Lit 80, Fall 2013

“Daytripper” Response

October 28th, 2013 | Posted by David Hemminger in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

“Daytripper” is the first graphic novel I have read, so it acted as an introduction to the medium for me.  My first impression was that the addition of images to the more traditional novel gave the authors a powerful literary tool to work with, and I enjoyed the ways that Ba and Moon made use of it.  It particular, I thought that they did a fantastic job of describing the setting and background for each chapter using almost only pictures.

In the beginning of the second chapter, for example, it is important that Ba and Moon are able to clearly define the new setting and mood of the coming pages, since they are each vastly different from the first chapter.  Bras and Jorge are now at a completely different point in their lives, traveling through South America with no responsibilities left behind.  The title page for the chapter is able to express this in a single image by showing their age through their appearance, mood through their body language, and location through beautiful landscape.

Daytripper Setting Chapter 2


In the third chapter they change the setting all over again, jumping almost a decade into the future and shifting to a darker mood that is expressed by the general theme of black and blue in the opening image below.

Daytripper Setting Chapter 3


Their opening pictures in the fourth chapter so aptly describe the situation that no words are necessary until several panels in.  The iconic scene of a nervous husband stumbling through a well-rehearsed trip, reinforced by his wife’s bulging stomach in a following panel, allows us to immediately recognize the approaching birth.

Daytripper Setting Chapter 4


Lastly, in the seventh chapter, Bras’ newfound career success is clear before it is ever stated.  His name on the book cover and his confident look of one accustomed to this kind of attention give it all away.

Daytripper Setting Chapter 7


Throughout the graphic novel the utility of images allows Ba and Moon to avoid almost all explicit exposition and speech.  It allows them to focus on the quiet moments.

Graphic novels are a unique form of literary expression that has emerged as a popular way to narrate stories. In class we have discussed the novel “Daytripper” by Ba and Moon. The story revolves around the live of Bras de Oliva Domingos, who works as an editor for obituaries at a newspaper office in Brazil. Each chapter in the novel tells a story of its own about a different time in Bras’s live, and many of them are not chronologically ordered. The images in the novel utilize different tones of color to semi-consciously convey the story’s gravity, emotions, and meanings to the reader. The following are some representative graphical annotations that illustrate this fact.

Daytripper Zhan #1                               szoter_image2

The most spectacular aspect of the graphic novel is that the chapters would always end up in Bras’s death, with the subsequent chapter narrating what would have happened if he did not die in the previous chapter. Ostensibly, the book suggests that we ought to be careful in our lives as best as we can since accidental happenings and possible death could always be around the corner at any time. This is quite apparent, since Bras dies from car accidents, drowning, murder, electrical shock etc. in the novel. On a deeper and more analytical facet, however, the novel encourages the reader to reflect on his/her own life. Though one might not notice it immediately, the novel attempts to subconsciously immerse the reader into understanding its deeper meanings. What would change if I died today? How will the lives of other people be influenced by my death? Will I live my life to its full potential before I die? Will I be satisfied by what I have done before I die? Will there be any regrets?


The most intriguing example in the book about the impact, both emotionally and physically, about a friend’s death can be seen by Bras’s reaction when he realizes that Jorge might have been killed in a plane explosion. In fact, Bras becomes so emotional about thinking of Jorge that even the obituaries he constructed for other people were actually written about his friend.

Daytripper Zhan #4

Emotional Bras immersed in pain and depression of the possibility of having lost his best friend Jorge.

In a nutshell, Daytripper not only stunned me with its outstanding pictorial art, but also provoked my thoughts about the meaning of life and death and the impact a sudden change in life can bring to myself and the people that care about me.



