Psychotic by Jacques Mathis is a, “What the Flying Monkey did I just read,” read. With Sylvian Dorange illustrating this splintered, crazy, odd, all over the place graphic novel, Mathis tells his own story. It is a story of one man’s madness, and the journey he takes to try and put himself back together again. Yet, some days, if what we see on the page is the real type of things he experienced during his manic episodes, it is a miracle is did not stay “cracked.”
While mostly in chronological order, highlights of Mathis’s life play out before us bouncing between then, now, and someplace in between. From the women he is convinced are in love with him, his French girlfriend, the friends he has, the times he was almost arrested, the men he kissed, the times in isolation and a glimpse at what went on in his head during an episode, we watch as one man falls apart. Mathis talks in romantic, poetic language, but what he is talking about is downright ugly. If what he experienced was what was really, it is a miracle he was alive to tell you, the reader, his story.
The art is busy, oddly colored and matches the tone of the text. It is sexual, sensual, grotesque, violent, and uses color as Mathis uses words: in your face and subtle at the same time. You must stop, read, and digest what is going on. Colors are minimal but powerful. Every image, color and detail were deliberately thought of and created. This goes for the text as well. Even though it seems that it is just a jumbled-up mess of letters put together, Mathis knows what he is doing. Probably.
All the while Mathis is narrating his experiences and life, we also see the light at the end of the tunnel. Abstract in realism, realistic in its abstract, this is not a fun or easy read. It is something one must take their time with and not rush. Reread as many times as needed. This is not a happy read, it is not an easy read, and no way is it a comfortable read. It is not for everyone, but everyone will take away something.