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-Franaois Beauchard in a small town near Orleans, 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-Franaois 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-FranÁois's grandparents and we relive his grandfathers' experiences in both World Wars. We follow Pierre-FranÁois 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.
'In Epileptic, the distortions of family life caused by his brother's illness are the cracked lens through which David B. explores on his own family's history and, by extension, the conflicts of 20th century France and even, to an extent, the world. The thing that makes this memoir unlike any ever seen before is the wonderful, inky, intricate artwork, and the way that allows us to enter into the story via the rich and angry fantasy life of a growing boy.' -Jessica Abel, author of La Perdida, Mirror, Window and Soundtrack
Epileptic is a memoir about David's brother who has been plagued by epileptic seizures his entire life. David's parents try many treatments for the seizures, from macrobiotic diets to surgery.
As a child, David becomes interested in samurai and draws epic battles which make up the first half of the book. As he ages he comes to understand that he sees his life as a battle; one to save his brother as well as keep himself from getting sick. I enjoyed the way that this book is written from the mind of a child. Occasionally the narrative will be 'interrupted' by a grown David. We see conversations between him and his mother that take place while he writes the book.
I found myself lingering over panels forever and going back to them later. What I enjoyed the most were David B.'s illustrations of his ghosts which are his imaginary friends as well as parts of his personality.
Epileptic is an amazing piece of art, one that I highly recommend.
-Lauren Eichelberger, Atomic Books Blog