October 28th, 2013 | Posted by Matt Hebert in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Daytripper makes excellent use of the graphic novel’s unique strengths in storytelling to draw the reader into Bras’ mind as we delve into his life. For instance, the novel utilizes the ambiguous voice of the panel’s expository text to suggest that the intriguing characters described in the opening will be important characters in the story. In fact, the descriptions are obituaries written by Bras, the true main character. These obituaries, while they may have had a passing influence on him, are just his day job. If they come to mind now, it is probably because he was working on them earlier that day. It is not until the bottom of the page that the actual narrator takes over, a transition which is demonstrated to the reader visually with a change of text box style. The obituary-style text boxes are used again at the end of each chapter to describe Bras’ deaths. It would be difficult or impossible for a traditional book or film to achieve this ambiguity. A book would have to forgo the distinct forms of delivery which make the transitions in voice clear. A film would have to let the actor playing Bras deliver the opening lines, which doesn’t provide the same sense of narrative layers and would be less effective when used to describe Bras’ own deaths.

DayTripper introDayTripper intro last page
One powerful recurrent image is that of the tree under which Bras’ father, Benedito, writes. When the tree is first shown to the reader, it juts out from the landscape, a scraggly mass of roots with Benedito’s legs seamlessly intertwined. It portrays both the aura of grandeur surrounding Benedito and his perpetual isolation from all those around him. Bras seems tiny in comparison, even as the tree stands far in the distance.

DayTripper tree first

Later the tree is used more subtly. In this panel, the tree complements the text, its image a symbol for the growing influence that Benedito’s image as a great writer is having on Bras. As we look into Bras’ later years we see that he becomes far more like his father than he would ever wish to admit – frequently absent, larger than life, prioritizing career over family. Though the line here refers to Bras’ family tree in terms of genealogy, it also gives a name to the iconic image of his father that would eventually grow to dominate his life.

DayTripper tree seed

The tree reappears in the penultimate chapter when Bras takes over for Benedito as storyteller and begins to explain the importance of life and death to his son as only he can. He has at last carved out an identity for himself that is not primarily defined by his father. As such, he now appears larger than his father within the frame.

DayTripper tree book end

Again, these images convey complex emotions and themes more effectively than a textual description or film could do alone.

I really enjoy reading graphic novels. I prefer them to any other literary experience, because their format allows me to almost instantly immerse myself in the different visual worlds on the pages. The first graphic novel I read in full was The Killing Joke, by Alan Moore; since then, I have spent many hours poring through the artwork, frames, and dialogue of all types of graphic novels. However, Daytripper, by Ba and Moon, is a one-of-a-kind experience that I have not had before. The story follows the entire lifetime of Bras de Oliva Domingos, starting from his birth to the final days of his life. This ten-issue novel presents different stages of his life in chapters in a non-chronological order. At the end of each chapter, Bras suddenly and unexpectedly dies. However, each chapter follows the previous with no acknowledgement of the death that immediately precedes it. Each death is thus a hypothetical scenario that ends that particular stage or event in Bras’ life.

One of the most powerful tools that graphic novels have at their disposal that traditional literature does not is the artwork. It often has visual subtleties or stark imagery that can affect the reader both mentally and physically on a subconscious level. Among other things, these annotations highlight the importance of one element of the novel’s graphics within the frames: lighting.

szoter_image1 szoter_image2 szoter_image3

What makes this work so profound is the emotional introspection it evokes in the reader. The deaths that occur happen at very pivotal moments in Bras’ life, asking the heavy question “If I died today, what would I have to show for my life?” It is not until the final chapter of the novel that the reader understands what each of these deaths represents – Bras considers how his life, legacy, and the lives of those around him would be different had things ended during the moments he considers the most important his life. This made me think about my life from a larger perspective; stepping back from the microcosm of a college campus and the daily grind of academia, I wonder if the way I choose to live my life may merely scratching the surface of the potential life experiences I could be living. The book’s keen ability to make its audience think about such profound topics is a testament to the power of graphic novels as a medium and its value as a method of storytelling.

Daytripper reflection

October 27th, 2013 | Posted by Sai Cheemalapati in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

My first introduction to the format of Daytripper – the graphic novel format – was a series of comic books called Tintin. Tintin is a famous comic book series that feature Tintin the reporter and his dog Snowy on their adventures around the world. The stories are among my favorite in their scope and suspense, and I believe much of the impact they had one me was a result of the format. The imagery and words together provides a foothold for the imagination, and when pulled off well, can provide a more compelling experience to the user than just words alone.

