Billed as an art house take on the classic zombie story, Daybreak delivers on that promise. Author/ artist Brian Ralph tells a careful, understated story about surviving the zombie apocalypse. Blood and guts are scarce, but hunger fear and fateful decisions are plentiful in these black and white pages.
Daybreak is told in the second person, placing the reader as the protagonist of the story. Usually I’m not a fan of the second person voice; it tends to be gimmicky and can become tiresome when used in longer pieces. It does, however, work well for this short graphic novel. In making the reader the protagonist of this story, Ralph makes the most of his medium. He forces the reader to interpret the images on the page rather than rely on narration or dialogue to tell the story. When presented with a panel of a room, the reader must visually search it, just as he would have to do if he really was running from zombies. The room looks empty, but is it? Look again. These wordless panels create a great tension and an immediate sense of intimacy with the few characters that do appear in the story.
With Daybreak Brian Ralph succeeds where many other zombie stories fail. He creates a world where looking and listening are just as important as shooting and running, where human interaction is brief but meaningful and everything can change at a moment’s notice. It’s a refreshing take on a familiar genre.