I’ve laughed out loud reading a comic book many times. I’ve felt tense. I’ve been shocked. I’ve been angered. I’ve been appalled. The last time I remember being moved close to tears was probably the end of Y: The Last Man. But that was just close. Daytripper, on the other hand, hit the mark.
How many times can you see the same man die before it gets repetitive? The answer, apparently, is about 10. The simple premise of the series is that we see this man’s death in each issue, somehow at different points in his life. Each issue is basically just a one shot story, and yet, somehow, the series inexplicably tells us a complete story as well. We get pieces of Bras de Oliva Domingos’s life as well as portraits of his loved ones. By the last beautifully heartbreaking and yet inspiring issue, it’s all very real and it’s hard not to feel the impact of the last pages and see pieces of your own life in it.
Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, as writers and artists on this series, manage to do something that is at once literary, like you’d expect in a novel of the highest caliber, and yet still appropriate for the comic book medium. It’s work like this that I wish everyone who’s ever condescended to fans of comics would take the time to read. No, it’s not a “graphic novel.” It’s still a comic book. Which is simply a medium and Ba and Moon use that medium to tell a moving and brilliantly crafted story that is ultimately about living life to the fullest and appreciating every small moment.
At the risk of getting spoilery, the ending is written specifically for fathers and sons. Now, it’s been said that male authors typically have daddy issues. It’s been said that stories about fathers and sons are the stuff of myth. I’ve said these things myself. And I have not said them as a criticism. But this is not that. This is a take on the father son dynamic that is new to me, but is so real, so recognizable, that it’s like I was reading it in a dream. Ba and Moon hit on just what being a father means and how that changes your view of your own father. And in a greater sense, what death means and how that changes your view of life. This is such an eloquent and understated parallel, that it literally just occurred to me as I wrote that last sentence.
This book is timeless and I will likely be rereading it over the years to come. I can’t recommend this highly enough. Even if you’ve never read a comic book, I think you need to read this book. If you’ve lived, you should read this book. If you’re a father, a son, a daughter, a wife or a human being, you most definitely should read this book.