Published on March 6th, 2011 | by Terry Boyden1
Graphic Novel Review: Daytripper (Vertigo Comics)
Daytripper reads like an intricately woven novel, which is brought to life through vivid illustrations that look like a slice of life. Creators Gabriel Ba and Fabian Moon have delivered a tale of immersion. From the moment you are introduced to Bras de Olvia Domingos, a Brazilian obituary writer, you will be overwhelmed by this brilliantly composed story. The tale dissects a single life, through several life altering moments. Yet, one question always emerges and will have readers questioning their own existence. Is today the day that I am truly alive?
In the first pages of Daytripper, we meet Bras de Olvia Domingos. He writes obituaries for the newspaper. However, he’s never realized one important detail. “Even when he’s not writing about it (death), people will keep dying.” The words deliver a resounding smack-in-the-face against the blood soaked backdrop of comic panel. It’s a brief, but modest epiphany for both Bras and the reader.
From there, you head back in time to see how Bras came to such a prophetic realization. Much like Harry in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” Bras is a man who lives out Langston Hughes memorable poem “A Dream Deferred.” He’s lived in the shadow of his father most of his life. However, we don’t know the exact nature of that relationship or the cause for any domestic dispute. While his father is apparently a successful writer, Bras has allowed his inner demons to prevent him from completing his own novel. We are also introduced to Bras’ wife, his friend Jorge and his mother.
Each chapter in Daytripper is taken from a year in Bras’ life, with each character playing a significant role in his life development. Every critical moment is explored, from Bras first kiss to his first true love. After reading Daytripper, you will feel like you know Bras better than your dearest friend.
The years play out like a series of “What If?” comics. You constantly wonder if you died and had a chance to continue living, would you live your life more fully and put aside that dream differed. In Daytripper, Bras’ mom calls him a Little Miracle because he was born during a black out. However, Bras’ life becomes more of a metaphor for “choice,” the real miracle evidenced in this story. It’s an utterly sad tale, filled with constant downers and morose moments. But, that’s the heart of Ba and Moon’s story that serves as a life allegory. It’s the comic version of Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist.”
The illustrations do a great deal to bring out the story’s emotional content. It’s rare that you’ll see so much emotion depicted in the eyes of a comic illustration. Yet, in Daytripper, the the full close-up of a character’s eyes will tell its own story, outside of the writing in the panel. It’s a cinematic take on illustration.
Daytripper is easily one of the best graphic novels written in the new millennium and is well deserving of a place in any reader’s bookshelf. After reading this novel, don’t be surprised if you find yourself charting out your own life and wondering what moment in your past did the most to define the person you are today. You’ll also question how you should live your life, if that moment has yet to come.