January 24, 2005 | Trades


David B.
Pantheon Books
$35 (Hardcover)
**** 1/2 (out of five)

There is nothing more painful than watching someone you love in pain.
If this person is family it compounds your suffering — and for a child doubly so.
Epileptic, by French writer/illustrator David B., is a moving reflection on a childhood and adolescence spent with his elder brother, Jean-Christophe, who is afflicted by this nervous disorder.
Through an intricately weaved series of black-and-white drawings, David (born Pierre-Francois Beauchard) depicts his feelings of confusion and helplessness when, as a child, the seizures took control away from his brother. While his parents feverishly take the family on a roller-coaster ride of medical and spiritual experiments, from macrobiotics (the consumption of certain foods to aid health) to magnetism, acupuncture, alchemy, voodoo, exorcism and many even more outlandish, David and his sister are swept along with them.
Exploring al ranges of the emotional scale, including sympathy, frustration, cruelty, fear, loathing, anguish, sadness and deepest of all hope, David deftly show how illness that afflict family members can be just as debilitating for those closest to them.
The use of illustrations, including the recurring depiction of Jean-Christophe’s disorder as an actual monster that lives inside him, adds a more personal, and often more painful, touch to David’s experiences than a simple written memoir might be able to capture.
A meaningful, moving and masterful work, Epileptic is a high-water mark in autobiographical comics.

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