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By David B. (Pantheon Books, translated 2005)
Conditions like epilepsy impact entire families. This is the theme of Epileptic, an autobiographical graphic novel translated from the original French L'Ascension du Haut Mal. The placid, postwar childhood of author David B., (born Pierre-Francois Beauchard) is shattered when his older brother Jean-Christophe is struck by epilepsy at age 11. With few effective treatments available, the family ends up in a revolving door of New-Age quacks, and Jean-Christophe regresses into an endless childhood as his epilepsy becomes more severe. Through it all, David B. finds refuge in his stories and drawings. The fanciful illustrations are done in black and white, giving the book a primitive, dreamlike intensity.