What are the moments that define your life? Daytripper is the story of Brás de Oliva Domingos. His life, his loves and his death. And everything in-between. The Brazilian creative team of twin brothers Fabio Moon and Gabriel Bá bring us an epic tale about the infinite possibility, beauty and sadness of life.
Daytripper will make you fall in love and break your heart. It will make you grieve the loss of somebody you love and celebrate the joy of the birth of your first child. You will feel the optimism and endless possibilities of youth. You will live the existential crush of middle age and the responsibilities it brings. And, finally, you will look into the twilight of your old age and wonder… What if?
Sounds pretty bold, doesn’t it? To think that a graphic novel would try and explore what it means to be human. To live a good, full filling life. To try and answer some of humanities deepest questions. Is there love at first sight? Can you escape the shadow of a successful parent? At what point do you stop fighting for a friend who is lost? Read on to find out…
The Life and Death of a Journalist
Brás de Oliva Domingos is a Brazilian journalist living in São Paulo who is stuck in a job writing obituaries. He really wants to write a great book but feels overshadowed by his father who is a famous award winning author. His writers block also doesn’t seem to help much. Brás feels trapped, he longs for the simple clarity of his younger days. Days when he had his whole live ahead of him and he thought he was going to live it to the fullest.
Brás talks about the past with his best friend and workmate Jorge, who convinces him to attend an award ceremony for his father after all.
Arriving early Brás goes into a nearby bar for cigarettes and a drink. Brás discusses how we don’t choose and can’t escape from our family with the friendly barkeeper. Until the barkeepers drug addicted nephew bursts into the place with a gun, demanding money. The barkeeper does everything to calm down his nephew. Offering him help to get off drugs and all the support of a loving family member. He is shot for his kindness. Brás asks the killer why he killed his uncle, to which he replies “You don’t choose family,” and shoots Brás in the head. And thus ends Daytripper’s first chapter and exploration of family and middle-aged disappointment.
A Beautiful Celebration of Life, Possibility and Being Human
This is the horrible beauty of Daytripper. Each chapter, each pivotal moment in Brás life ends with his death. Be it by accident, illness or murder. All ‘trips’ into the life of Brás de Oliva Domingos end in death. Then in the next issue of the story, Brás is resurrected. Having avoided the final fatal scene in the previous moment, we see him tackle yet another of life’s many challenges.
From his ‘coming of age’ trip to Salvador in the North of Brazil to the fear and pain of losing a friend in a plane crash –Daytripper is a very raw, a very human story. Moon and Bá interweave Brazil’s exotic nature and culture into a story that any human being can relate to and connect with.
Brás isn’t a hero, he isn’t a super-rich adventurer or tough noire detective. He’s an ordinary person. A man who has real hopes, dreams and fears. Somebody who questions himself, somebody who is trying to figure out life. Brás is a nice guy who wants to do the right thing. But he struggles with the random tragedies, challenges and opportunities life throws in all our paths. Just like a real person.
Emotional LSD -Disguised as Literature
In many ways Daytripper is an emotional and spiritual rollercoaster, much like Art Spiegelman’s Maus Volume 1. Of course, Brás isn’t faced with human cruelty, suffering and desperation on the level of the Holocaust as Vladek Spiegelman (Maus’ protagonist) was. His suffering, anxiety, hope and triumphs are of the more ordinary, everyday kind. Which makes them very compelling and relatable.
I was emotionally drained after reading Daytripper. It felt like I had lived through Brás life, like his pain was my pain and his joy was my joy. That his final walk along the beach in his old age was my final moment of life.
It is in this that the power and genius of the graphic novel comes through. That it can tell stories that draw you in deeper than other visual media (e.g. film) but is also able to show you the emotion, the action, the life of the story in ways that the written word can’t. It’s the perfect mix between your imagination and that of the creators. Very powerful stuff.
The Art and Writing of Daytripper
Daytripper’s art is very stylized. Bá’s style is a very credible mix between the realistic sequential art that dominates mainstream American graphic novels and the more cartoonish or representative art of classic comics. He brings the cities and landscapers of Brazil to life in an intimate and very direct way. His characters show emotions so beautifully on their faces and in their body language that you sometimes think you are watching a movie.
Bá pays very careful attention to the architecture of the cities in which the story plays. In once sentence Bá art is gorgeous and perfectly complements Daytripper’s wistful, sometimes other worldly atmosphere.
Moon’s writing is superb. As this mini-series was published under DC’s Vertigo label for mature reader and created for the US market there are no translation issues. The dialog flows and each chapter builds (indirectly) on each previous chapter.
Fabio Moon is actually an artist himself and I can’t help but think that this combined with his close relationship with Daytripper’s artist Gabriel Bá (his twin brother) was key in creating such a compelling and engaging graphic novel. Moon is a deep thinker who is very aware of many of life’s big questions which he presents and explores through the story in a simple and clear manner.
Daytripper is a must for any graphic novel collection. It’s a welcome change from the fantasy and darker themes of most mature comic books.
If you are new to graphic novels and want to dip your toes into this world Daytrippers is a great start!
Fabio and Gabriel also have a really nice blog where they share snippets from their creative process, journeys and lives here. Well worth the read.
PS: Click here to get your copy of Daytripper today. This graphic novel comes highly recommended, especially for people who like fiction but are not into ‘comics’ or super/anti- hero based stories.