The Critical Optimist

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Daytripper By Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba

“Sometimes we die to prove we lived”

Daytripper is a comic book like no other.  I began reading it with little to no knowledge about the book’s premise and I struggled to grasp what was going on as I read it, and it wasn’t until I finished it that I truly understood what it was about.  Daytripper starts chillingly, with Bras, the main character standing in a restaurant in a pool of blood.  The book gives us some poetic lines and then it shifts to another scene, presumably beforehand.

Bras is a writer, for a newspaper in Brazil.  He writes obituaries.  His father is a famous novelist, and we can assume Bras feels the need to live up to his reputation.  He is working on a book himself, but it is a struggle.  The book draws you in, lulling you with its cartoon style, almost abstract art.  Then suddenly, at the end of the first chapter, Bras is shot by a robber, and killed.

Imagine my surprise, when next chapter features him again, fully alive.  He is a bit younger this time, on vacation at the beach.  He and his friend go sightseeing, shopping, and he meets a girl, but yet again, Bras dies at the end of the chapter, drowning this time.

Confused, I read on, and realized that as a matter of fact, each chapter ends is Bras’ death.  There is no resurrection explained, rather, after each death, a new chapter simply begins, at a new stage in Bras’ life this time.  One gets the sense, that Bras is not restarting his life, alternately, each chapter represents a different possibility, a variant universe in which Bras life takes a different turn.  While this may seem confusing, it actually works quite well.  Daytripper aims to tell about death, and it does this quite well with the multiple stories about Bras.  By using the same character for these dozen or so short stories, the reader develops a sort of rapport with Bras, we understand who he is, where hes coming from, and why he does the things he does.

Daytripper features a variety of different themes that speak to the twists and turns of everyday life.  One chapter, Bras is in love, another, he is at the peak of his potential, having finally made it big as a writer.  One chapter in particular, where Bras is murdered by Jorge, his best friend approaches the complexity and fickleness of human relationships.

Daytripper is a book, full to the brim with motifs of death.  Bras is a writer of obituaries, and his constant thinking about it is reflected in the reader’s rumination as they make their way through the story (or stories, depending on how you look at it).  But despite the morbidity of the narrative, Daytripper is inspiring, with a conclusion that offers hope for life.  Daytripper produces a verdict that life is fragile, and can expire at any time.  It encourages us to make the best of our time on earth, so that we, like bras, can leave the world satisfied with the live we had lived, and the legacy we’ve left behind.  But what’s the great thing about Daytripper? it never explicitly states any of these things.  It encourages readers to infer, and figure these things out all on their own.


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