Daytripper: Nine Slices of the Life of a Brazilian Writer
As Craig Thompson (creator of "Blankets" and "Goodbye, Chunky Rice") notes in his intro to this graphic novel, comics these days have a tendency to fall into one of two camps: escapist fantasy or cynical reflections on the mundanity of life. It is refreshing to find a comic that falls into neither camp. This comic, the work of extremely talented Brazilian twins Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, is one such work: as Thompson describes it, it "[infuses] reality with the sacred."
At its most basic, "Daytripper" is a slice of life story. Or to be more accurate, it's nine slices of the life of a Brazilian man named Bras de Olivia Domingos, the son of a famous writer, who (at the time the story opens) himself wants to be a writer, but can't yet work up the will to take the plunge. As the story opens, he is 32, working as an obituary writer, and mildly miserable with his life. As further chapters go on, the reader goes back and forward in time, seeing important moments in Bras' life, which each individual chapter devoted to a particular age. We get to see Bras' first kiss, his first love, the birth of his child, the death of his father, and other major markers of his life.
And in each chapter, Bras dies. Why varies (accident, disease, being in a bar as it's being robbed, even murder in one case), and what the deaths signify is left open. Are these alternate paths Bras' life could take? Do all the deaths somehow happen at once? The comic doesn't bother to explain, leaving it open-ended. I wish this bit was better explained, but it certainly is a fascinating conceit. I particularly like how each chapter ends with an obituary for Bras, summarizing fairly effectively the theme of each chapter.
The art in this comic is beautiful, just ever so slightly exaggerated but not excessively so. It is also incredibly detailed and richly colorful, to the point that sometimes it feels like a literal feast for the eyes. Moon and Ba definitely deserve kudos for how beautiful this comic is. If at some times it seems characters don't age much over ten years or so, it is forgettable because of the detail and beauty of the artwork.
All in all, this is a wondrous graphic novel. Moon and Ba have outdone themselves with this story of a fairly ordinary man that shows the poetry of a normal life. If you love stories of life, death, and everything that comes in between, you must check this comic out as soon as you can.