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War is Boring: Bored Stiff, Scared to Death in the World's Worst War Zones Paperback – August 3, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. War journalist Axe has been to some of the most volatile regions of our globe in the past decade, and since 2006 he has used comics to tell the stories he sees there. In his previous War Fix he expressed the drive that inspires him to return to war zone after war zone, in search of the truth about conflicts around the world. Axe founded the Web site War Is Boring, which gives war correspondents and cartoonists a place to report and react to modern-day warfare. At first glance, the combination of hard-hitting war journalism and cartooning is incongruous, but as those who have read Joe Sacco will testify, the graphic novel can be a potent medium in which to show both the fearful tedium and the violence of war. Axe and artist Bors (3 Car Pileup) are well on their way to mastering the balance, using a traditional six-panel grid to give the art a documentary feel. Bors's art has an indie vibe that will pull in readers from other genres, lending sympathy and depth to Axe's troubled protagonist. Like War Fix, this suffers a bit from Axe's ambivalence toward his calling, but his honesty sets it apart from other war narratives.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Addicted to danger, freelance war correspondent Axe found himself irresistibly drawn to conflicts in Iraq, East Timor, Afghanistan, Somalia, and elsewhere. Each time, once his itch was scratched, he would return home, where his tolerance for smug, ignorant Americans grew slimmer and his relationship with his girlfriend became more and more strained. Then his death wish would resurface and the cycle would resume. The visuals and dialogue in this graphic novel—adapted from his webcomic of the same name—convey his harrowing experiences and encounters with soldiers and civilians in the worlds riskiest war zones, while his growing internal distress is related in captions that serve as an anguished voice-over commentary. Axe’s tale is heartfelt and compelling; however, Bors’ awkward artwork does it a disservice. But if their collaboration falls short of the mastery of comics-journalist Joe Sacco’s war-zone reportage from Bosnia—or, for that matter, the Afghanistan dispatches of cartoonist Ted Rall, who contributes an introduction to this volume—it’s nonetheless a convincing document of a daunting internal conflict. --Gordon Flagg
Top customer reviews
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Ultimately, this was well put together, but lacked the depth it needed. I've travelled as a freelance photojournalist myself and I recognized most/all of the emotions and disconnects that he described - but I don't think I learned anything new. A reader coming to this brand new will surely be intrigued by Axe's story, but if you really stop and think, most of it will seem pretty obvious. Yes, of course real life is boring compared to war. I totally agree...but was that a mystery? Who didn't know that already?
The drawing's by Matt Bors are excellent but a little spare, and I think that adds to the emptiness, both on the page and with Axe's conclusions.
It was okay. A quick read and priced right, but not a book that left me with any memorable moments that stuck with me when I was done.
David Axe has spent the past few years going to those places first hand. In this comic, he gives us a retrospective on what he's seen and the reactions he's gone through, taking us with him as he confronts, both physically and mentally, the hollow brutality of modern warfare.
Matt Bor's spare, iconic art provides an excellent substrate for Axe's text, and together they show us a view of modern conflict that might not be possible in a more mainstream medium -- too ruthlessly realistic for hollywood, too graphically violent for television news, too strongly emotional for a newspaper.
If it has a flaw, it's that it's a little too personal -- the focus of the story is slightly more on what the experience of these conflicts has done to Axe's mind than it is on the conflicts themselves -- but that might be a necessary function of this kind of personal narrative. If you want a first-hand account of what it's like "over there" -- and you want to know more about what going "over there" might do to your mind and your worldview -- you won't go far wrong reading this.
The work does push you to learn more about these afflicted areas however, and that should be the first duty of any nonfiction piece. You get a pretty good feel for how it would be to be a correspondent although many day-to-day details of the drudgery are left out.
Instead, the experience is distilled down to the essential experience of being addicted to following war while also being moved by it. The art itself is very nice, better than Rall and DeLisle's travelogue treatments.
I would recommend "War is Boring" to all who are thinking about going to a military or civil mission abroad because David and Matt give you a good first impression about. The story shows you an inside view of a "Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was". I've already heard that when someone takes part in a dangerous mission or witnesses an assault, their personality could change. Perhabs David's story in this graphic novel will finally prove that to you.
Even if you aren’t
A huge Matt Bors Fan-boy like
Me, this book is good