Daytripper follows the story of Brás throughout his life. Each chapter, except the last, sees him die at a different part of the story. My interpretation is that the story is a giant “what-if?” While from Brás’ viewpoint, the story reads like a “what if I died here?” To me, it reads like a “what if I lived?” The books are organized non-chronologically. It starts with Brás as a middle aged man though. The choice to me seemed more appropriate than having the chapters go in order. By starting off with an older character, the author is able to establish the circumstances and issues in Brás’ life. The character is developed and plot points constructed in the first chapter itself.

The series revolves around the concept of death. It seems to give the idea more weight and meaning than many other stories I’ve read. One of the most powerful moments for me was when Jorge calls from Rio to confirm that he is not dead. Brás spent the month assuming that his best friend had died on a plane crash and was depressed as a result. What really struck me though was Jorge’s reasoning to not come home. He said that he “can’t go back to that life,” because “life is too short” (Vol. 6 p. 20). It really made me take a step back and think about myself and what I would regret if I died today. There aren’t that many moments in stories I read where I really stop and think introspectively.

Screenshot_2013-10-27-19-53-52 Screenshot_2013-10-27-19-15-58 Screenshot_2013-10-27-19-14-55Screenshot_2013-10-27-19-15-03

Graphic novels act as a medium that can portray stories in way that conventional novels cannot. The artistry of the pictures do the job that descriptive writing would do—setting the mood, invoking emotion, and revealing interactions between characters and delving deeper into the characters themselves. However, with the graphic novel approach, the reader is able to connect on a different level with the character. Viewing the scenes rather than reading them allows for a more perceptive experience—you are still employing your imagination, yet are being guided by the colors and positions of images on the page. Much like how word choice plays a role in interpretation of a literature work, placement and artistic decisions play a major role in the emotions that are evoked by the graphics. It is not to say that one medium is necessarily better than another, but rather they provide different experiences. For a novel such as Moon and Ba’s Daytripper, a graphic novel was a far more effective medium than a conventional novel. The images make it easier for the reader to follow the confusing timeline of the Bras de Oliva Domingos’ life, while also allowing us to get to know him without his life being laid out for us in a description. Most of the text is dialogue or thoughts, not background presented by a narrator. As we travel alongside Bras, we get to know him through his actions and by visually experiencing his emotions through the colors and facial expressions. Through this method, we are able to relate to Bras on an intimate, yet detached level, one that allows us to connect the attributes of his life to our own. We feel for Bras, yet we are also able to relate the different stages of his life—his hardships, his defining moments, and his emotions—to our own. We are able to do this because we are following him along through his life and know just as much as he does about what is going to happen next. We can die at any moment—and it is through the uncertainty and twists of Bras life that we are able to experience this concept. We don’t need to be told things through descriptions—we are guided through the journey. Moon and Ba tactfully produce certain emotions through their artistry—from subliminal clues that we may not even pick up on and the relative colors of the background to the body language and facial expressions of the characters. Similarly, the “silence” brought on by the minimal dialogue used works powerfully to form relationships between characters and between the reader and the character. Through this silence we are able to feel the characters, and it is through this interaction that we learn about who they are, what they desire, how they perceive the world. We learn more from these still images, there frames shots of life, than we could from spoken word or physical description. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and Moon and Ba’s novel couldn’t have depicted this any better.Ba and Moon, 189Ba and Moon, 197

Ba and Moon, 227-230

Being able to read Daytripper for a class, was to me, a dream come true because it has allowed me to look at a media I enjoy academically. In class we discussed the advantages of using a graphic novel as a medium, and I believe that one was not discussed too extensively. This advantage being how images can be used to reflect or contrast the text of the story. Image 1 demonstrates the image literally reflecting onto the text (232-233). Here the author discusses how sometimes changes in your life change you. As the panel crosses the page, the reflection of Brás appears to get older. This may symbolize that change experienced by Brás between chapters 1 in 10 on his opinion on family. The novel begins with a negative connotation with Brás describing how “we don’t get to choose our family” (29). As things change in his life, his opinion changes to a more positive description of how “we carry our family inside of us- it’s who we are” (239). Next, in image two (page 89) the reader finds that the image acts as a symbol of the author’s word choice. The people outside, are being blocked by a physical barrier. The people outside the barrier are darker and represent the dead, while in the light are the living trying to “block it all out” (89). Another visualization appears in image 3 (44). The Brazilian woman talks about how traveling too fast can result in seeing life as a blur. In the image, Brás and the woman are both blurred images, suggesting that Brás’ set itinerary has resulted in him rushing through life. The final image is an example of the contrast. Jorge is depicted saying “Planet White” which is juxtaposed by a dark panel frame (39). Through these images, it can be understood how the graphic novels used images to compliment and improve the messages delivered through the story of Brás, and how the graphic novel acts as an ideal medium for Daytripper.


