What would it be like to die on the day you met your future spouse? How about the day your career really took off? Or the day your first child was born? Such is the conceit of Brazilian twin brothers Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon's new graphic novel Daytripper (DC/Vertigo). The book follows Brás de Oliva Domingos, a São Paulo obituary writer, and the many potential demises throughout his life.
It's not entirely clear why Brás keeps dying at critical junctures of his existence, but each of deaths highlights the opportunities stanched: a friendship, a lover, a satisfying vocation. It's a gripping, surreal meditation on death and — more than once while reading it — you may feel like a fleck of dust has wandered into the corner of your eye.
Bá and Moon, who gained accolades in the American comics scene working on books like Matt Fraction's Casanova, recently chatted with us about Daytripper, its themes, and their future projects.
How did you come up with the premise for Daytripper?
Gabriel Bá: The initial idea first came to me 9 years ago, one night in the shower. We used to live on a building near to a small "favela" and I wondered that if a conflict would happen there, a lost bullet could come through my window and kill me out of the blue, with no explanation or reason, just like that. What would my life be up until that point? What does death means on our lives? Then I thought a story about one man's death could make people think about his life, and how could would explore this feelings of life and death by exploring different deaths for one life.
Is the book autobiographical in any way?
Fábio Moon: We didn't start thinking about our life when we came up with the premise, but we ended up digging into our own "emotional pool" when we went to write about what made Brás' life significant and special. We didn't do all the things Brás did, but I think we felt the same way he did in a lot of different situations, and we transported those feelings into the story.
The book goes through many of Brás' possible deaths on significant days of his life. When you were writing this, did you envision these scenarios as, say, supernatural possibilities, alternate realities, or simply his dreams?
Fábio: The reader's understanding of any story is always an interpretation, and that's the beauty of telling stories. They gain life once they're read, experienced and shared. There really isn't just one version of our story, and we're just fine with that.
You both did writing and illustration chores for Daytripper — what was your method for collaborating on the book?
Gabriel: We wrote it together, talking back and forth and breaking every issue down. One of us would end up sitting and writing most of the script of one chapter, and then we would revise it together so they all had the same voice.
Fábio: I did most of the artwork, and Bá did all the covers. There were small instances in the book where we wanted a different look, very distinct from the rest, and so whenever [we did sequences with] Brás' dreams we had Bá do the artwork.
What do you and Matt Fraction have cooking for the third volume of Casanova? When do you think we'll see this hit stands?
Gabriel: Well, I can tell you it's as different from the rest of the story as Volume 2 was different from Volume 1. It's bigger and more ambitious, and crazier, if that's possible.
Fábio: It's always possible.
Gabriel: First we want to have most of it done, then we'll close on a release date. We wanted it out as much as anybody, but we hate late books.
Fábio: We have started to think about new stories, but we don't want to rush into writing again to make sure our "Daytripper mode" doesn't bleed into our next story. We'll balance between writing our own stories and working with other authors to guarantee that we don't have to hurry our inspiration to come up with new ideas. I'll go back to Casanova for volume 4, and Bá will go back to more [of Gerard Way's] Umbrella Academy stories as well, and when we least expect, we'll have something new to show.
Gabriel: We'll be very busy for the next 10 years.
Anything else you'd like to tell our readers and/or give a shout out to?
Fábio: Give the Daytripper trade to your friends as a gift. Books make good gifts, and I hope our book has a big appeal on non-comic readers, so I hope to bring a lot of people into reading comics with Daytripper.
Gabriel: We want to thank the readers who supported the book when it came out monthly, and hope that all those who waited for the trade remember us now that the book is out.
Daytripper is out in comics stores now and hits bookstores Wednesday.