You Read This With Your Eyes: Daytripper

“What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.”

-T.S. Elliot

We meet Brás de Oliva Domingos on his birthday. He’s sitting at a bar, wearing a tuxedo, on his way to celebrate the life of his father, who has recently passed away. There is blood on his tuxedo. He is 32.

Death looms large in the life of Brás – a fact we are made privy to very early in the time we spend with him. He writes obituaries for a newspaper, describing lives through fondly sculpted memories. His work, though prolific in its own small way, is brimming with character. He describes the life of a famous painter, who had been in love with 274 different women in his life, proof of this being found in the portraits he would make of each lover, every painting carrying the name “Lola”. You know this painter for a fleeting moment, and yet a life has been spread before you, rife with nuance.

He is a master of words – a talent handed down to him from his father – though neither would openly admit this. Brás’ father was a famous writer and in his death, he was to be celebrated – though as cruel fate would have it, this celebration would occur on Brás’ own birthday. As he reads the paper detailing the soiree, he attempts to believe that his father would’ve balked at the suggestion of having the event occur as his son would begin another year of life. Reality says otherwise, however, and Brás is given a rough start to his 32nd birthday.

In short order, we see our hero struggling to stay above water, awash in a sea of memory. His typewriter was a gift from his father. A bad habit picked up from his mother bares his father’s fingerprints, the smoke coming from his favourite brand of cigarette. Throughout our inaugural trip with Brás, these themes of death, family and the attempt to live with and without both swirl until an ending. There is blood on his tuxedo. There is a gun in his face.

Brás dies on the date of his birth – and his story begins.

WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT DAYS OF YOUR LIFE?

Do you remember your first kiss? Your first love? Your one and only love? How about first loss? Your first personal failure? Your first death? In Daytripper, recounted in stunning clarity, we see the most important days of a man’s life. We see the lessons he learns from these moments, and the way his old life dies – only to be reborn anew inside of a new phase – an ending making way for a new beginning.

Each chapter is told without an effort made towards linear chronology – in its stead, events enfold in such a way that themes bleed from one story to the next – love, leading to loss, leading to love, leading to life, and over and over and over. Viewing a life in such a way is far and away out of the ordinary, but much more fulfilling and hearty. Each note hits at just the right frequency, resonating in your bones before ebbing and transforming into a fresh one, lyrics dancing beautifully atop the music you don’t so much as hear, but feel. The tune is familiar, but surprising in parts. You live alongside Brás. You die with him over and over and over. You heart aches and your heart breaks. You are haunted.

STORYTELLING

“I guess everyone that likes comics and likes to draw has this kind of notion that the drawings are the most important thing. And we were like that in the beginning. Now we care much more about the overall story. We don’t make too much effort to determine who is doing what, because in the end all that matter is the whole thing, the story we create and put out so people can read it. We don’t care who’s drawing. The artist doesn’t matter; the story is what matters.”

-Fábio Moon from The Comics Journal No. 298, May 2009

The twins Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá are phenomenal storytellers – though most people only know them from working with writers such as Matt Fraction on Casanova and Gerard Way on The Umbrella Academy. And while their art styles are certainly very accomplished and evocative, their greatest strength lies in the way they tell a story. In their projects with other writers, this storytelling aspect is limited, in a sense, to what they can convey using other people’s words. In such cases, their art works as a bit of a mixtape, using the poetry of others and infusing it with your own deliberate choices, in order to make something different than what would’ve been through one voice alone. Inside the pages of Daytripper – as well as other works where they act both as writers and artists, the twins are left to tell stories with their own words.

In describing what they attempted to accomplish with this story in the back of its collected volume, Fábio Moon stated, “We wanted that feeling that life was happening right there, in front of every one of us, and we were living it. And we did. And sometimes, we die to prove that we lived.”

The words sum up the work as a whole more beautifully than I could ever hope to capture it – present in every page is a life well lived – one perfectly realized and captured using the drapes of small moments, dressing the bones of large, personal events. While adding their own measure of the fantastic to the regular events in a life, the twins manage to allow this story to become larger in the readers minds. Really, the story of Brás is no different than the story of mine or yours – but by adding the aspect of death, these everyday occurrences gain meaning. As Moon said, “We die to prove that we lived.” Death gives all moments meaning.

