“Daytripper” is a story that emphasizes the importance of small events in one’s life and how those events can affect that person in huge, bombastic ways. Twin writer/artists Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (along with colorist Dave Stewart and letterer Sean Konot) have crafted a ten part miniseries that upends expectations and utilizes strong storytelling techniques to express the journey of the Brazilian character Brás de Oliva Domingos, an obituary writer, who must come to terms with universal issues that every human must experience throughout their lives. There are many paths in life, as “Daytripper” attests to, and Moon and Bá take the reader on a journey that will forever be imprinted on their being. Brás is the everyman, which makes it that much more powerful. Family, relationships, friendships, life, and inevitable death: all of these experiences and more are beautifully explored through inspired writing and gorgeous artwork.
Moon and Bá have crafted a story that may confound some readers. This is not a conventional book in any sense of the word, but one that must be allowed to wash over the reader. Deep emotions run rampant and are laid bare, through words and art, in a way that overwhelms and makes the reader stop and linger for a while. Pure feelings are what the writer/artists want us to experience through their book, and they have succeeded possibly beyond even their own imagining. Compelled to rush through the book in order to see what happens to Brás, one may (nay, must) turn through the pages more than once in order to feel the heartbreak, love, lust, and, simply, life, that courses through this book’s veins. By simply observing the characters’ facial expressions, body language, and experiences, life comes “alive” on the page. One of the characters compares life to a book and says, “No book is complete without its end”. The ending(s) to Moon and Bá’s masterpiece transform this quote into truth.
Throughout “Daytripper”, the eyes serve as a window into the human psyche. Every emotion is felt through Moon and Bá’s brilliant and evocative use of character expression through the eyeball. Innocence, fear, love, hatred. Name an emotion and its present in these richly detailed lives of players on the page. The eighth issue focuses on Brás’ wife Ana and their son Miguel, detailing their lives while the man they both love is out of town. Ana’s face while she listens to Miguel recount his dream is one of motherly devotion and love. Holding her coffee to the side, she seems to be listening intently while Miguel gesticulates with eyes and mouth wide open. This is just one of many examples where, if one did not read the words on the page, emotion and story could still be communicated effortlessly. While at work, Ana is on the phone with Brás and, in three panels, the reader is taken aback with how complex a face can be portrayed in a work of art. In the first panel, she has a look of embarrassment as Brás clearly is professing confessions of love. The second panel is where pure magic occurs. She’s silent and listening on the phone as her hand leaves her face. The eyes and facial expression betray so many emotions, that the panel bursts with life. Moon and Bá, as evidenced in this one simple panel, prove how adept they are at transforming simple life moments into something magical and monumental. They take the reader on a journey.
In the same issue, Miguel’s love for his father shines through his wide innocent eyes. While bullies taunt the young boy, Miguel just stares with his mouth closed in a tight “O” of acknowledgment and mild shock. He holds his father’s novel like a holy book, never letting teasing pupils get into his head. Family is important to him and he finds all the solace he needs in the his mother and father. This is indicative of the entire narrative of “Daytripper”, with family relationships being tested, strengthened, strained, and also lost to death’s inevitable call. Ana’s anguish toward the end of the issue is not “stereotypical” or overdone in the art or writing. Her face becomes real and, because Moon and Bá are able to bring these characters to life, the reader will recognize themselves here and throughout this epic saga.
Dave Stewart, colorist extraordinaire, adds his prowess in the art of coloring to this book and his contribution is essential in making “Daytripper” have such an impact on the reader . When Miguel runs up to his despairing mother in the aforementioned issue, the colors transform the scene. Dark purple and blue add to the haunting quality of the art before Miguel enters the room. When he does, Miguel is backlit by a brightening cornflower blue and his shadow emphasizes the strength and resilience of such a precocious boy. The room becomes brighter and the lighter shades of purple and blue transform the scene into one of life instead of despair. Stewart’s colors throughout the book’s various journeys bring life to the proceedings and assist Moon and Bá in their quest to express life itself.
One of the central themes of “Daytripper” is that one must acknowledge the myriad amounts of paths that one’s life can take before its inevitable end. No matter which detour or twist that may come, one’s life is built upon a wild ride. According to the creators of the book, in order to live, one must experience life. Every event and relationship is connected and interconnected throughout the narrative, making this tale a living, breathing entity. Possibilities are endless and what may seem real or unreal does not matter. Feeling and emotion matters. Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (with the assistance of Dave Stewart and Sean Konot) take their readers on a journey they may not understand at first. But, through the difficult task of expressing on paper what can only be felt, they have succeeded in creating a work of art that is intricate and, as Brás is so aptly called throughout “Daytripper”, a “little miracle”.
Written by: Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá
Art: Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Sean Konot
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Pages: 272 pages