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Epileptic (L'Ascension du Haut Mal #1-6 omnibus)

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,726 Ratings  ·  500 Reviews
The most acclaimed European graphic novel of the last ten years is finally published in English. The most acclaimed European graphic novel of the 1990s, Epileptic is author David B.'s story of his brother's battle with epilepsy—but it turns into a penetrating and sometimes lacerating self-examination on the author's part, as he delves into his own complex emotions and his ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 2002)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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R. C.
Feb 28, 2010 R. C. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Throughout history epileptics have been maligned. Even today they are mistreated in hospitals and misunderstood by community members. A lifelong epileptic having focal seizures (a type that are not generally known by laypeople like ER admissions staff), I have developed a defensive anger that hops up and shouts, or would, if the seizures didn't make thinking and moving like wading through pea soup.

This book is an amazing work of art. The story of the artist's youth with an epileptic brother is n
Tony Diaz
Oct 27, 2012 Tony Diaz rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphicnovels
David B's "Epileptic" turns out to be a frustrating read for some of us with epilepsy. I respect the author's experience, but shudder at the idea of the inexperienced forming conclusions about epileptics based on his feelings toward his brother (presented as "the" titular, as if exemplary, epileptic). More personally, B's exasperation with his brother chimes with the desperate denial I know I sometimes engage in in the face of an onrushing seizure: I can overcome it if I just fight the shocks an ...more
Jubilation Lee
Was I too stupid to appreciate this book, friends?

I ask, because it exhausted me. It exhausted me, and I didn’t like it. Much. At all.

But people I trust (Mariel!) have given it high ratings, and it makes me worried that what I mistook for endless pages of hubris and heavy-handed pretentious asshattery and an inability to tell a story in any sort of sensical (is this a word?) order is actually depth and skill and poetry and I was just too dumb to see it.

Because for me, the reading experience cons
Rupert Dreyfus
Sep 27, 2015 Rupert Dreyfus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
Comic books are a bit like video games insofar as they have been dogged by a stereotype of nerds with spiky hair bashing control pads, high fiving and using expressions like 'cowabunga, doooood'. I don't indulge in either that much, but I have enough experience to know that the crème de la crème of the mediums are credible (this basically means that I sometimes read comics and play GTA V...).

I'll begin by saying that this is a deeply personal story which makes it all the more of an accomplishmen
Sep 12, 2007 Bryan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Graphic memoir, what a popular and critically successful genre for comics these days. This book belongs on a shelf with Blankets and Persepolis: A strange and exceptional childhood illustrated in a way that reveals emotional perceptions through cartooning. Though Epileptic is far worse than Thompson's and Satrapi's books.

The story is profoundly interesting, a family deals with the epilepsy of their oldest childest by diving into various fringe New Age practices in France from the late 60's and
Mar 24, 2008 A rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2008
Unquestionably the worst comic book I have ever read, and among the worst books (period) that I have ever had the displeasure of having suffered through. Pretentious, long-winded, uninteresting conceptually and plot-wise, excruciatingly scattered and disjointed (in the WRONG way), and completely amateurish and one-trick when it comes to the drawing style. This looks and reads like (and may actually contain?) the immature student sketches of someone who might someday perhaps maybe grow into a gre ...more
One of the self imposed criterea I use for deciding how many starts I'm going to give something is how often I think of the content, the characters, the art etc after I've read it.
This one has come to mind a lot. While the story is mainly about David B's epileptic brother it is also very much about siblings and family roles, it's also about how people try, desperately to impose control and order in life.

I felt alternately sorry for and irritated with the parents and worried endlessly about both
May 29, 2016 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stopped reading this one over a year ago, after about the first 100 pages. It just didn't click with me. After reading some of David B.'s other work, and really enjoying it, I decided to reconsider this work considered his magnum opus.

I still don't like the beginning but it really does pick up steam and begin to have a point beyond just a simple biography of a boy and his epileptic brother.

