Daytripping Before Sunrise
Over the past week or so I’ve been re-reading one of my very favourite comic books; Daytripper by Brazilian twin brothers Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba.
Daytripper was a ten issue limited series published by Vertigo in 2010 and the last time I read it was probably around 2014 when they released a deluxe hardcover collection of the run.
I loved this book from the very first issue, I was initially attracted to it as I was a fan of the brothers’ art style and the small amount of their creator-owned work I had been exposed to at the time really spoke to me.
Ba & Moon aren’t afraid of taking jobs and doing grander, more high concept work when they need to. Both can do action, sci-fi, horror and other crazy genre pieces when they choose, but when they work together on a project they also write they seem to lean more into deeper, more contemplative stories. This is certainly the case for Daytripper.
Each issue follows a snippet of time, often just a day, in the life of the protagonist, Bras de Olivia Domingos. We jump around in time and see him as different stages of his life. In one issue he may be thirty-three, working and living in his famous author of a fathers shadow. In a later issue we see Bras as a wide eyed eleven year old who is full of joy and in another chapter of the story we meet him again as an old man, a grandfather, who can look back on the moments that meant the most in his life.
Every issue of the story is part of a larger narrative, they all tie together, but each is a singular and complete story on its own. When reading the collected edition it almost feels like you’re watching an anthology show; the players are the same but the stories are slightly different.
I’ve buried the lead though, intentionally, as I hope I’ve been able to convince you to check the book out regardless…
There is a hook to Daytripper that makes it unique and really gives the story it’s overarching theme: Bras dies at the end of every issue.
The day or two we spend with him in each particular chapter is the end of his life. It doesn’t matter if he’s a twenty something, in his forties or that sweet eleven year old kid, by the end of the story he dies.
And death seems to be the point of the story, no, scratch that. Life is the point of the story. However fleeting it is, however hard or joyful it is at times, death is always around the corner. Through Bras we see a man doing something we all do; contemplating the past, considering the future and experiencing the now.
That leads me on to the second part of this double header. While I was reading through the book I also re-watched the first of a trilogy of movies I adore. Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise. While I was watching it I noticed a lot of connective tissue between Daytripper and not just the Before series, but a lot of Linklater’s movies.
Before Sunrise is the 1995 movie starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as Jesse and Celine, two twenty something wandering souls who meet on a train heading into Vienna and decide to spent the day and night together wandering the city before he catches a flight home to America and she boards another train home to Paris.
The two get to know each other, talk about everything and nothing for hours, get up to some mischief and, though it is never stated, fall in love.
They know their time together is limited, that they’ll likely never see each other again after that night, but they choose to enjoy the time they have together rather than linger on what may happen in the future.
The fact that nine years later both in movie time and real life the sequel, Before Sunset, picks back up with the two characters is beside the point. In fact, it is the point of the second film. The third, 2013’s Before Midnight, comes back a further nine years later. So I think you might start to see a similarity between this series and Daytripper.
Until recently I’ve never considered an adaption of that comic book to be something I wanted or needed, but if Richard Linklater were to do it, with a mixture of the real work, conversational, somewhat meandering filmmaking he can do so well mixed with his more experimental etherealism he used in A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life, I think he would be the perfect director to not only capture the tone of Ba & Moon’s work, but bring their style to life as well.