Daytripper has to be one of the more wholly representative works of the graphic novel genre. All components imagined, written and sketched by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba are so effortlessly, subtly synthesized into a breezy evocation not just of Brasilian life, but life itself. It’s the work of a pair of brothers with nothing to prove beyond simple but effective storytelling. Though by no means slow, it is a story in which everything takes its time to unfold, perhaps one integral trait of South American or Brasilian culture.
It is the story, or perhaps stories, of nothing more than Bras de Oliva Domingos, obituary writer and aspiring novelist. Looking to parallel the literary success of his father, Bras is an ordinary individual striving for some balance apart from Brasil’s numerous sensory distractions, constantly reminded to grasp the importance of living and dying in the moment. To be sure, there are plenty of distractions in Brasil, such as his friendships, family, loves and dreams, but none contemplated without quiet deliberation and perhaps a strong cup of coffee. Such deliberations are shown through a series of vignettes of various time periods in his life, each detailing the circumstances of these spontaneous moments when living and dying get in the way of his daily routine. These momentous accumulations, with a Tarantino-esque flair for anachronism, are caressingly startling. It is here where Ba and Moon confound the reader as to the intersection of reality and our dreams, and the wonder of life and death.
Like fellow Brasilian Rubem Fonseca, Daytripper provides a peek into the culture of passion in Brasilian South America. Despite the instances of death and violence in the work, there is an equal amount of warmth between the characters in their mutual goal of embracing the present. Additionally, the undertones of social and ethnic equality perceived in Brasil, exhibited through Bras and comrade Jorge, is also refreshing. Violence, inevitable as it is everywhere, is simply accepted as a sporadic part of life, a tolerated cost of a naturally unhurried and carefree lifestyle.
The lush coloring from Dave Stewart and sharp sketches from Ba and Moon make Daytripper an achingly quick read. For as much as the story emphasizes a deliberate and dreamlike pondering about life, it’s so engaging one can’t help but devour the atmosphere.