Getting Graphic: Daytripper by Alex Correa
I remember picking up the very first issue of Daytripper with high hopes and high expectations as, from my experience, Vertigo titles have a very high success rate in terms of both personal and critical acclaim. That said, upon reaching the end of the first issue, I vowed not to pick up the rest of the series (ten issues, in total). The artwork was great, pacing was fantastic and for a first issue of a mini-series, it set up both a likeable and believable protagonist in a very original story. My problem was the ending. A shock twist that I will not spoil in this review that I felt, at the time, was purely sensational and meant for shock value. I thought it was cheap and I thought it was lazy writing. After having read past that initial chapter, I can admit my mistake and proclaim that I jumped the gun. The true twist is revealed on the very last page of the second chapter. However, that wasn't what redeemed the book for me.
In what opens with the Craig Thompson introduction stating "An honest meditation on mortality" juxtaposed with an image of a skeleton, Daytripper exposes readers to an overwhelming reality of true-to-life circumstances in the day of an average man. Set in present-day Brazil, the story revolves around Bras de Oliva Dominos and his struggles with being an aspiring writer while living under the enormous shadow of his father, a celebrated literary giant. Each chapter encapsulates a different milestone in Bras' life from his first kiss to his son's birth to a plane crash. Told in a non-linear narrative, Daytripper captures the extraordinary, as well as the mundane, with sharp brevity and heartfelt exposition.
Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon collaborate on both the writing and the artwork to recreate something faithful to their native Brazil. Their non-American approach in art brings an expressive style that provides a vibrant energy and gives a new dimension of life to the characters and their setting. It's the fluidity in their line work that amplifies certain scenes: the quiet seems quieter and the action just leaps out of the confinement of its panel. Every illustrated aspect of the country, be it city streets, monuments or citizenry, has an authenticity that's impossible for non-natives to replicate.
This isn't just one of the most creative and well crafted comics that the Vertigo line has seen (and that, itself, is a tall order) but one of those ever so rare, potentially life changing reads. Daytripper is a celebration of life, love, friendship and culture that is relentless and unrepentant in its hard hitting reality that grips you and dares you not to let go until you've re-examined your own life. This very personal and engaging tales do in twenty-two pages what most novelists take an entire novel to accomplish. And it does so ten times over the span of its ten issue narrative.
Not enough? Well, why else would it win an Eisner for best limited series? How is it that it managed to win best single issue/story at the Harvey Awards? What did voters in the UK see in Daytripper that lead them to choose it as their favourite new comic book at the Eagle Awards? Although it's specific in its setting, this much-lauded and much-celebrated graphic novel is one of the most universally appealing pieces of art I've ever experienced, easily in my top ten of all time and will definitely be on most lists as one of the best comics of the decade.
You can be rest assured that I've learned my lesson and will give new comics the benefit of the doubt from here on out. I couldn't imagine not having read this beautiful comic in my lifetime and neither should you.