by Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon
2011, 256 pages, 6.7 x 10.2 x 0.5 inches (softcover)
I don't think it would be too hyperbolic of me to say Daytripper is one of the best graphic novels I've ever read. It's a big story told in small moments. The epic, emotional core is powerful and life affirming, but brothers Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá get there through the lightest touch of character.
Without giving too much away (because there is so much to discover), the story is about Brás de Oliva Domingos, an aspiring novelist stuck writing newspaper obituaries. His life is both unique and unremarkable, and we meet Brás at a different age in each chapter. Theses ages are told in a non-linear fashion, and mostly feature life-changing moments. The twist is that these moments rarely seem life changing as they are happening, as is usually the case in real life. We live each day as if it is any other, only noting the important bits later.
For Moon and Bá, recognizing the personal is a matter of life or death. Brás spends most of the book pining for more in his life, always dissatisfied with where he is. It's as if he's constantly waiting for his "real life" to begin. Moon and Bá suggest that life isn't the point when you finally find the success you've been craving, or when you finally meet the love of your life, or any number of other things. Your life is now, today, in whatever situation you happen to be in. Life is happening all around you, and it's crucial that you not miss it.
The storytelling alone is incredible, but the art pushes the novel to even greater heights. Moon and Bá employ a realistic style that makes their São Paulo feel like the real city. This is crucial considering the more fantastic elements they periodically introduce into the book; they tiptoe across magical realism, and the art helps to keep you grounded. Their work is incredibly rich in detail, while the color has an almost sun bleached quality to it that appears lifelike. This is a masterful novel by any metric.
– Alex Strine