What I’m Reading (Comics): daytripper

16 May

This Thursday I will be boarding a plane to go to Austin for my sister’s graduation (woo hoo!). So, Daniel and I went to go pick up some reading materials and, unfortunately for my trip, one thing I picked up was so good I’ve already blazed my way through it.

That book is the graphic novel “Daytripper” by twins Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba.

In it, we get the life story of Bras de Oliva Domingos an obituary writer living in the shadow of his famous father, also an author. That is until he himself writes his first book that garners him his own fame. Until he has a son and his own family. Or does he?

Through delightful twists of magical realism, each chapter is a chapter out of Bras’ life but chronology is skewed and we see, at several different times, the death of Bras. Like literary greats before it, “Daytripper,” studies life and death by allowing it’s protragonist to live and die several times, to learn new lessons and to have those quiet moments that allow you to ask the big questions.

“Daytripper,” takes advantage of the form to present, through art and story, a tone that is at once nostalgic and grounded in reality, whimsical while still reining itself in.

And this is important when you consider that stories about authors are often stories about writing and, as a writer myself, we have to acknowledge that perhaps it’s a little self-indulgent. The art is a surreal watercolor wash at times and, at others, the page allows for those snapshots of moments, pure reality, that we might normally pass by too quickly: the dog who waits at his masters’ door, the look of realization on ones face, the moment when you stop being a tourist and start enjoying life moment by moment. At any moment it could easily become heavy handed.

It questions the role of family and friends in one’s life. Equally affording the opportunity for a father’s words to his son to handicap or benefit him in his own journey. These author-brothers allow hints of sentimentality, just enough to allow for the quiet spaces between words to hold meaning as well.

And fortunately, I’m not saying much new that other reviewers haven’t said before me. You can find dozens of other reviews that struggle equally to encourage others to read without wanting to spoil the lyrical magic that this book casts.

But I think the reviewer jakob187, over on the Comicvine.com forums, says it best:

We talk so much as comic fans about how a character’s death has become something cheap, used as a device to reel us in with its setup of “oh hey, one of these major characters is going to die”.  Despite the fact that we know they’ve got a 99% chance of being resurrected somehow.  Moon does the unimaginable:  he gives us a character where his death makes a stronger impact on the story being told every time.  It’s such an odd thing to see unfold, but when you are aware that Bras is gonna bite it, you realize that you are attaching yourself stronger to the moments because you have to take them in.

As an epilogue, Fabio Moon writes that “We wanted that feeling that life was happening right there, in front of every one of us, and we were living it. And we did live it. And sometimes we die to prove that we lived.”

There is an urgency to the lyrical writing as the reader stands constantly on the brink of births, deaths, and the thrill of those important first experiences of meeting future loves, first kisses, and first broken hearts.

In the future, I hope to see this book join the ranks of greats like “Maus,” and “Persepolis,” because while it doesn’t deal with politics in the same way, like other great literary feats, it deals with life.


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