The New Yorker Reviews War is Boring

23.02.11

Categorie: Comics, David Axe, Matt Bors |
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War is Boring

Matt Bors art.

by DAVID AXE

The Book Bench blog from The New Yorker has this to say about my graphic novel War is Boring:

The unrest in the Middle East of late has proven that the romantic notion of the intrepid reporter running off to war is alive and well. Even in articles and newscasts that strive for nuanced approaches, we see a character we love to believe in and rarely challenge: the selfless journalist reporting or tweeting from the fray, making sure the news reaches the rest of the world. Which is why the war correspondent David Axe’s new graphic novel War is Boring: Bored Stiff, Scared to Death in the World’s Worst War Zones, with vivid art by Matt Bors, is worth taking note of. The title is taken from the popular Web site Axe founded as a platform for “a collective of citizen journalists” whose devotion to their work (“We are expeditionary, traveling to conflict zones whenever possible, on our dime”) suggests that they do not find war at all boring. But in this novel, Axe plays up the boredom angle, portraying himself as an adrenaline junkie who would rather face the barrel of a machine gun than his own reflection.

Axe brackets the book with his time spent as a reporter in Chad. “The thing I needed most was to do something that wasn’t for myself,” he writes, but he admits to buying into the notion that “going off to war would make me smarter, sexier and happier”—and is angry with himself when he realizes it doesn’t. Axe is increasingly bored, sometimes with war but more with the “stale beers” and mendacious conversations he encounters during trips back to the U.S. Though a sense of bleakness is palpable in passages describing stints in Iraq, Lebanon, East Timor and Somalia, none convey it as strongly or succinctly as a panel in which Axe’s colleague approaches him at a bar in D.C. and asks “How was Afghanistan?” To which Axe replies without looking back at him, “Awesome, dude.”

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3 Responses to “The New Yorker Reviews War is Boring

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by War is Boring and David Axe, Aman Chauhan. Aman Chauhan said: The New Yorker Reviews War is Boring http://ff.im/-yDDdz [...]

  2. Andrea says:

    Found this book a couple of weeks ago at a secondhand store where I pick up materials for myself (somewhat) and my remedial-reading students (far more). One of them, a freshman, happened to spot the book in the bag of material I’d brought with me to school — and no, I don’t assume that just because something’s a graphic novel, it’s for all audiences or something that won’t get me in any hot water with higher-ups! — and has been devouring it. It became one of those rare times I’ve had to make a kid STOP reading (partly because I hadn’t finished the book and needed to evaluate whether it’s too hot for my public-high-school climate, and partly because he needed to finish the assigned material first … those who wish to flame teachers with messed-up priorities, aim your weapons now!). If and when I either let him resume borrowing it, or he realizes he can get his own copy and no one can stop him, I’ll be double-checking to see whether he really “gets it,” or is simply enamored of the fact that there are really and truly books with the F-word in them, and not just the kind where someone has scrawled it onto the page when teachers weren’t looking. I suspect it’s the latter, as that’s certainly what he was focused on sharing at the time I retrieved my property, but knowing him, he’d be capable of the former with the right nudge here and there.

  3. SFC G. Salsburg, US Army Retired says:

    “War is boring” is part of a quote I heard while in the military over 25 yrs ago. I do not remember it word for word, but it was something like, “For the most part war is filled with periods of boredom followed by shorter periods of intense, naked fright.”. This is a truth that any wartime veteran will tell you. Hours or days of doing nothing but waiting for the enemy to reveal himself or launch an attack. When engagement with the enemy begins a fright comes over the soldier in which all he cares about is keeping himself and his buddies alive while killing as many of the enemy as possible. The periods of boredome outlast the periods of actual combat by more than 5 to 1.

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