Without thinking about the story first, and letting the art really become a part of that, to be in service of that, rather than the driving force, this point is made with a subtle touch, staying at the fringes of your mind as you continue through one man’s life. And then, of course, there’s an ending – just as there must be with everything.

BEGINNING

There’s a magic present inside Daytripper that I can’t even hope to capture. I could go on for hours, for days attempting to parse every nuance, but the would be an exercise in fruitlessness. The book is much better experienced as it was always intended – through the medium of comics, wherein words can inform pictures, and pictures can carry words. It would do your heart good to go out and experience this book. Do it soon – because before long, something new will have to begin.

Brandon Schatz // Twitter // Facebook

Submetropolitan is powered by Variant Edition Comics + Culture – Edmonton’s best source for comics, used books + mindful pop culture.
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You Read This With Your Eyes: Skyward

YRTWYE is where we recommend things that you can read. It happens with a frequency, but not as frequently as we’d like.

IT’S ALWAYS THE END OF THE WORLD SOMEWHERE

The shift happens in a moment. A sudden event, a quick shift, and the world as we knew it, the structures, the systems, is gone.

The world loves a good apocalypse. If it happens in seconds, then we’re not to blame for the things we’ve done. That’s a great hook right there. “Sure, we pushed the earth past the brink and doomed future generations with our thoughtlessness, but huzzah! The zombies are here.” So nice to think of.

I’m listening to sad boy music and reading comics today, and clearly that’s been working out well for me. Howsabout we talk about a comic that’s been sitting in my head for the past few days?

LOOK, UP IN THE SKY

One day, years ago, gravity left the earth, taking the heart of a young man with it. Years later, his daughter Willa is feeling cooped up, and is seeking release. Removed from the experience of the event and the loss of so many, this woman struggles to understand her father’s needs as he continues to live with severe agoraphobia. It’s a tie that keeps her tethered as someone needs to earn money for a place to live and to have things to eat. Frustrated by this, she sets out to solve some problems… and in doing so, sets forward events that will change the entire world again.

The world contained within Skyward is beautifully realized. A touch of science mixes with a loose, bombastic movie feel to create a vibrant story about family, friends and survival. There’s a beautiful heart at the core of this specific apocalypse, one that didn’t see the world end, but shift entirely. There are elements of conspiracy, of social disparity and of disparate ideologies that send characters crashing into each other in unique and wonderful ways. Like all good apocalypse fiction, it is a story about humanity, and the ways it evolves when faced with adversity, in good ways, and bad.

TL;DR

The end of the world is too small for Willa, and she’s looking to take to the skies to find more. Only her will starts a chain of events that will change the world around her in significant ways once more.

Recommended if you like lighter apocalypse fare, and sci-fi stories with a lot of humour and heart.


Brandon Schatz // Twitter // Facebook

Submetropolitan is powered by Variant Edition Comics + Culture – Edmonton’s best source for comics, used books + mindful pop culture.

Variant Edition // Website // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

Quickly: On HOX / POX

If you’ve been following me on social media lately, you know that I’ve become particularly enamoured with the newest season of X-Men comics that have been coming out from Jonathan Hickman, R. B. Silva and Pepe Larraz.

I’ve been trying to articulate why in a matter that doesn’t involve getting neck deep into spoilers for one of the wildest superhero books I’ve read in quite some time, and I think I’ve finally cracked it.

EASE OF ACCESS vs IMPLIED BAGGAGE

With roughly 80 years of history behind them now, comics from Marvel and DC have the unenviable task of trying to remain appealing to as broad an audience as they possibly can… while simultaneously making a product that appeals to folks who they’ve already managed to grab. There always needs to be a push for something new while maintaining the core of the property so the thing can keep going forever. It is a ridiculously tough balance to strike, and I think Hickman has cracked the proverbial code in the pages of House of X and Powers of X.

The story functions in such a way that it is very specific to the X-Men. If the power dynamics on display happened with any other Marvel team, the whole thing would fall flat. However, the events in the books aren’t so specific that past knowledge is required. The characters could be replaced with a set of knock-offs without the implied history and everything would still remain functional. However, because this is the X-Men, the weight remains.