Ba and Moon 232-233

Ba and Moon 232-233

Ba and Moon 89

Ba and Moon 89

Ba and Moon 44

Ba and Moon 44

Ba and Moon 39

Ba and Moon 39




Daytripper Novel Response

October 25th, 2013 | Posted by Sheel Patel in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Before reading Daytripper, I had never read a graphic novel or even stumbled across one, for that matter. So before delving into Daytripper, I really had no idea what to expect as the only conception I had of graphic novels and comics pertained to super-heros fighting evil.  Never did I imagine that this graphic novel would move me in such a profound way. The novel itself is structured in a very unique way. Initially, each ‘chapter’ or installment of the book was released separately to the public before being collected together to create the graphic novel. The story follows an aspiring author named Bras de Oliva Domingos, the son of a famous Brazillian writer, who writes obituaries for a Brazillian newspaper. Initially Bras feels the burden that comes with his fathers fame and often resents him for it. In the first installment of this novel, Bras eases himself with a drink at a local bar before attending a gala celebrating his fathers achievements. All seems well, before a drastic plot twist takes Bras life at the hands of an armed robber. Right off the bat, this novel causes an uneasy feeling in the reader, but that is what makes it beautiful. Each installment that follows, continues to explain more of the realities that may have been Bras’s life, with his death ending each chapter. Just as the reader starts to become attached to the young writer who’s trying to figure out his life, he is taken away by the hands of death. This unique plot, elucidates far more than just the life of Bra’s.

Death is often a subject that most societies look down upon. A topic that is correlated to darkness, pain, and melancholy. It is a subject most people chose to avoid until it directly effects them. Why is that the case? Why should we shun the idea of death and do everything in our power to prevent it when simply stated, death is part of life. If there are two things that are certain in this world it is that there is life, and life is followed by death. Death is inevitable and necessary to facilitate future life in all realms from humans to plants to single-celled organisms. Death is simply part of living and will be part of everyones life. That idea is what makes Daytripper beautiful. Death is often portrayed as a very saddening event and something people try to avoid, but in the case of Bras, death reaches him at sad times in his life but also at happy times. We may have peaks and troughs in our lives, but together they constitute to our experience on earth and can be ended at any moment. The story of Bras in Daytripper, takes us through these highs and lows of his life and with his death, makes us appreciate these moments in our own lives even more. Through heartbreak, love, success, and pain, we follow Bras de Oliva Domingo’s life and his realization that death will be just a single part of those life experiences, rather than the end. Through heartbreak, love, success, and pain we follow our own lives as well, and hopefully come to a similar conclusion.

This idea of the acceptance of death as part of life can be vividly seen towards the final chapters of the novel, as shown in the annotated pages below.

Chapter 10

Chapter 10

Appropriate to our on-going discussion of (re)mediated temporalities & our interest in mapping time in & across our literary media: A graphic novel strip about the time(s) in/of the graphic novel:

McCloud, Understanding Comics, p104

McCloud, Understanding Comics, p104

McCloud, Understanding Comics, p 104.

McCloud, Understanding Comics, p 104.


From Scott McCloud. Understanding Comics: the Invisible Art. New York: Harper Perennial, 1993.

Collection of Interest

The recent collection of essays compiled in the book Depletion Design, available as a free download here, contains an essay on Grey Ecology by our recent visitor Drew Burk and an essay on Dust Matter by our Media Archaeology author Jussi Parikka. A double shot of more Media Archaeology.