A couple of months ago our boysbookclub did another comic/graphic novel, the quite astonishing Building Stories by Chris Ware, which I’ve not had the chance to get written up on the blog yet. When I went into OK Comics in Leeds to buy a copy I got chatting to the guys in the shop and they recommended Daytripper to me which I’d not got round to reading until I was away last week when I sat down with a bottle of wine and read it through – what an astonishing book. I say book but it’s a comic, or is it a graphic novel – not knowing much about the field I’m not sure how best to describe it but it’s an amazing work of art. In reading this I got to thinking and chatting about the difference between the graphic and non graphic way of storytelling. In traditional books you can get lost in them in a way that I’m not sure you do in the graphic format but the graphic format possesses an intensity and punchiness that is very hard to replicate in traditional form. All I would say is that they are both great and even though I’ve not read huge amounts of comic/graphic novels I’d recommend anyone who is perhaps skeptical of the format to give it a go and you could do a lot worse that start off with Daytripper by the Brazillian duo Gabriel Ba and Fabion Moon.
The story centres around the theme that everybody dies, it’s a natural part of life, but it’s how you live your life that’s important and specifically what you make of key moments that occur throughout your life. It’s a quiet, dreamlike and somewhat melancholy tale with elements of fantasy/ magic realism that made my really reflect on my own life and like all the best art it holds up a mirror to yourself. Ultimately though after a period of reflection I found myself uplifted by the tale told.
Bras de Oliva Domingos is an obituary writer who dreams of being a famous novelist like his father and who questions where his life is heading compared to the people that he writes his obits on. Each chapter deals with a period in Bras life but not necessarily in chronological order so it starts when Bras is 32 and finishes when he is 76 but between time will skip through his life going backwards and forwards as his life and dreams unfold. Within each chapter Bras faces a key moment (even if he doesn’t realise it is a key moment) that may or may not have an impact on his life depending on how he reacts and each chapter also ends with a twist which jolts you and makes you reflect on what are your own key moments and how you might have reacted or not as the case may be. Of course our lives may well have turned out differently if we had acted differently, what about that woman that you saw in a supermarket once and shared a look between – was she the love of your life? did you do anything about it or watch her walk away? The book niggles away at you effectively asking you what do you want to do with your life and if you are not doing that right now then you best get on and do something about it because you don’t know what’s around the corner.
At it’s heart therefore as the book reinforces the fact that everybody dies it questions what is important to you and draws the conclusion that it is friends, family, your loved ones and taking control of your life that are what is important. This may sound obvious but it is done in such a beautifully affecting way. I was drawn while reading it to a conversation that I had with my father once. He was advanced in years and his health was failing to such an extent that he could no longer live in the house that he had bought from when the first brick was laid, worked hard and brought up his family in it. I took him back to have a pint in the local and say goodbye to the house and the area as we drove away he simply turned to me and said “Son, always remember houses are just bricks it’s people and family that are important”. It was a very prophetic and poignant moment and this book brought this and many other reflections of my life racing to the forefront of my mind.
Brilliant stuff, wonder what OK Comics will recommend next as this will take some beating.