cover image Psychotic


Jacques Mathis and Sylvain Dorange, trans. from the French by Ben Croze. Life Drawn, $22.99 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-64337-509-0

In Mathis and Dorange’s poetic comics portrait of psychosis, scribbler Jacques offers up a meandering series of vignettes that reflect on the “episodes” his mental illness has given him. As a child in a “gloomy small town,” Catholicism was “a poison” to his mind. From youth, he’s fixated on strange notions such as that the dead live in objects, and has his first serious mental-break episode at 14, when he becomes convinced he and a school administrator are an alternate dimension’s Adam and Eve. Drawing the reader into his various subsequent stints in and out of hospitals, he doesn’t attempt to rationalize actions, such as why he stopped once in the middle of a one-way street and abandoned his car. Instead, the approach is introspective and philosophical, drawing out Jacques’s feelings of euphoria, of grandeur, of emptiness. Dorange’s layered, quietly surreal art sketches overlay scenes and shadows that follow the characters around, with echoing shapes and metaphorical leaps left open to interpretation. While Jacques’s treatment in institutions is presented with distinct resentment, he does find a way through therapy and drugs to an orderly life. He queries, “How can you tell if a patient is cured?” There’s no easy answers in this intimate, provocative trip into a disordered mind. (Aug.)