I am a fan of the graphic novel form. There is much, as I have addressed in previous posts about the graphic novel, to be learned from this relatively new way of combining writing and art. So, when a good friend recommended that I read daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba, I did not need much convincing.
Set in Brazil, this story is structured in the past, present and future. It revolves around the life of Bras de Oliva Domingos. The novel is sectioned into chapters, each chapter a different year in Bras’ life, and each chapter ends with Bras’ death. Perhaps, this is a way to show the reader the different possibilities inherent in a life and how as easily as we can begin new things, these things can also come to unexpected ends.
When I began reading this graphic novel, I thought the situations too contrived, the dialogue and captions too scripted. Some things felt forced. However, I trudged on. I reasoned that maybe I was missing the point; putting too much emphasis on style and not enough on sentiment. Three-quarters of the way into the book, I realized I was gripped, and barreling toward the finish to conjure a stable understanding of the novel. I will admit that this book is very cleverly structured. Bras is presented at different points in his life, and with each new point, we are given a new perspective on who he is as a person and his relationship with the other characters in the book. Each chapter fills in pieces left open by the previous chapter, amounting to a big jigsaw puzzle that also requires the reader’s perspective and contemplation to come into a fully-formed picture.
What I most enjoyed about this book was the artwork. The artwork carries a depth that paints this story in a more ‘real’ light. The characters’ aches and sadness, their joys and misgivings, their weaknesses and baser natures, are exposed in gestures and expressions, all adroitly captured in stunning visuals.
Covering themes of family, death and the fragility of life, achieving dreams, lost dreams, the art of writing, being a writer, developing a sense of self, friendship, love, parenthood and all the messiness in between the day-to-day of our collective lives, this graphic novel does surely leave you thinking about the brevity of our existence and perhaps the purpose of our lives. Lovers leave, family members die, friends abandon, dreams fall through, crises take over and doubts creep into the mind, but love finds a way to blossom and leave a hope that pulls the characters through.
This book merits a few readings, and not just to better understand what the talented twin-brother duo of Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba are trying to convey, but also just to admire the artwork and appreciate that life is lived with a better understanding, when presented with the concept of purpose and then finally, death.
If you’re up for something different, I would say, give daytripper a try.
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