War reporter launches comic book

War is Boring by David AxeWar reporter David Axe has reported from some of the world’s toughest
environments, his stories appearing in newspapers, TV spots, blog posts
and most popular of all, comic books.

His latest comic, War is Boring, (illustrated by cartoonist Matt Bors) has already caught reviewers’ hearts. Wired‘s Noah Shactman interviews Axe about his new book.

Shactman writes: “Over the past five years or so, I’ve had the unique pleasure — and sometimes, the gut-burning pain — of being Axe’s on-again, off-again editor as he’s reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Chad, East Timor, and a thousand other awful locales.”

He says that Axe’s graphic novels explore “his inner conflicts with the same intensity he records the ones between guerrillas and counterinsurgents.”

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

WIRED: “Why comic books? What do they let you say that isn’t expressed in your articles, TV spots, books, and blog posts?”

AXE: “Comics come with baggage that’s useful for what I’m trying to do. Comics lull you into a false sense of security. You think, this will be funny or at least unserious. Then we hit you with the explosions and the dismemberment. That contrast lends a sharpening effect to the awfulness and violence. Also, comics are great for conveying the, ahem, comic moments of being a war reporter: the bizarre Walmart-style arms shows, all the waiting around in crappy bars and hotels, the goofy stories that war-addled fixers always tell.”

WIRED: “You’ve covered just about every war on the planet. Why don’t you like being called a war correspondent?”

AXE: “Because I don’t have the resources to do war journalism the way I’d like. To me a “war correspondent” sets up shop on a long-term basis in a conflict zone: a couple months, at least. But me? I’ve never spent more than six weeks at a time on any war. Reason is, it’s just so damned expensive! Military embeds can be fairly cheap, but “unilateral” work can cost several hundred dollars per day. I’m going to Congo for six weeks starting in September. My costs for that trip, so far, amount to more than $6,000 — and that’s after cutting some important corners. Also, that doesn’t count the cost of the equipment that I, luckily, had paid for on previous trips. It’s not uncommon to spend $10,000 during a month reporting from some war-zone shit-hole.

“Now, that would be just fine if I could earn back that money. But the freelance market being what it is, the profit margins on these trips are very, very slim. I’ve lost money on many trips. In Chad, I got kidnapped (twice) and shot at several times while chasing a $200-story about child soldiers. Most articles and TV spots pay around that much: $200. Even if I string together 50 assignments from a single war zone — and sometimes I do — I might not make money. Plus, the workload might kill me, even if the bad guys don’t.”