Anyone wanting proof that comics aren't just for kids or socially challenged teenagers take note, this collected work by the Brazilian twins Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon is on par with richly worded works of literature in its exploration of how a life is lived and the multitudinous paths it can take.
All of which is made more remarkable given the fact that the protagonist _ Bras de Oliva Domingos _ in this collection of the 10-issue limited series published in 2010 meets his mortal end at the end of each tale. The trade edition, which retails for $19.99, was released last month by DC's Vertigo imprint, and immediately shot to the top of The New York Times Paperback Graphic Books list before slipping lower. On Friday, it regained the No.1 spot.
But Domingos' death is what makes his life _ told in 10 different variations _ so astounding, both in words and images. Each tale finds the son of a novelist, and budding journalist, in a different, yet important, phase of his life.
Meeting his first love, the birth of his son, the fame of being a published writer, Domingos' life is bathed in friendship, family, tradition and, in a nod to its South American setting, a hint of magic that is found in the works of Mario Vargas Llosa, Paulo Coehlo and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Though he dies at the end, each chapter reflects his choices _ bold, staid or otherwise _ and the legacy of his time there.
"This was the longest, hardest, most difficult story we've ever told, but it made sense through the whole series. We had very few solid elements of the story when we began working on it, but we knew what we wanted to tell and where we wanted to go," Ba said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Everything that happens in this story is there for a reason, even if we had just figured this reason on the fly as we were making it."
The art that accompanies the words is flowing, dreamy even, and evokes the words, environment and even mystical pull of living one's life and making peace with the chaos and uncertainty that infuses it.
Much of that resonates from the collaborative nature of the brothers' comfortable collaboration with each other, an element they both tout.
"We started working together in Brazil when we were much younger, when I wrote one story Ba liked so much that we decided he would draw," Moon said. "From that story, and with every new collaboration between us, we realized that we communicated very well what we wanted to one another. It may be because we're twins, or simply because we have spent our entire lives together almost the entire time, but the fact is that we know each other very well, and we know each other's tastes and preferences, and we share a lot of the same beliefs in which way a story should be told, so we get along very well when we collaborate, better than when we're collaborating with anybody else."