"Daytripper" - Graphic Novel Review

Daytripper
Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá
2011, Vertigo/DC

"Daytripper" is a graphic novel about the life of the fictional Brás de Oliva Domingos, and the things that are important in his life at different times. They make this point by dividing the story up into chapters, each titled by his age in years. And at the end of each he dies, and there's something resembling an obituary (tying in with the newspaper job he has at 32, the first chapter) talking about what mattered to him and what he'd achieved.

I have really mixed feelings about this one: the writing - particularly the prose, the things people say - is outstanding. Better than any other graphic novel I've ever read. And the artwork is likewise superb: just slightly rough-hewn, but incredibly evocative and beautifully coloured - a real pleasure to look at.

The problem is, he dies in almost every chapter. Which gets depressing. And then we have the discontinuity that he is, effectively, resurrected. A few of the things that happened - particularly things to cause some of his deaths - seemed unduly improbable. And I had trouble forgiving them for the end they brought to his friend Jorge - who was arguably an even more interesting character than our protagonist. And who died in a way I found most unlikely.

Despite the graphic novel's problems, its many virtues make it required reading for fans: really good stuff.

Postscript about details: Moon and Bá are apparently twin brothers, despite their dissimilar surnames. They're based in Brazil, as is the story. But it appears to have been written in English: no translator is named, and I've never seen prose that read this well after translation.