Collects: Daytripper #1-10 (2010)
Released: February 2011 (DC / Vertigo)
Format: 256 pages / color / $19.99 / ISBN:
What is this?: A Brazilian man faces the pivotal days of his life — and dies every time.
The culprits: Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá
I do not often read comics like Daytripper — that is, comics that aren’t superhero-based or heavily based on some sci-fi / fantasy concept. If I were a more reflective man, Daytripper’s status as the best trade paperback I read in 2012 might cause me to re-examine my reading choices. (It won’t, though.)
Still, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá’s Vertigo book is the most engrossing comic I’ve read in years. Daytripper chronicles the life of obituary writer Brás de Olivias Dominguez as he struggles to become a novelist, like his famous father. Moon and Bá show one important event in Brás’s life per issue; at the end of each, Brás dies.
And in the next issue, it’s another day, either in Brás’s future or past, and he lives again.
Each death gives Bá and Moon a chance to show how Brás’s life would have been perceived had he died at that moment, through the medium of an obituary. Success, failure, artist, pretender — all those labels depend on flukes, accidents of time and place. Each story examines life and death with charming narration of surprising depth, and Brás’s deaths are never mined for cheap pathos or laughs. Despite the constant presence of death and the evaluation of a life, Daytripper isn’t depressing; in the end, the book is uplifting, hopeful.
Part of the reason Daytripper isn’t just a maundering journey through one man’s frequently interrupted life is the ending, a surprisingly sweet one. But a larger part of the reason is that Brás is always moving forward. Each issue features a pivotal moment for Brás, and when he hits that pivot, he’s always moving, never frozen by fear or lack of desire. Brás is easy to like because of his hope and desires; he may not be an unstoppable force or mighty hero, but he’s not a modern protagonists filled with angst and ambivalence, like one of novelist Charles Yu’s characters.
I don’t know who did the art; the book gives no specific credits to either Moon or Bá. Whoever held the pencils and pens, the art is wonderful — evocative, as capable of telling the story as the words (sometimes, more so). The characters’ expressions are detailed and subtle. The style is representative without being slavishly literal. The color palette is well chosen for each issue. Although I don’t necessarily want to read more comics in this literary vein, I need to seek out more of this art … although even this art won’t aid stories it isn’t suited for or I don’t care for (such as Casanova).
I can’t fully express how much I liked this book. The simplicity of its concept, explored through an almost lyrical pairing of art and words, make Daytripper an outstanding comic. I’m disappointed it took me two years to find Daytripper, even though I knew about the title from a review of #1 on House to Astonish. However, I’m happy I have read it.
Rating: (5 of 5)