Monday, 10 March 2014

David B's 'Epileptic' gets animated film adaptation


David B's Epileptic was one of the formative influences in the evolution of my comics reading. I read it in my teens and at a time when my interest in comics, and a broader reading of the medium was starting to grow- and picking up Epileptic at the library was a significant step in that journey. I'd still not been exposed to a wider range of art styles or genres, and reading his autobiographical account of his and his family's experiences in attempting to cope with his brother and his disease, rendered viscerally in that almost tribal, raw black and white graphic style left an indelible imprint.

Now, it seems the book has been adapted into an animated French film by director Christophe Gerard, under its original French title of L'Ascension du haut mal (The Rise of the High Evil) -a title which proved difficult to adequately translate when publishing the English translation of the book, due to its multi-layered meanings:  'haut mal' is an archaic term for epilepsy, literally meaning 'high evil' or 'great sickness,' and  also ascension in terms of climbing and rising, connoting the uphill struggle faced by the family and the attempt to rise above, and triumph over their problems.

You can see a couple of teaser trailers at the website, which look fantastic- it's in French, with English subtitles, and also in colour as opposed to the black and white of David B's comic. Even from those brief glimpses, it looks pretty good, ominous and moving. There's no release for it yet, but one to most definitely keep a look out for.

Epileptic was originally published in French by publishers L'Association,  in six volumes between 1996 and 2003, the first half of which was collected and published in English by Fantagraphics in one volume in 2002. A complete edition of the book was released by Pantheon in 2005. The fourth volume of the French books won the 2000 Angoulême International Comics Festival Prize, with David B also winning the 2005 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Artist.

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