Comics

Obituary Writing from the Desk of a 'Daytripper'

For Daytripper, Brazilians Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá explored a volley of riches and failure from the desk of an obituary writer.


Daytripper

Publisher: Vertigo
Length: 256
Writer: Gabriel Bá, Fábio Moon
Contributors: Dave Stewart (Colorist), Sean Konot (Letterer)
Publication Date: 2011-02-08
Amazon

Much was made of obituary writing last year, with The New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan combing the archives to discover that "the number of front-page obits more than doubled in 2012 over the year before." Sullivan noted that 30 obituaries appeared on page A1 in 2012, including those that marked the passing of Maurice Sendak, Joe Paterno, and more.

In early 2012, the first person in history to have rowed across the Atlantic Ocean finally met his fate at age 74. Adventurer John Fairfax's rather exceptional New York Times obituary reads like Wes Anderson. It gained a great deal of online traction for its rundown of extraordinary details, with Fairfax having shot up a campground as a nine-year old Italian Boy Scout (injuring no one), faced down a shark, pledged suicide-by-jaguar, and successfully navigated a pirate's apprenticeship. Media reporter Jim Romenesko wrote that Times writer Margalit Fox had penned "about 800 obituaries" for the paper when her John Fairfax piece went to press. It appeared on Sunday, February 19th, on page A24.

For an audacious Eisner Award winning comic series produced under Vertigo departing editor Karen Berger, twin brothers and native Brazilians Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá explored a volley of riches and failure from the desk of an obituary writer. While Daytripper's journalist Brás de Oliva Domingos wouldn't earn front-page column inches at The New York Times for his own obituary, his profession is front and center, anchoring a narrative that's hardly confined to a newsroom.

Moon and Bá demonstrate a deft command of nuance and observation in their chronicling of the human experience. Daytripper's lovers' quarrels, anxiety-ridden bedside moments in hospitals, writer's block, new romances, and instances of significant loss are all dealt in great detail. Even the day job is structured to dazzling effect -- Brás carefully pieces together the lives of his subjects as he crafts the last word on their earthly travels. An editor peers over his shoulder as he shuffles photos, notebook pages, and newspaper clippings in order to merge accuracy and a fitting sense of closure in his copy.

For an Esquire magazine story in 1966 called "Mr. Bad News," Gay Talese profiled New York Times obituary writer Alden Whitman. Two thousand "advance" obits were filed in the Times building back then, in which remembrances of famous people are prepared and updated for imminent publication if necessary. When Talese follows Whitman to a Carnegie Hall concert, attention is averted from the orchestra pit to a distinguished concertgoer's facial features and more, a momentary occupational hindrance. "Whitman made notes on such details," wrote Talese, "knowing that someday they would help bring life to his work, knowing that masterful obituaries, like fine funerals, must be planned well in advance."

The obstacles and minor triumphs that materialize in Brás's daily endeavors as a newspaperman and a famous author's son don't adhere to a timeline that would prove helpful to an obit writer. Relationships in Daytripper crest and collapse while important characters enter, make a worthwhile impact, and unpredictably take leave, all in a vague and non-linear fashion. But the straightforward aspects are devastating, each loss precise and close to home, and each chapter's somber conclusion built upon the death(s) of Brás de Oliva Domingos.

Set in a steady stream of lush, hallucinatory colors from Dave Stewart, Daytripper's beauty is tenfold. A half-page sunrise in the outskirts of Salvador, Brazil is a meld of soft purple and orange, while the nostalgia cast in the original series' fifth issue unravels against an evocative array of vibrant blues and green as young Brás chases birds over a hilly countryside. Moon and Bá punctuate their story with powerfully abstract cover art and splash pages that highlight the series' wealth of visualized daydreams and surreal properties. Affecting in its prose and resonant panel composition, Daytripper is overrun with rich detail. It's worthy of real estate on any newspaper's front page.

'Daytripper' is an official selection of 2013's The Angoulême International Comics Festival in France, the largest comics festival in Europe. It is held between January 31st and February 3rd.



Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Prof. Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Music

DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.

Music

JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.

Music

​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.

Music

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times

Music

Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.

Music

How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.

Books

Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.

Music

Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.