The 12 Days of Comics: 2010 - Day 3
"Daytripper" by Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba (DC/Vertigo)
Demographic: Art-Focused Meditative OR The Life Affirming Romantic
Selected by: Ryan Claytor
Subsequent Interview by: Justin Giampaoli
Ryan: This was the monthly series that kept me regularly visiting my local comic shop this past year. "Daytripper" is a 10 issue mini-series about a Brazilian fellow, Bras, who dies at the end of each issue. It's an odd premise, sure, but it certainly made for some fabulous conversations. I began looking at this book as a meditation on life, the various directions it can take, and the frailty of our existence.
Fabio Moon's art work on this title is inspiring. His liquid brush strokes race across the page to create vivid characters and immersive backgrounds. The art is enhanced by the masterful colors of Dave Stewart. Better known for his work on titles like “Hellboy” and “Conan,” Stewart adapts his palette to perfectly suit the Brazilian brothers' storytelling. Each page is awash in subtle hues and gorgeous watercolor textures. It's hard for me not to get hyperbolic when talking about how gorgeous this book is.
There were times, near the beginning of the series, where I found the writing to be a little syrupy, but it was something I came to appreciate more as authorial voice once the series took its stride. It just felt genuine; albeit a tad flowery. I started to see it as another metaphor for life. The slightly saccharine exposition reminded me of a good friend with a mildly annoying habit. The friend is not going to change, and it doesn't do any good to resist it. Once I accepted that, the series was an absolute joy. My only hope is that this caveat does not turn away interested readers, as this was far-and-away my favorite series of 2010.
In closing, I can't take credit for that second demographic label (many thanks to my co-writer, Justin Giampaoli, for that one), but I thought it so fitting that I couldn't help but co-opt it. Despite the number of times the protagonist dies, "Daytripper" really is a life-affirming narrative. At the end of each issue, I felt appreciative for being able to experience life and astounded by its beauty that was echoed in the 22 pages I just read. And, truth be told, I'm probably a hopeless romantic for allowing myself to feel that way.
Justin: I hereby invoke the veto.
I want to be careful not to damn “Daytripper” with faint praise. While you liked this book more than I did and were more forgiving of the saccharine moments, it is clearly one of the best comics of 2010. I think you've hit all of the strong points, including the immaculate coloring of Dave Stewart. I'll just add that what I took away from this book is that there aren't any "right" or "wrong" choices in life. There are merely different choices, which lead to different paths, which lead to a new set of infinite choices. The old adage that life is about the journey certainly applies. At the end of it all, this was the book that you and I discussed the most this year, and I think that fact is something you can't easily dismiss. Anything that prompts such discourse can truly be labeled "art."
Ryan: Here, here. On one hand, I feel like I could talk about this book forever, while on the other, I can't think of anything we haven't already said. As you mentioned, this was easily our most discussed book of the past year. That should be reason enough to nudge it into any "Best Of" list of 2010. Maybe in closing I'll just mention that as of today, "Daytripper" is only available in back issues. So, if you'd like to present this as a holiday gift you'll have to do some long-box hunting (WORTH IT!). The trade paperback collecting the entire series is currently scheduled for release on February 8th, 2011.