The Cartoon Life and Loves of a Stupid Man

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Pub Date 28 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 15 Dec 2023



As an independent comic book store owner and the heir to a pharmaceutical fortune, Philippe Favrier lives a life that straddles the real world and the realm of fiction. Struggling with mental illness, Philippe relies on his wife, Marilyne – a successful surgeon with her own haunting secrets – and a groundbreaking drug his father developed. Bound by their shared pain, they navigate their haunted lives, forever shadowed by the heart-rending loss of their baby, Antoine.

Their fragile world begins to crumble when Philippe catches a disturbing glimpse of an unfamiliar profile in the mirror. And his uneasiness is further fueled by an anonymous comic strip that arrives at his store, featuring a character bearing an eerie resemblance to him.

Is Marilyne hiding an affair? Is she connected to the comic strip that's tormenting him? As he probes deeper, Philippe is drawn into a web of deception, where the lines between reality and imagination blur – until his investigations into Marilyne and the malicious comic artist at last reveal the tragic truth.


As an independent comic book store owner and the heir to a pharmaceutical fortune, Philippe Favrier lives a life that straddles the real world...

Advance Praise


'The absorbing winter escape of a read that I had been seeking'

Prashanth Gopalan, Strange Horizons

'Riddled with mysteries, the darkest of human emotions, and it is a book that will instigate curiosity, yet send a shiver down your spine each moment you turn a page'

India Today

'I find the astonishing stories collected -- and arranged chronologically by historical era -- to be consistently enthralling, amazing, and powerful. They are beautifully written and filled with both sharp characterizations of conflicted, complicated people and rich, multi-layered detail about the states, landscapes, history, and lingering myths of southern India. . . . I recommend Hangdog Souls heartily to all thoughtful readers who long to be immersed in a fulsomely realized world that skillfully combines very old mythologies and phenomenally new reflections on what they can still mean'

Jerrold E. Hogle, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of English, University of Arizona

'A complex and wildly ambitious novel which makes no apologies for bringing together contrasting genres and influences – from historical fiction to the Gothic, from intergenerational family drama to “realist” fiction, from supernatural horror to sci-fi, all infused with elements of philosophy, myth and spiritualism and conveyed in rich and beautiful prose'

Ends of the World


'The absorbing winter escape of a read that I had been seeking'

Prashanth Gopalan, Strange Horizons

'Riddled with mysteries, the darkest of human emotions, and it is a book that...

Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781739708191
PRICE £9.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 19 members

Featured Reviews

3.5 stars

This one is dark and disturbing and so well written. It is a slow burn, but it needs to be this way in order to develop that uncomfortable and unsettling feeling.

It really does take on mental illness very well in my opinion. It is going to hit hard for some though.

Overall I really liked this, even though it did take a small toll on me emotionally.

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This is one of those novels that really defy genre expectations. It's intriguing, creepy in some instances, and very well written but it's not overtly horrific in the traditional sense. That doesn't mean it's not worth reading, though, because it really is.

If you wanted to break it down to its most basic premise, this book is about a man suffering a mental crisis and starts to develop all encompassing, ever increasing paranoi once he stops taking his medication.

But that's not really sufficient in describing the whys and hows and therein is the meat of this novel. It's a kaleidoscope journey told from the perspective of the man in question and situations occur that his mind interprets as personal attacks against him from his wife and others.

This slow deterioration will eventually lead to a landslide of paranoid delusions which will result in the unthinkable.

This book is by no means about a psychopath or sociopath. It's not especially bloody or violent. But it builds this creepy disturbing vibe over the course of the story and makes you feel uncomfortable. Sometimes for reasons that can't quite be explained.

I recommend this book for those who want a quieter and slowly unsettling horror read. You'll find a lot in here to enjoy.

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The Cartoon Life and Loves of a Stupid Man tells the tale of an already unbalanced man, Phillipe, the son of a pharmaceutical giant, and prescribed one of the psychiatric pills created by his father. The medication has dampened his artistic abilities, and at times he feels inadequate compared to his wife, a cardiac surgeon. The novel tells of his slow descent into paranoia and unreality.

Literally attracted to the book by its cover, it’s not at all what I’d expected to be reading. It’s a slow burn of a story, well written and plotted, and progressively claustrophobic. I was totally sucked into the book, and had to tear myself away last night in order to go to sleep.

The novel isn’t for everyone. It’s definitely not light reading. But for those who like literary novels with an edge, it’s definitely worth reading.

My thanks to the publisher and to Netgalley for providing an ARC of the book.

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I really enjoyed how good everything flowed in the horror genre, it had that terrifying and suspenseful feel that this type of book has. Marc Joan does a great job in creating this world and story, the characters were everything that I was hoping for and how well everything worked. I loved the idea of a horror comic book and that blur in reality.

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You want something different, something to make your skin crawl and get you thinking?

Read. This. Book.

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Not overly horrific, but just enough for great entertainment. It gets creepy and odd and weird at times.
It becomes bleak. It's a little on the slow pace side but I think that adds to the story.

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Thank you NetGalley and Deixis Press for access to this ARC!
Philippe and his wife Marilyne are two "non-Normals" trying to pass through life until Philippe's inheritance comes through. The novel acts as a comic book of Philippe's life, we see his general decline as his mental illness turns him against his wife and those around her.
Let me start off by saying WOW.
I love love love this book. It is so deranged and smart and creative.
There is something to like in all of the characters, even though Philippe's eventual descent into madness paints them as deceitful and unlikable (we take it with a grain of salt of course because Philippe is also unlikable).
I love the occasional mentions of "The Book," reminding you that the book you're reading is the one Philippe is referring to. The constant employment of comic book terms, like the fonts certainly words would be in or the ink colours, really sell the book.
The ending is so well-crafted, but you can see it coming (which is a GOOD THING). There are enough hints as it boils over to predict what's going to happen which makes it all the sweeter (or bitter) when Philippe puts everything together.
I would definitely recommend this to horror fans and those who love deep psychological stuff and unlikable main characters.

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