Let’s talk about death.
As we meander our way through one subplot to the next, it’s something we typically don’t discuss much. Death is the ignored truth waiting for all of us at some point, it’s lovingly inevitable and deeply invested in each one of us. For many, myself included, the existence of Death is a beautiful frame to view life; not in the sense of living every day as if it’s your last, but understanding that appreciating life can be achieved by recognizing that the story of your life would not be whole without an end. The finale of a story creates a framework to allow for the crescendo of the narrative threads to melt into the bittersweet sensation of completion. There is nothing that has made me experience this feeling at the last page more than Vertigo’s Daytripper, a 10-issue comic by Fábio Moon & Gábriel Ba, Eisner Award-winning twin brothers.
The story centers around a one Brás de Oliva Domingos, son of a celebrated Brazilian writer. Despite his best efforts to publish his breakout novel, Brás spends most of his days writing obituaries, penning the departure of others while slowly missing out on the opportunity to live his own beginnings. Each chapter picks up at a different point of his life and ends with his death. What culminates is a man’s life shattered into various hues like light through rough glass; though what is experienced is not a divided collection of separate stories, but a full tale of a real life lived garbed in the sensational robes of magical realism, charming circumstance, and a meaningful examination of the quiet moments in life that seem to last forever. The story uses little, poignant moments to delve into the big questions, such as “What are the most important days of you life?“.
Craig Thompson (creator of Blankets & Habibi) wrote in the forward to the collected publication: “Daytripper is an honest meditation on mortality,” and it stands as probably the most apt way to describe it. As the story traipses through equally significant moments in Brás’ life, the story showcases, devoid of saccharine and heavy-handedness, what it considers to be the things that create a life truly lived: love, family, dreams, friendship, and stories. Without qualms or wincing, Daytripper cradles you at birth, holds your hand at childhood, lets go at adulthood, and waves you a soft farewell at death with every iteration of Brás discovering and experiencing his own life. Everything about the story beautifully entwines with the art to the point where it’s completely understandable that the creators have been connected since birth, anything else would be short of supernatural. Luscious washed-away watercolors by Dave Stuart exemplify the brothers’ Moon and Bá extremely capable style with a natural vision beyond what most people expect in comics. In closing, Daytripper is an expertly created life-affirming triumph about humanity that transcends the mere reality of being a stellar example of comics as art or literature. Refusing the resplendence of this miracle of a book is to refuse life itself.
My pulls for 3/6 are:
- Hellboy in Hell #4 by Mike Mignola
- Animal Man #18 by Jeff Lemire & Steve Pugh
- Before Watchmen – Rorschach #4 by Brian Azzarello & Lee Bermejo
- Swamp Thing #18 by Scott Snyder & Yanick Paquette
- Fairest #13 by Lauren Beukes & Inaki Miranda
- Lost Vegas #1 by Jim McCann & Janet Lee
- Mara #3 by Brian Wood, Ming Doyle & Jordie Bellair
- Sex #1 by Joe Casey & Piotr Kowalski
- Snapshot #2 by Andy Diggle & Jock
(top image contains cover art of Daytripper by Fábio Moon & Gábriel Ba)