The introduction to Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba’s “Daytripper” is written by Craig Thompson ("Blankets"). Thompson makes a passing remark in that introduction, dividing comics into two distinct groups. He writes:
“The world of comics has long been divided between two schools: FANTASY versus REALISM. The superhero is escapist. The DREAM. Clearly a distraction. But the other is its own abstraction - distilling life to its most mundane, suppressing the dream with CYNICISM.”
It’s an interesting distinction, one too interesting to do justice alone in this review. He continues:
“Gabriel Ba & Fabio Moon dance between both, infusing reality with the sacred. “Daytripper” is an honest meditation on mortality.”
And we hit the morsel of the introduction: Daytripper is, at its core, about mortality. It is a frank look at the way that people see life through the lens of death. It is a modern fairytale, where the fantasy is delivered directly through the medium, in a way that lends itself very well to sequential, serialised art.
Let's start with that.
The twins - Moon and Ba - have a style that so perfectly lends itself to their story. It’s a little jaw dropping, actually, how our main character - obituary writer Bras de Olivia Domingos - changes from comic to comic while always staying recognizeable. Despite the vast age changes from issue to issue, Bras et all were always clearly defined. Family resemblance is particularly strong as well, everyone does look like a mash of their progenitors. The coloring is also noteworthy , as certain colors seem to bleed outside of their outlines. Interestingly, this is less apparent in scenes with a lot of action. When the characters move, they are well defined. It is when they face a moment that requires remembering (a pause for introspection, seeing something you find remarkable) that the colors seem to bleed out, like the artist left his brush on his page longer than they should have. It’s subtle, but I find myself noticing it more and more on the second (and third, and fourth) read through.
This is the Spoiler-free review, so my review of the story will be as general as I can. The story hit me hard, legitimately leaving me pained. It deals with death in a very provocative way, one that skirts gimmick and works, almost too well. The principle mechanic of the comic is not overplayed but ever-present - and yet, it hurts every single time. You get a sense for the wide breadth of a man’s life in these pages, and that might be it’s greatest strength. Its strong themes of Fatherhood, creation, life, and death are ever-present in the pages and easy to connect with. As I am a twenty-something male, I connected strongly with the protagonist from issue to issue, no matter where the story took him. There are holes in the lot, but purposeful ones, ones meant to illustrate the themes in the story, not keep you guessing.
That being said, you’ll be utterly confused at the end of the first few issues. I think it’s worthwhile to know that you’re not reading a mystery. This isn’t “Lost”. Don’t look for what’s “Really Happening”. Just read this book. Absorb it. Let the thick paperback (with thin paper) stay in your bag for reads four through eight. Let it get a little worn. Lend it to your dad.
TL;DR: "Daytripper" is a fantastical look into the life of a modern man through the lens of fatherhood, friendship, and death. Highly recommended.
"Daytripper" is written and drawn by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba, and published by Vertigo Comics. If you'd like to read "Daytripper", check out your local comic book store, or help us out and buy it from Amazon.