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Epileptic

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

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  12,748 ratings  ·  639 reviews
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 wo ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published July 4th 2005 by Pantheon (first published 2002)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,748 ratings  ·  639 reviews


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David Schaafsma
One of the great graphic books, the story of David B.'s brother's diagnosis of epilepsy in the seventies. You feel the desperation and despair of the family as the seek cure after cure to no avail (My son has autism and I felt the same desperation and despair). Another key aspect of the book is David's attempts to capture his brother's experience of seizures in artistic terms, with amazing black and white drawing. Dark, sad, and thrilling.
R. C.
Feb 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Tony Diaz
May 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Melki
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Whew! The artist's account of growing up with his epileptic brother was so brutally honest, I had to repeatedly put the book down, and walk away. This is not a situation that I've had to deal with, but I can well imagine how trying it must have been. David does not shy away from expressing the feelings of anger and hatred he had toward his brother for constantly disrupting the family.

This was tough going, but well worth the effort.
Laura
Feb 18, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yuck, memoir
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
A
Mar 22, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Rupert Dreyfus
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Bryan
Sep 12, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-library
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
...more
J & J
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I connect to this in many ways. This book was refreshing because it made me feel less alone and less misunderstood.
Loretta
The three stars are for the beautiful art work.

As for the rest of the text, it is titled Epileptic. This graphic memoir begins with images of David B. and his brother, Jean-Christophe, as adults. David B. notes the ravages that epilepsy has wrought on his brother's body. Then, he quickly takes his readers into their shared past. He describes their play, their obsessions, their readings in stark and beautiful black and white panels. Then Jean-Christophe begins to experience more and more seizure
...more
Cameron
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
...more
Michelle
Honestly, reading this made me feel so uncomfortable. I understand that this work is approximately 15 years old, so the dialogue surrounding disability is VERY different than it is today, but David B's recounting of his life with an older brother with severe epilepsy read (to me) like a very harmful ableist narrative.

Before I continue, I want to mention that there was SOME of what David said that resonated with me. I have a husband who's been chronically ill for the past two years (and undiagnos
...more
Ana
Visually stunning
Matthew Gilboy
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Michael Scott
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
To-do full review:
About: Epileptic is the memoir of Pierre-François Beauchard (David B.), tracing the tragic life of his family as it tries to work around his brother's severe epilepsy. You cannot like a drama like this, but also you can't deny this is a masterpiece of the genre. (Same as for Maus.) All in all, you'd like a copy for your library.

The story is heart-breaking. Born in a normal, bit happy-go-lucky family, where Pierre-François (Fafou, later David) is the youngest boy and Florence i
...more
Andrew
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Beatrice
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Seth T.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Angela
Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
...more
John
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Malbadeen
Apr 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Barbara McEwen
I guess I was expecting more of a picture of the author's epileptic brother? You really have to infer a lot, really everything. I suppose the author is quite honest in how he felt growing up but the truth is that he was self-absorbed and hateful at times.
I am sure it would be difficult, I am not without empathy, I have a mother with schizophrenia, but he really makes himself out to be a martyr while actually doing very little. He even includes in the book that his parents and sister never notic
...more
Robert Frecer
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Probably the best graphic novel I’ve ever read. Don’t be fooled by the title - this novel is also about so many different subjects like growing up, finding your place in your family, finding your voice in the world, and living out your share of sorrows in between. I loved the author’s interjecting descriptions of his dreams to illustrate his subconscious feelings at times where describing them bluntly would have been too painful or too direct. This was a wonderful read and the art is fascinating ...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
Nancy Kotkin
Text: 1 star
Art: 5 stars

Black-and-white young-adult graphic novel about growing up with an epileptic brother. I love the art, mainly because it's laced with visual metaphors. But the text is rather problematic. The narrative is distant and disjointed. The storyline wavers all over the place. Of the 360 pages of this book, less than half are about growing up with an epileptic brother. Whole sections are devoted to the creator's grandparents and their unrelated stories of growing up, wars, death,
...more
Dane Cobain
May 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Sapainca42
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Dominick
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Pierre-Francois Beauchard took the name "David" as a teen and publishes his comics under the name David B. Epileptic is an autobiographical narrative about the devastatign effects of his brother's epilepsy on their family--the increasingly desperate attempts to treat it via one crackpot scheme after another, the psychological scars it cost, and so on. Drawn in an elaborate and expressionistic style, the work comes across more like dark fantasy than realism, as David B chooses to manifest disease ...more
Huda AbuKhoti
Nov 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Unapologetically brutal, honest, gruesome and sad.

I didn't intend to write a review on this but I couldn't stop thinking about it a day later. It still haunts me.

I really hate the author's guts. I hated him the most when he goes to his brother's room trying to tease him about his illness then justifying it with trying to help him out of his slump... I hated him when he thought of murdering his brother or leaving him behind.
But I also respect him for his honesty and transparency, because witho
...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #86 Epileptic by David B. 1 6 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

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.” 12 likes
“There is a rage inside me that I mitigate with my constant drawing.” 8 likes
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