Daytripper: Life or something like that
by rick olivares
Welcome to your new personal Brazilian gurus not named Paulo Coehlo.
In the award-winning Daytripper from Vertigo comics, twins brothers Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba tell a deeply moving story about Bras de Oliva Domingos who wants to write about life but instead writes about death as an obituary writer for the Sao Paulo Journal.
Daytripper is a wonderful and different extrapolation of such a cliché-ish term about a character’s life and times and eventual death. For the most part of this 10-chapter story that is set in the twins’ native Brazil, it always ends with Bras’ death just when he comes to a late realization that he should acted rather than remain aloof.
Yet each succeeding chapter moves forward in time with Bras having finally done “the right thing” such as living in with a girl he met or pursuing this other girl he’s smitten with and so forth. It’s a subtle way of saying that life cannot be lived backward only forward.
Bras grows out of what was once a sedate life and goes where the tides take him to paraphrase Moon’s line from Chapter Two where he meets the exotic looking Olinda, “You could say the tides brought me here. Oh, you know. I’ve been going to different and exotic places, meeting interesting people. Just going with the flow.”
This is reinforced later on when over lunch with his father who bares an anecdote in his relationship with Bras’ mother, “I told her I wanted to be a writer and that I knew a great romance was waiting for me to write it. She smiled and said she hoped a great romance was waiting for me to live it.”
However, as Bras soon learns, not everything turns out the way he expected it to be and with every flow there is the eventual ebb. The once steamy relationship he found himself in with Olinda has degenerated into one were hurtful words are used liberally and fights are routine. Obviously, love is out of the window and Bras finds himself alone once more. In the meantime though, tough as it may be, life has to go on.
Like most failed relationships, Bras rebounds and finds his wife but not after combatting his initial shyness. Wasn’t that the whole point – to go for it and leave no regret?
And yet, for all of Bras’ search for love and life with Ana (the girl he meets inside steals his heart and eventually marries), his parents continue to play an even larger role. All the words of advice they imparted that perhaps having entered through one ear only to exit through the other have come true. And in his father’s final message to his son via a letter, the singular truth about Daytripper is revealed: “Only when you accept that one day you’ll die can you let go and make the best out of life.”
Moon, who wrote this story, drops so many nuggets of wisdom that he gives Mitch Albom a run for his money. But don’t take them out of context at the risk of sounding sappy.
For all the beauty of Moon’s prose, Gabriel Ba’s artwork on Daytripper makes it a visual masterpiece. If those photos of Rio and Copacabana haven’t been enough to entice you then welcome to the Lonely Planet’s version of comics. Ba’s Brazil only adds to the exotic look and gives you a glimpse beyond the favelas and football stadia. There’s Rio Vermelho on Iemanja’s Day and the rural life of Acemira and the countryside.
The true beauty of Daytripper is that it can be interpreted in so many ways – an awakening, a journey, finding one’s place in the word, living life to the fullest, living not only for today but also for tomorrow. It will leave you thinking with the lush illustrations firmly imprinted in your mind like a postcard of a good memory from some beautiful far-flung place. And isn’t that the way a good story should be?
After reading Fabio Moon’s and Gabriel Ba’s Daytripper, you’ll hug your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/child/dog, make a phone call to your parents and tell them that you love them, or you’ll finally follow that childhood dream that you abandoned because life got in the way.
Or you can tell a dear friend that they should read Fabio Moon’s and Gabriel Ba’s Daytripper. And watch as it affects them just as much as it affected you.
Notes: Daytripper is available in trade paperback and deluxe edition format. I wholeheartedly recommend the deluxe edition because of the better paper and the additional sketches.