Pick of the Week
What did the
There is nothing quite as satisfying in comics as the discovery of something new that is not only great, but totally unlike anything else you are reading. Perhaps that’s why so many number one issues are selected as the Pick of the Week. When you discover something new that you really connect with, the promise of what the future may hold is enticing.
Equally exciting is when you discover that a comic book creator is equally as talented in one area as they are in another. Twin brothers Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon are well known and highly regarded artists in the industry. And while they have written comics in the past, they are not known for it, and I have certainly never read any of them. When I heard that they had a new ten issue mini-series coming out of DC Comics’s Vertigo line called Daytripper, I was intrigued enough to read the first issue of something I would normally wait for in collected edition.
Other than the fact that it was being written and drawn by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, I didn’t know anything about Daytripper before I read it. I did no research. I made no phone calls. I sent no e-mails. Sometimes it’s more exciting that way.
Once I began reading what I found was the story of one day in the life of a man told with such sparse elegance and beauty that I was immediately enchanted — by the main character, by the setting, and by the art and the writing. In Daytripper #1 we meet Bras de Olivia Domingos on his 32nd birthday. He is a obituary writer for the Sao Paulo Journal but he’d really much rather be a novelist, if only he could find the time and the inspiration to actually work on his book. This sounds like half of the people I know, but most of those people don’t also have a famous writer for a father who is being honored for his forty year writing career at a big time gala event being held on Bras’s birthday.
Daytripper #1 is very contemplative. Bras spends much of the issue pondering his life as he makes his way through the series of disappoints that make up his day. In the morning he can’t find the will to write. A phone call from his mother is all about his father’s gala and doesn’t even mention his birthday. He finds no inspiration at work. His best friend won’t commiserate they way he wants to. His girlfriend's flight was delayed and she won’t make it home in time to keep him company at the gala. Oh, and he’s out of cigarettes. It doesn’t sound like much of a birthday, and it isn’t. Bras is very unsatisfied with his life the way that, again, many people I know who are in their early 30s are. There are levels of Bras’s dissatisfaction that I found entirely relatable, and having just turned 32 myself I found that at times this issue hit very close to my emotional home. I was entirely and completely sucked into this story and this main character and that made the ending all the more shocking. When I finished the issue I was emotionally spent and had to immediately go back and read it again.
Thats’s a sign of some great comic booking right there.
Technically speaking, Fabio Moon is said to have written Daytripper #1 and Gabriel Ba is said to be the artist, but being twin brothers who both write and draw and both live in Sao Paolo, Brazil I would imagine that this was a total collaborative effort which is why I don’t want to credit either one specifically for the writing and the art. I will say this: both the writing and the art are fantastic.
When I finished the issue, and I came down from the emotional roller coaster, I thought about what I had read and in my mind I had thought that I had read a sparse and contemplative tale of a man assessing his life on his birthday. The kind of slow and serene character study that I really dig. But when I looked back it the issue it is in fact quite dense. There are a lot of words and a lot of captions and a lot of talking. Now, I don’t mean that this was jam packed with words in the way that early James Robinson Starman was jam-packed with words. I mean that compared to my memory of the story, looking back I expected each page to have two or three panels that consisted mostly of Bras sipping coffee and smoking a cigarette and thinking over his failures. Despite all the talking in this book, it never feels wordy. It feels serene. Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon totally nailed the atmosphere of contemplation, of a day spent mostly rooting around inside one’s own head.
The art in Daytripper #1 is phenomenal. If you are at all familiar with Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon’s past work you will find it instantly familiar, but much less cartoony than The Umbrella Academy or Casanova. The story takes place in their home town in Brazil and it looks authentic. The people look Brazilian and the city itself is full of personality. In the beginning I said that this book was unlike anything else that I am reading right now and a lot of that has to do with the unique look and feel that has been created through the art.
Having gone into the first issue totally blind I allowed myself a bit of research once I was finished and I now know that the next issue takes place on Bras’s 21st birthday, which was referenced in this issue. The idea of a mini-series exploring the important birthdays in a man’s life and crafting an overall narrative portrait of a character through disconnected days is an exciting one, especially if it is going to be told with the skill and with the care of Daytripper #1.
So many times I typed "Daytrippers"