Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Daybreak by Brian Ralph

Daybreak is the world's only second-person zombie apocalypse graphic novel: the main character is "you," whose face or body Ralph never shows, whose viewpoint frames the entire story and whose voice is never heard. You begin the book by meeting a friendly one-armed man, and spend most of the rest of the book in his company -- dodging zombies (whose faces are almost never seen, as if You spend all of your time looking at the ground to keep your feet), scrounging for food, and having variously tense meetings with other still-human survivors.

Ralphs has a detailed, textured art style that works well for this story -- he's really good at drawing rocks and rubble, broken machinery and tangled junk, rain and darkness, grubby hide-outs and makeshift shelters. His dialogue is serviceable, but it gets choppy -- he's only showing one side of a conversation, but still wants the entire thing to be clear. Daybreak has a clever idea, but it never transcends the level of "clever idea" -- the story is just fine, entertaining on a picaresque zombie-story level -- but the reader has to assume that Ralphs was aiming at something more than that, and Daybreak doesn't deliver on that level. Still, it's a fun graphic novel with zombies and an interesting organizing idea, which is pretty good.

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