As a major export of the United States, it is hardly surprising that war follows the trends established in other markets. Just as we have progressed over the last twenty years from huddling around a shared television set watching the bombs drop on CNN to calling up our favorite gloss on the war’s progress individually on laptops, netbooks, and smartphones, so too has the prosecution of war moved into ever-more ethereal digital realms. Technicians fly drone warplanes from half a world away, in a procedure that is hardly distinguishable from a particularly complex video game — except, of course, that it leaves very real holes in very real places and people.
Journalist David Axe thrust himself into this dissonance at the beginning of the second Iraq War, a reporter for print publications in a world where the only people who wanted another print war correspondent were the ones trying to sell the most complex digital weapons to the principal belligerent. In War Is Boring, a graphic novel illustrated by Matt Bors, Axe finds himself estranged from both the wars he covers and the denial and amnesia of the home front.
Axe structures his narrative as a series of reminiscences to his driver, Adrian Djimdim, as they travel to a camp for refugees of the Darfur conflict in Chad. Perhaps no more naive than the average newbie war correspondent, Axe describes the banal process of hunting down juicy stories in zones of conflict that are, as the title has it, mostly fairly boring. After a trip to Lebanon, Axe returns to the U.S. “Coming home was like popping Ecstasy,” he writes. Though his euphoria lasts slightly longer than an MDMA trip, the comedown turns out to be much worse. Axe can’t figure out what he misses about war, but he knows he must go back.
by DAVID AXE