Friday, November 11, 2011


Last week at the library I picked up a graphic novel that had been mentioned as one of the best graphic stories for last year. I'm a huge fan of graphic novels but I tend to focus on the more unique stories. I seek out those novels that touch on unusual topics. Alison Bechdel's Fun Home and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis were two that I've read in the last year and found fascinating. I had read a review of Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba and knew I had to pick it up. If the review hadn't caught me, the cover would have (yes I judge books by their covers, also by their titles). Daytripper might be one of the most unique and interesting stories I've read in a while. It's an existential graphic novel with a twist.

Daytripper is all about death. In each chapter, the main character Bras is killed. In a each chapter there is a brief obituary about his life and each section of the book is at a different age. Normally he is killed at a particularly tragic moment, one of the great moments of his life. We see how his death affects others based on where he is in his life. The 11 year old boy receives a very different send-off than the 48 year old man. And through these obituaries (Bras himself is an obituary writer and an author), we get a further peek into his life. In each chapter he loses his life at a particularly poignant moment: after meeting the women of his dreams, traveling on a book tour, after the birth of his first son. But in each story we see the character progress as he accepts life and starts to live more fully.

I noticed that each death, at a later stage of his life, started to impact me more. The first story is all about how he can't write, how he's trying to live up to his very successful author father, how his life is falling apart. Although tragic, his death didn't impact me. Perhaps because they tried to show that Bras wasn't really living. With each story, I felt more and more for the character. His deaths seemed more tragic. A particularly heart-wrenching death was when his son was six and idealized his father. Bras is traveling and the story is of the tender moments between him and his family. And at the end, I cried. Not because he died, but because he lived. The story reminded me of all the living we have to do and we better get to it. I saw how the obituaries changed. In these chapters I got to watch an entire life, and multiple deaths. And each seemed worse. A great character, an inventive way to tell the story, and some incredible emotions. This one has to be one of the best graphic novels I've read. It will find a place on my bookshelf.

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