Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Comics Review -- "Daytripper" by Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba

Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba are twin brothers from Sao Paulo, Brazil, with more than 15 years of experience in comics. I wasn't familiar with their work until I picked up the two collected volumes of "The Umbrella Academy," written by Gerard Way. Their ability to depict hyperkinetic surrealism adds a lot to that gonzo superhero series. So I was intrigued when I received the non-superheroic "Daytripper, both written and illustrated by the brothers.

"Daytripper" is a much more somber affair. When we first meet Bras de Oliva Domingos, he's 32 years old, unenthusiastically composing obituaries for a daily newspaper. His stand-offish father is a revered and best-selling writer, and Bras finds it difficult living in the older man's shadow, especially since he wants to write a book of his own. On the way to a black-tie tribute to his father, Bras walks into the wrong bar and comes face-to-face with death in its most concrete form.

The subsequent chapters of "Daytripper" shuttle back and forth in time, presenting a day in Bras's life at 21, at 11, at 38. He falls in love for the first time, loses his best friend, awaits the birth of his son. But each time, the day ends with an unforeseen, often utterly capricious, tragedy.

I'm not sure I would have stuck with "Daytrippers" had I read it as a monthly pamphlet. Across ten issues, ending each chapter with a version of Bras's death begins to feel gimmicky by about Chapter Four. But as the clues begin to pile up, and Bras's continuing encounters with mortality hint of a possible resolution, the narrative becomes clearer and compelling.

"Daytripper" is a trippy, thoughtful piece of Latin-flavored magic realism, serious in intent, but joyous in its details. I'm hyped to see the next Umbrella Academy limited series, but this graphic volume was a welcome side-trip.

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