I loved the art - I don't think there's enough symbolism in comics. Many artists just show literal even
Feb 15, 2015 Beatrice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Sped through this one. A beautifully told story, dark and honest, ultimately disturbing but moving. David B. offers us a look into his life and with it, his vulnerability. The hardship that comes with living with a family member who is epileptic is portrayed poignantly here. Complete with symbology and haunting drawings, this one will stay with me.
Feb 09, 2008 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven't yet read enough graphic novel memoirs to be able to say this with any authority, but this must be one of the most intense and tragic works the genre has produced (if it isn't, I'm not sure I could handle the others). The immediate story that "Epileptic" tells is that of the effect on the author and his family of his brother's Epilepsy – the impact it has on their education, ambitions, careers; the many doctors, quacks, and fake spiritual gurus they placed their faith in over the years ...more
Fredrik Strömberg
Having read this book for the second time, due to it being released recently in Sweden, there are two things that comes to mind. Firstly that this is one of the best, if not THE best autobiographical graphic novel ever created; a book truly deserving five stars in rating if there ever was one. It's intricate, intelligent and intellectual, and at the same time intimate, emotional and highly personal. A tour de force in showing what you can achieve through the media of comics, both in narrative an ...more
Feb 22, 2014 Angela rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
A long, hallucinatory autobiography, centered around on the author's brother - who suffers from epilepsy - and the family's attempts at finding a cure. Takes place in 1960s-2000s France, with some flashbacks to the world wars and the war in Algeria.

Overall, I didn't like it very much. While it was initially interesting to learn about the 1960s upbringing - steeped, as it was, in esoteric quasi-cults, psychoanalysis, and fantastic realism - I wearied and grew frustrated. After the family's nth at
Matthew Gilboy
the only prior experience i brought to this reading of a graphic novel was 'jimmy corrigan: the smartest boy in the world,' which is why amazon recommended it to me. ultimately, i think that the genre is all that connects them. this book is much more intimate, personal, passionate, and chilling. all things 'smartest' wanted to be but only got 4/5's of the way there.

i myself am an epileptic and there are fewer diseases that this book relates to than just ones that are 'out of control.' the effec
Nov 28, 2015 Lara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, yelch
I thought this came across as rather hostile to people with epilepsy, not to mention self-indulgent as hell. Essentially, David B. claims epilepsy ruined his childhood--not his brother's--because it was stressful for him and his sister. His sister's writing the preface instead of his brother is rather telling. He goes on and on about how difficult his childhood was for HIM and even talks very frankly about how he abused his brother: provoking seizures when he was mad at Jean-Christophe, slapping ...more
Jan 04, 2014 Sapainca42 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Epileptic is a sad account of how the author's life was shaped by his brother's epilepsy. David B. is an exceptional illustrator and writer - he draws human portraits of his characters, and conveys his personal struggles remarkably well. As an epileptic, I appreciated the way Epileptic portrayed Jean-Christophe's helplessness during a seizure. David's style is consistent with magical realism as fantastical elements - including the monster of epilepsy and his grandfather's spirit - are beautifull ...more
Cameron Johnson
I picked up this book purely for the title: Epileptic. As someone with epilepsy, diagnosed in my teens, I thought it would be interesting to read someone's story about their experiences with it, as literature featuring epilepsy is hard to find. I was surprised to find out that the author did not have epilepsy, but it was in fact his brother.

My mixed feelings about this book are directly related to my own feelings as someone with epilepsy. The author's brother is depicted as the eye of the storm
Seth T.
Jul 25, 2011 Seth T. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
I’ve known several people over the years who’ve suffered on and off (usually more off than on) from seizures of one sort or another. Fortune favouring me over them, I’ve never witnessed an episode and have only heard tales secondhand. I have however witnessed several faintings. The two are not really at all comparable save for the definitive theft of control from their victims. So while I’ve never witnessed an epileptic event, I am suitably horrified by the possibility.

Every person values contro
Feb 21, 2016 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
I'm stunned. Having just put "Epileptic" down after a marathon non-stop reading session, I can say that David B. has most graphically captured the essence of the struggle one faces with Epilepsy. Epilepsy treats its victims in varied ways. For some, like me, it crops up intermittently...leaves its imprint then disappears only to catch me unaware at another inopportune time. My last seizure was while watching the Super Bowl, second quarter...go figure! David B's brother, Jean Christophe, suffers ...more
Dec 15, 2011 joey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A wistful, melancholy, tender memoir about having and loving and hating a sick sibling whose sickness overwhelms. It is about growing up in a shadow, about vicarious responsibility and guilt, about losing and finding family, about imagination and art.
With fierce honesty about his ambivalence, David B. fully exploits the graphic novel as medium to tear the superficial, factual skin off of memory to reveal the messy, beautiful reality of the fear and hope of childhood.
Gorgeously drawn memoir about the author's childhood around 1970. Many many many frameable pages.

I'm curious how prevalent the philosophical/alternative medicine/communal culture/guru-based stuff was in the larger culture in France - or was it just David's parents who got into that stuff? His parents are elusive characters - I found myself wondering about their sex lives.

