Books

Bored by Everything

Fleeting Excitement in War Is Boring

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CUMBERSOME CLASSIFICATIONS like "nonfiction graphic novel" and "comics journalism" could be used to describe David Axe's War Is Boring, but in this case the term "graphic memoir" feels more appropriate. Axe's book, based on the webcomic of the same name, recounts his travels to several war zones across the world. He's ostensibly a war correspondent for an arms trade publication, but more than that, Axe is a thrill junkie with an unquenchable and somewhat illogical thirst for being in harm's way. He's not interested in justice, or human rights—he just gets a buzz from the horrid conditions that far too many of the world's citizens find themselves living in.

Portland cartoonist Matt Bors illustrates War Is Boring, and his matter-of-fact drawings have the unenviable task of depicting war-stricken places like Iraq, Lebanon, and Somalia, and presenting them in an honest way that doesn't resemble coverage on 24-hour news channels. He succeeds with an unvarnished simplicity that tells the story calmly and realistically, even if its starkness makes Axe seems unsympathetic.

It's Axe's tale of redemption of sorts, and it proceeds at a pleasurably breezy clip, but Axe is a strange and unemotional character, soon becoming as bored with foreign wars as he is with the stifling peace at home in America. There's a lot of potentially fascinating psychological implications to this ennui, but the slim War Is Boring glances over larger questions in search of the next battlefield.

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