Epileptic was originally titled `L'Ascension du Haut Mal' and was quickly published in English, going on to receive critical acclaim and winning David the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Artist. Publishers Weekly called it"one of the greatest graphic novels ever published."

And it's easy to see why - David's black and white drawings are instantly haunting, from the moment you first inspect the cover. There's surrealism throughout, twisted faces looming from the shadows in his memory and demons that symbolise his brother's epilepsy.

The narrative is heart-warming but tragic, focused on David's childhood and adolescence as he watches his brother's condition deteriorate. Their parents try everything, even moving to a macrobiotic commune, but nothing seems to help.

Epileptic has survived translation remarkably well, and that transition enabled the book to gain transatlantic appeal. Ironically, the title itself was the only thing lost in translation - confused? Let me explain...

The original title, `L'Ascension du Haut Mal', literally means `The Rise of the High Evil'. The thing is, it has multiple meanings in French - `haut mal' is an out-dated term for epilepsy that literally means `high evil' or `great sickness', and `ascension' can either mean `rise' or `climb'. This second meaning is reflected throughout the story in the images of the family climbing steep slopes in search of a cure that doesn't exist.

At its simplest, Epileptic is about the bond between brothers. You really feel for Beauchard and his family - this is a novel that's written as well as it's illustrated. Epileptic might not be perfect if you're looking for something to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but if you want something to grab at the heartstrings and pull them, get a copy now.
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on 23 June 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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on 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. Davids private world is beautifully drawn in a sort of ancient tapestry style using wads of sharp black ink which perfectly reflects the childishness yet seriousness of the dark visions he has. Davids inner world is, filled symbolism, that you can't put your finger on, but that fleshes out the whole feel of the book. The outer world is of course very real and sometimes distorted by David's point of view, the epilepsy haunts his brother and him as a giant chinese dragon. It's just stunning, it's a coming of age story, mixed in estericism and disease. It's certainly not catering for anyone in a similar situation, but I do think parents of epileptic children would get benefit out of reading it. It's stunning, my favourite comic, fantastical, heart-breaking, oh yeah, and very french.
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