Monday, February 21, 2011

Exfanding Review: Daytripper

Even though I only write a limited number of reviews on the blog, I do actually read a lot of books. And I read a lot of books from across lots of different genres and styles. I read plenty of comics, sure, but I also read my fair share of novels, short stories, biographies, political news, and random dissertations found online.

Also, I like plays. Beckett, mostly.

And being fairly well-read, I have come across many pieces of work that I put down, and, while I enjoyed the contents, I mostly just forget about. That kind of thing tends to happen when you have more books than you have room for your books. As with anyone who reads often, though, once in a while, there's a book or a comic or a play or a short story that makes me stop and go, "huh."

And I mean that in a good way.

For the most part, I only read what looks interesting to me, so the great majority of what I read has that, "huh" effect on me. But then there are those works that just...linger. They stay with me. They haunt my dreams, and they tend to not go away for a while. If ever.

Daytripper, written and drawn by brothers Gabriell Bá and Fábio Moon, and published by Vertigo, is one of those books.

A graphic novel about the most important days and moments in a life, Daytripper is that rare comic that manages to absorb the reader, wholly, into its world. The settings, the characters, the landscape.

And, while this book is filled with elements of magical realism, the world created by the extraordinarily talented brothers seems so real, so much like something you've lived through, that this sweeping narrative about lovers and friends and goddesses and murderers manages to feel familiar.

Which, I suppose, is a trait found in literature's greatest stories of magical realism.

In Daytripper, the main character, Brás de Oliva Domingos, is an obituary writer for his local newspaper. In each issue of the series, we see Brás at a different stage in his life. Accordingly, chapters are titled by Brás'age during that particular story--21, 11, etc.

There are alternative realities revealed here; different paths that Brás might have taken, or should have taken, or actually did take. We meet women that Brás may or may not have met and friends who may or may not be alive. If he does one thing, his life veers off to the right. If he does another thing, his life moves left.

And each issue is self-contained, for the most part, but there's a cohesive narrative thread that runs through the entire series.

I don't want to keep writing about this book, simply because I don't want to spoil anything for anyone out there who's interested in giving it a try.

So I need to wrap this up soon, but I don't feel like I've given this book enough credit. I certainly have failed to express my love for this work in words, which makes me a pretty lousy writer, and a complete failure as a guy with a blog about comic books.

Oh. The art. I can talk about the art.

Oh, my goodness, the art. Anyone familiar with the brothers' other work (Umbrella Academy, Ursula) knows just how special these guys are as illustrators.

The covers are ink-washed and beautiful and the interiors are filled with expressive faces, beautiful, real women, and landscapes that you know and have been to, even if you haven't.

Daytripper is that rare comic that, if it had no words, I would happily buy it for the art. And if it had no art, I would happily buy it for the words.

There. That says it all.

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