Daybreak Vol. 2 by Brian Ralph

Categories:  Reviews

Daybreak Vol. 2
By Brian Ralph

daybreak2 For awhile, I’d been keeping up with Brian Ralph’s updates on the new bodega blog, but that didn’t last. I couldn’t understand the subject. Some half-mummy boy is crawling around in squaller? Why? Finally, a bound copy of Daybreak Vol. 2 made its way into my mailbox and has since shed a bit of light on the mystery.

Not everything is yet clear though. This is only volume 2 of 3 after all, and the particulars of Daybreak (simple things like who are the main characters and what is their destination and is it possible to defeat a hoard of zombies) remain a mystery.

From what I can muster, Daybreak is about two people: you (the reader) and a boy with strong survival instincts (a kind of guide). Zombies prowl the countryside, looking for still-beating hearts and minds to suck from the living. Creepy, yes, but not terribly gruesome. It reminded me of playing the video game Resident Evil, where survival depends on exploration, finding new tools, and moving slightly faster than what’s creeping towards you.

Daybreak is incredibly exciting and its narrative is so unique, it’s a very necessary read for anyone looking for a thrill in alternative comics. If you really invest yourself in the book, by page 9 you’ll be thinking, ‘OH SHIT ZOMBIES ARE GOING TO EAT ME!!!! I’VE GOT TO RUN!!!!’ But you can’t run! You have to read on!

Daybreak does a fantastic job of involving the reader. There’s a lot of tension in the plot and the main character is a steady comfort as well as being quite likable. Plus, he’s talking directly to you. What could be more involving than that? Even if he’s just crazy and really talking to himself, the illusion of being significant is an alluring piece of this whole book.

Since Daybreak will only be published annually until the series is over, and since volume 2 just came out, there’s still a long way to go before finding satisfaction in the end. I feel confident though that me and what’s-his-name are going to win this war against the undead. Or you and what’s-his-name I guess. Depends on your perspective.

The artwork is like the setting, very gritty, busy and energetic, yet simple. For some reason, all of the action takes place outside in a very rocky environment covered with a lot of garbage and a few overturned vehicles. I like that Ralph has tackled so many unique ideas with this comic and has pulled it all off so effectively. It seems he was really challenging himself to write a long format comic with an unusual literary perspective about a guy who’s missing an arm in an environment that’s constantly changing. Oh, yah, have I mentioned yet that the main character is crippled and his right arm is missing at the elbow joint? It’s quite a feat all around, and Ralph’s doing such a great job with it.

The book is assembled in a way that represents the plot well. Brown ink is printed on thick, lightly textured pages. It’s about as close a mimicry to the outdoors as a publisher can get, and I love that Bodega didn’t skimp on offering readers the full experience.

The end papers and cover both use a limited palette of colors mostly reminiscent of earth and light, which makes a really poignant statement about what this story is about and what these survivors are fighting for. The main character makes a good point when he says about their situation, “that’s surviving, but it ain’t living.” This book isn’t about relationships or hopes or dreams, it’s really about the insane instinct to survive when you’ve got nothing to live for.

Right now Bodega is offering free shipping on Daybreak Vol. 2. You can buy it for $10 from their distribution website which is HERE. Daybreak Vol. 1 is also available from Bodega for $10. Brian Ralph has even got a WEBSITE.  I recommend checking it out if you’d like to see a picture of him holding his absolutely adorable baby son.

-Sarah Morean