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Epileptic back

David B.


Page 45 Review by Mark

Stunning, inventive, rambling autobiography from one of the current masters of French comics. You can get a little jaded from hearing that so-and-so is one of the best cartoonists on the continent and this wasn't too appealing a prospect. The basis is his brother's epilepsy and the effect it has on both the young author and on the family unit. As I was reading through it last night (and telling myself that I had to stop and get some sleep) I thought that the title and preview blurb had misled me because it wasn't all about the epilepsy. Sure, that is a part of it, but so is David's love of war history and his growing interest in drawing and the family's drift toward alternative culture. Only now does it click. When something as big as this happens within a family everything else is changed by their proximity. Maybe he (calling himself Pierre in the book) dove further into his own imagination because his brother (and they were close) was slowly drifting away, changing inside. His parents definitely decided to look to other therapies and therefore other living arrangements because of Jean's affliction.

The opening sequence lays down the scene at breakneck speed, rather like Magnolia's relentless hurtle. The 'voice over' is very conversational but it darts around, without feeling forced, gradually mapping out the home life, Pierre's friends, his parents and obsessions. Slowly, as we're warming to the brothers, he introduces other elements like the snaking creatures to represent various illnesses. The creatures have a good deal of Mayan design to them and they call the patients to writhe and dance on the panel. Illness is a monster, literally. Pierre says that a Japanese doctor reminds him of a big cat so the doctor is always shown with a grinning cat head atop his giant frame. This is a story about someone drifting away and the effect on the family.

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