There are small bits layered in that are additive for someone who has an extensive knowledge of the team, but nothing is taken away from those who might not know all the minutia. It creates a beautiful ease of access that relies more on themes than past plot points, and builds something that looks forward to what comes next.

It’s a remarkable thing, to see something like this happen. Here’s hoping it continues when the line blooms outwards in October.

Doctor Whooch // Episode 156 // Space French

In which we remember the days of laser tag.

On this week’s Doctor Whooch, we’re still plugging through the first season of The Sarah Jane Adventures with a little ditty called “Warriors of Kudlak” aaaannnddd… well, our notes say things like “everybody loves stick, dead dad, and Ds n Vs” so… work that out?

Outro music is “Foux Da Fa Fa” by Flight of the Concords

Podcast picture is by GIRL NAMED SHIRL PHOTOGRAPHY


More episodes of Doctor Whooch!

Doctor Whooch // Episode 155 // Meanwhile, At Nun Castle

In which parents are terrible.

On this week’s show, The Sarah Jane Adventures continue with the Series 1 two parter, Eye of the Gorgon. Brandon and Danica talk about evil space nuns (?) and how Maria’s mom is the worst. Or probably second worst. There’s still Swedish Eric out there, after all. They also mention they should have Paul as a guest on the show. And they did! Two weeks ago! Time travel is fun.

Outro music is “Eye of the Tiger” by Paul Anka

Podcast picture is by GIRL NAMED SHIRL PHOTOGRAPHY


More episodes of Doctor Whooch

Doctor Whooch // Episode 154 // The Best Throuple

In which Brandon is a jerk. (But what ELSE is new.)

Our eclectic 13th season of Doctor Whooch rolls on with a brand new Companions episode, featuring Paul Gifford of Drink This Pod! Danica and Brandon and Paul watch “Vincent and the Doctor” from Matt Smith’s first season, and WOW is there a lot of feelings in there. Depression sucks, folks! And reach out if you need to.

Outro music is “Why Do You Feel So Down” by Declan McKenna

Podcast picture is by GIRL NAMED SHIRL PHOTOGRAPHY

Future Playlists

  • For the ghosts in your heart.
  • Laughing madly, running and smiling as the long grass licks your heels.
  • Fuck songs.
  • I mean, it probably won’t kill you.
  • Drowning?
  • Fear can eat my dick.
  • I’d have more friends if I wasn’t under this blanket always.
  • HAHAHAHAHAHA
  • No.

This is a thing Brandon uses to fuel his own heart ghosts and sometimes they make him write.

Doctor Whooch // Episode 153 // Red Dawn

In which we learn that Danica takes nicknames very seriously.

We’re in the midst of the dry season (also known as “all of 2019, probably) with no new Doctor Who television content in sight, so we’re continuing to explore the vast riches of other media… this time, with Big Finish audio! On this week’s episode, we listen to an Eighth Doctor adventure, Blood of the Daleks, that has some similarities to a pair of episodes from the Russel “The” Davies run.

As always, if you haven’t listened to the audio itself, don’t worry! You’ll get all the info you need, except drunk. It’s fine. Trust us.

Outro music is (once more!) “Ghetto Supastar” by Pras feat. Ol’ Dirty Bastard & Mya

Podcast picture is by GIRL NAMED SHIRL PHOTOGRAPHY


Doctor Whooch // Episode 152 // Everybody Gets Two Dads!!!

In which the Slitheen return which… wow. WHY.

So hey, this is an episode about daddies – but strangely, Tennant is nowhere to be seen? What sorcery is this? It’s the second batch of The Sarah Jane Adventures – “The Revenge of the Slitheen”. And there is a baby. It is… horrifying. So. Yeah.

Outro music is “DADDY (feat. CL)” by PSY

Podcast picture is by GIRL NAMED SHIRL PHOTOGRAPHY


Whoa hey, there’s a lot more Doctor Whooch to listen to. Like THESE fine episodes.

A complicated pop culture construct made from podcasts, words and gnomes, based in Edmonton, AB.