Is this, you ask yourself, another book I’ve never read, but definitely should? Why, yes, yes it is. Daytripper is another quality title delivered by Vertigo Comics, written by Fabio Moon and drawn by Gabriel Ba. I think it’s important to note that the authors are real life twins. It seems to me this helps their work come together in the story. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Daytripper is a story about a man named Bràs De Olivias Dominguez throughout different stages of his life. In his early adulthood, he works at a newspaper writing obituaries, as he looks for something bigger. The unique turn for this story is that each chapter ends with Bràs’ death. Every issue he is a different age, and we see some new way that his story ends. It’s a story about death, yes, but it’s also a story about life, and how the two fit together. It also takes a look at how death shapes a life. That is, each ending is written like an obituary, and these articles are tailored to give us a picture of Bràs. At least, that was my take, but I can’t read the book for you, can I? Unless…you read this review and decide not to read the book!
So, let’s talk story. This was a very insightful, interesting book. It managed to capture both the realism of life, and the make believe that many comics use. See, each death doesn’t really happen. At least I don’t think so. But we’re able to see it and experience it. There is actually a very interesting introduction by Craig Thompson (Blankets) about this balancing of elements. This isn’t an overly cynical book, nor is it overly optimistic. It’s a story that feels very much like real life. There’s good, bad, life, and death. It examines life from several different stages to find what each journey in life means. But it always ends the same way (spoiler alert: just like life). It really helped to create a thoughtful, moving story that had me thinking about my own life. I think the best stories are able to reach us, and this was no exception.
Moon’s writing develops realistic characters, most of all Bràs. Of course, we know his fears, hopes, and quirks. He is perhaps one of the most real characters in recent comics. I thought that Moon also used the medium very well. He wrote each panel full of information, so that we could digest it as we looked at the picture. Of course, this could be Ba’s doing. It’s impossible to say without hearing from the creators themselves.
But this is where the art and pictures worked together so well. Remember, the twin brother thing. The words and pictures work together in a way that both enhance and carry each other. The words make the pictures better, and the pictures make the words stronger. But, the thing to really remember is that this art is simply gorgeous. It’s really something to look at. This isn’t like the usual cartoonist art that I like, where you love it or hate it. No, I think that this is one of those comics that is universally praised for its art. And, actually, if you disagree with that, I’ll fight you. That’s right! It hits on the realism, sure. But there is also a strong magical sort of element, a dream like quality to Ba’s art that lends itself to the blurred lines of reality in this story. You know, the dying again and again thing.
I would be amiss if I didn’t bring up something one of the creators said in the back of the book. He said, “this is a story about quiet moments.” And I love that, because so much of life is figuring it out. And while that’s loud internally, it’s often a pretty private process. And while the story highlights these moments, I think the art comes through on this front very strongly. As a friend who read this book mentioned, you can always tell what’s going on by the eyes. Upon further review, that’s true. Every scene you can tell how a character is feeling, just by looking at their eyes. Maybe not every scene, because maybe they’re closed or something. But the eyes are so expressive, helping to paint a picture under what we see. It gives us a level of connection and understand that you don’t always get in comics.
This is a story that is really worth checking out. If you want to read a quality comic, pick it up. But, more importantly, this is a book to read if you want to understand why others choose comics, or to understand comic story telling itself.