A member of the Online Film Critics Society, Peter writes for Twitch, the Financial Times, and Rue Morgue. A contributing editor at Metro magazine, and a columnist on blockbuster movies for Screen Education, he also blogs on pop culture at School Library Journal: http://blogs.slj.com/connect-the-pop/. Get too-frequent updates about comics, books, movies, and TV via Twitter: @Peter_GutierrezView all articles by Peter Gutiérrez
Indeed, in a pop culture landscape in which it’s all too easy to become jaded about the latest zombie-themed release, here’s a new edition of a contemporary classic that’s sure to restore your faith in the subgenre. Why do I sound so confident? I guess because I watch and read so much gut-munching fare that I’ve become borderline jaded myself. In Daybreak it helps, then, that we barely see the zombies, and when we do catch a glimpse of them they appear as shadowy creatures that prompt dread more than anything else. So, yes, while it does contain some gore and some action, cartoonist Brian Ralph’s creation uses these elements to elicit emotions that are too rare in comics these days—genuine unease, genuine fear.
First published in three slim volumes about five years ago but since out-of-print, Daybreak has been handsomely collected by Drawn and Quarterly into a single 160 pp. hardcover book. The result is that Daybreak now looks and feels like the classic it is.
The inviting pacing and efficient storytelling in his steady, six-panels-per-page layout makes Daybreak a potential all-in-one-sitting reading experience. But there is just enough mystery present—both visual and narrative—that you may often feel the need, as I did, to flip back to previous pages: “Wait, is there some clue I missed? Should this character really be trusted?” This kind of deep engagement with the reader is anchored by an exceptionally well-executed first-person p.o.v.—you’re the main character, one who’s never seen, not even in a mirror. This device, which could be annoying or gimmicky in lesser hands is, adds an immediacy that recalls the best of both prose fiction and filmmaking.
I could go on, but I won’t. Just pick a copy of Daybreak off a bookshop or library shelf, read the first page or so, and see if you can stop there. I dare you.
Spread The Word
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