Page 45 Review by Stephen
"In order to go after your dreams, you must live your life. Wake up, before it's too late."
Quiet, contemplative and so beautiful to behold, this is the most startlingly original book from Vertigo since Paul Pope's HEAVY LIQUID. Every fluid stroke is steeped in humanity or the living world bustling around it, and it's so full of grace I could cry.
From the Brazilian brothers who brought us DE TALES and the artists on books like UMBRELLA ACADEMY and CASANOVA, a book about family, fatherhood and friendship; an outlook on life and the mortality that defines it; twelve separate yet integrated stories about the life and different deaths of aspiring novelist Brás de Oliva Domingos.
Aged merely 32, Brás is feeling old. His father is such a successful Brazilian author that the literary community is throwing a great gala in his honour tonight, while he's stuck writing obituaries for a newspaper. Oh yes, and neither his father nor mother appear to have remembered his birthday. So he's feeling a bit morbid, he's feeling a little dejected and he's... well, he's sulking. Nevertheless he hoists on the tuxedo and makes his way to the Theatro Municipal just early enough to grab some smokes and a beer from a local bar. Which is where a different family's argument ensures that his family will never forget his birthday again.
It's quite the startling conclusion to the first chapter of a twelve issue mini-series - the death of its lead character. But make no mistake, Brás is the main protagonist and successive instalments unveil what might have happened if Brás had died earlier or lived a lot longer, chosen different paths and come to understand what really matters. He makes bad decisions and stagnates; he finds true love at last and marries. He lives to see some give birth, others die, and his best friend run away in terror. In one instance he respects Jorge's decision, in another he drives long into the night to find him.
"Jorge was his best friend, and that's what friends do. They care. They find each other and stick together when things get rough. Friends are worth every effort. Friends matter."
Twice Brás dies because he believes in friendship, but as young Jorge says, "If it weren't for people, life would be a fuckin' desert". Indeed on almost every page there's an exchange to give one pause for thought and there's some very sound advice for a Brás who so often wants to shut out life altogether, particularly from his writing, from the very source of his ambition, his father, who here speaks of his mother:
"I remember when we first met. I told her I wanted to be a writer and that I knew a great romance was waiting for me to write it. She smiled and said that she hoped a great romance was waiting for me to live it."
The most affecting chapter for me was the one in which an older, wiser and more successful Brás is away from his wife and son on a book tour, yet still there in every corner of the house. He sends letters and texts and emails every day and his son could not be more proud of him. His wife smiles at a mobile phone call or messages left on the answering machine, telling her he misses them, seeing them mirrored in a happy couple, but always reassuring her he'll be back home soon. His son carries his father's books with him to school even though he's too young to understand them and, during a disquieting bout of bullying, more eagerly awaits his return. We know from the start that Brás will never be home again, but it's so well crafted with those messages received that the illusion is maintained throughout that he will. So reliable is he that when there are "no new messages" it's assumed that the internet server is broken. It isn't.
The book's as close as I've found to an exploration and distillation about the secrets to love, life and happiness outside of Kahlil Gibran: comprehending, appreciating and enjoying what you have before something goes so catastrophically wrong that you yearn for the past; not dwelling on others' perceived greater fortune or resenting what's missing, but acknowledging and embracing what you do have in front of you. Because there's nothing like death to put life into perspective.
"Wake up, dude. You're missing it."
Full colour sketchbook in the back. The brothers write, "The most difficult thing wasn't trying to create a world that would look real. No, the hardest thing was creating a world that would feel real."
It certainly resonated with me, whilst Paul Pope, Jeff Smith and Gerard Way line up to sing its praises. Terry Moore of STRANGERS IN PARADISE writes:
"DAYTRIPPER is the most engaging story I've read all year. [This] tale of the life and deaths of a writer is the creative love-child of Eisner and Fellini at their best; a love story grounded in stark reality, yet awash in the magic of circumstance. DAYTRIPPER is a fascinating puzzle I will be contemplating for the rest of my life."
Illustrated introduction by Craig Thompson of BLANKETS.