Although constructed around his brother's epilepsy, I found myself most interested in other characters in the narrative. Als
Dave Riley
Nov 24, 2013 Dave Riley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
I suppose I could blame the indulgences of this autobiographical graphic novel on its Gallicness. It's obsessions are way too exotic for me. Excessive detailing of occult and spiritualism excused as being yet another therapy quest to cure epilepsy.

But why do I have to put up with it?

David B's brother is acutely epileptic and his penchant for ready seizures dominate the family, warping its relationships and sentencing it to always deferring to his illness.

I can relate to that. I know that happen
Aug 06, 2013 Ziqi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This graphic novel left me in awe--it was a memoir full of imagination. The story circles around the author's family and their struggles with their eldest son's (Jean-Christophe) epilepsy. The trials and tribulations are depicted with heartbreaking honesty, but the author interweaves sub-naratives sprung from his fantastic imagination. The creatures he draws and the atmosphere he creates remind me of the film Spirited Away (there's definitely a strong cinematic quality about this comic). And tha ...more
Dane Cobain
May 28, 2013 Dane Cobain rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 th
Feb 09, 2011 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphicnovels
There are graphic novels that are wonderful and then there are graphic novels that transcend the genre and take it to a whole new level. This memoir by French artist and graphic novelist David B. is about growing up in a family with an elder brother who has severe epilepsy. The family try conventional medicine and doctors without much luck in reducing the severity of seizures. Desperate to find an answer, David's parents try a wide range of alternate methods to help their child from macrobiotic ...more
Eli Bishop
Sep 13, 2010 Eli Bishop rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the strangest and most memorable approach to autobiographical comics I've seen, this is a story about the author, his older brother and younger sister and parents, and how they were affected by the brother's incurable epilepsy. David B. tells it and tells it, using everything at his disposal: childhood obsessions and dream images, long tangents about every other branch of the family, the history of macrobiotics and spiritualism, his present-day family's reaction to the ongoing book... e ...more
The two strengths of this book that stood out to me the entire way through were its brutal honesty and its use of visually busy fantastic (in the sense of fantasy or magic[al realism]) enhancements to complement the autobiographical narrative.

Growing up in a family so consumed and exhausted by the countless attempts to cure their eldest child's illness causes many complex and hard-to-admit emotions and side effects. David B. shares his memories and feelings of contempt, empathy, pity, love, and
Dec 29, 2007 Constantine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why, but recently I've been gravitating towards tales (or memoirs) featuring epilepsy. I haven't really been searching it out, it just happens. This was as harrowing as it was uplifting (but not in that Disney "uplifting" way).

Since its a graphic novel, I can review the art as well. I felt the art was too "graphic-designy" at times, but always solid. The story is so engrossing that whatever problems I may or may not have had with the art are easily eclipsed by the honesty of what a
Feb 11, 2010 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was ready (more than ready) for this book to end. The author drags us through his tortuous childhood spent with an older brother who was epileptic. There is search after futile search for healing and the author grows more and more calloused after each therapy fails. His drawings become darker and darker until the end, when he draws a series of desperate nightmares . . . and then the book basically ends.

The artistry was phenomenal, however, and for that I gave it an extra star. If my second gr
Sep 27, 2015 Sal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The type of graphic novel that raises the bar (and the form). Anyone who could read "Epileptic" or Craig Thompson's "Blankets" and still think a graphic novel is not literature is foolish.
Oct 21, 2009 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In certain ways it this the best graphic memoir I have ever read. The graphical form is somehow perfectly suited to the first person, and the delirium of this memoir perfectly exploits that potential. But David B. is the worst kind of megalomaniac, both honest and lonely. At one point his character declares himself the family's "genius". There are possibly 30 different depictions of the covers of other of the authors books in the pages of this one. But somehow the twisted, unsparing, phantasmago ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #86 Epileptic by David B. 1 3 Jun 25, 2015 08:03PM  
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Pierre-François Beauchard, who uses the pen name David B., was one of the initiators of the French alternative editorial house L'Association, and is now well-known among the French comics audience. After his Applied Arts studies, David B. had his first publications in magazines such as Chic, Circus, Okapi and A Suivre. Among his early creations are 'Le Timbre Maudit', a story published in Okapi, a ...more
More about David B....

Other Books in the Series

L'Ascension du Haut Mal (6 books)
  • L'Ascension du haut mal, tome 1
  • L'Ascension du haut mal, tome 2
  • L'Ascension du haut mal, tome 3
  • L'Ascension du haut mal, tome 4
  • L'Ascension du haut mal, tome 5
  • L'Ascension du haut mal, tome 6

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“You can't sit next to me doing nothing while I'm trying desperately to save myself by doing something.” 8 likes
“There is a rage inside me that I mitigate with my constant drawing.” 5 likes
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