Saturday, December 15, 2012

Comic Review: Daytripper

It's always a treat when I find myself in a room with people who are into the same things as me.  When this happens at the comic shop, it can be troublesome too, because it usually results in me adding a bunch of comics to my "must read" list.  Daytripper was a comic that got bandied about during one recent comic shop chat-session, and when one of my buddies gave his synopsis of it, I knew I had to read it.

Daytripper follows the life of Bras de Olivias Dominguez and each chapter of this ten issue collection focuses on a different key period in Bras' life; His thirty second birthday, a memorable vacation, the birth of his first child, weekends at his grandparents' and more.  Though there's a variety of life stages and moments that the story chooses to focus on, each chapter ends the same, with Bras' death.

The next chapter will then begin, oblivious to his death in the previous chapter, and then again end with his death.  Each chapter follows Bras through life, through the highs and the lows and the reader begins to get not only a full picture of the man's life, but also of the true meaning behind this work: to live life every day as best you can, because the future's uncertain and the end is always near.

Daytripper is written and illustrated by the powerhouse Brazilian comic making twin brother duo, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon.  As I've come to find with these guys, their work here is honest, profound and deeply moving.  Though I've been impressed with all the stuff I've seen from Moon and Ba so far, this is by far their most impressive effort in the comics medium.  Both in terms of writing and art.

To be honest, I'm not sure how Moon and Ba broke up the art and writing duties, but whether they split it, share it, or however they parcel it out, there is no discernible shifting between styles, or voices.  Instead, Daytripper has a very clear voice, and the story flows along seamlessly.  The art here is quite good, and it does particularly well when it comes to depicting a variety of emotions.  Daytripper is a powerfully emotional book, and Moon and Ba nail that emotional aspect through their art.

Daytripper is easily one of the more powerful comics I've read in a long time, and despite coming in the wake of recent reads like Lemire's The Underwater Welder and Cotter's Skyscrapers of the Midwest, it's also one of the most powerful reads of the year for me.  Daytripper is a book that made me cry, at my work desk, in the middle of the school kitchen...during school lunch.  Needless to say, there were a lot of people around.  There was just no helping it. This is a comic that is incredibly moving and brought both tears of joy and sadness to my eyes.

I remember getting my hands on the first issue when Daytripper was coming out in singles, and liked what I read, but wasn't sure from reading the first issue, if it would be a story that continually caught my interest.  See, the one weakness of this book is that it takes a while for the reader to get the hang of just what Moon and Ba are attempting to do with their story, and I can see that it would be hard to stick with the story if one were reading it in single issues.  That moment where the book, and Moon and Ba's motives clicked for me came fairly early on, but I had the benefit of a strong recommendation and contextal interpretation from a friend. In different circumstances, I could see myself getting weighed down by the repetitive deaths and sad endings to each chapter, and thus not ever getting around to seeing the subtle beauty that this book provides.

In the end, Moon and Ba have created a comics work that is absolutely unforgettable.  This is a comic that has found it's way into my mind on a daily basis since I started reading it. It has not only given me plenty to mull over, but helped me see life through a more beautiful lens.  This is a comic I'll gladly pass on to others to read.  It's really great stuff.

Grade: A+

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