And the word for today is RELIEF, gigantic, enervating, soul-lightening relief. But that’s a story for another day.
Instead, I’m here to talk about Daytripper.
It’s a graphic novel from 2010, by Brazilian twins Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba (I apologise the lack of diacretics but they’re a little beyond me).
Ba is probably the more well known of the two, being the artist behind the ludicrously over-the-top Umbrella Academy – written by Gerard Way, of My Chemical Romance fame. UA looks a little more like this;
What Moon & Ba do on Daytripper is something special. It’s a quiet, moving story, a tale of the little moments that make up a life. More specifically, it’s the story of Bras de Oliva Domingos, obituary writer and struggling author. Although it took me a couple of chapters to get going, once I grew familiar with the text’s peculiar rhythm it became thoroughly entrancing, simultaneously melancholic and uplifting. It’s the sort of book thyou give someone who thought they’d never enjoy comics – it’s certainly it’s a world away from spandex-clad lads shooting laser-beams at each other. The story’s easy, gentle flow makes its telling deceptively simple; it takes real skill to allow the mundane to resonate in such a way, to make the quiet moments, the silences and subtle expressions, spark and glow. Undoubtedly, the fact that it’s a collaboration between siblings lifts the storytelling to another level; after all, the story can be read as a paean to family, to belonging, to shared experience.
A monologue from the last chapter really got to me, and I’ll repeat it here. If you are interested in reading Daytripper, stop now as this next bit may spoil the book a little. If not, keep reading and it might encourage you to pick it up after all. I’ll also say it’s not the same without the accompanying images, which are beautiful. … still with me? Okay – the context is this is a letter written thirty-odd years ago by Bras’ father, on the night that the father died and the Bras’ son was born. The letter has been discovered after all these years, hidden away in plain sight.
You’re holding this letter now because this is the most important day of your life. You’re about to have your first child. This means that the life you’ve built with such effort, that you’ve conquered, that you’ve earned, has finally reached the point where it no longer belongs to you. This baby is the new master of your life. He is the sole reason for your existence. You’ll surrender your life to him, give him your heart and soul because you want him to be strong, to be brave enough to make all his decisions without you. So when he finally grows older, he won’t need you. That’s because one day you know you won’t be there for him anymore. Only when you accept that you’ll die can you let go and make the best out of life. And that’s the big secret, that’s the miracle. Your life is out of your hands now, just like mine has been since the day you were born. I’m writing this letter to congratulate you and admit that you don’t need me anymore.