...but I wouldn't want to live there.

Go abroad on the cheap with these itinerant comic stories.

Burma Chronicles

Canadian Guy Delisle would have you believe that, despite all its political turmoil and persistent paranoia, Burma (or, as the current repressive regime calls it, Myanmar) proves to be a fascinating if existentially elusive place. His memoiristic Burma Chronicles (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95) shows how the military dictatorship’s quirky thought control trickles down to citizens of every social stratum and to foreigners like himself. The cartoonist encounters magazines with “offending” articles cut out, ironclad e-mail filters gone rusty and protesters with water balloons. With a simple yet memorable style, Delisle captures the country’s faulty infrastructure—and its fusion of contradictory realities—with a mix of amazement and horror, ultimately realizing that when disinformation becomes routine, the only trustworthy way to navigate through the everyday is with hearsay and rumor.


Back when years only had three numbers in them, men lived or died by sword and superstition. After years of blade brawls, Sven—the lead of Brian Wood’s Viking drama Northlanders (DC Comics/Vertigo, $9.99)—decides to change his warrish ways and return to his family’s estate in Orkney. But in the first collected volume of this ongoing series, Sven finds that returning home can be the most displacing (and violent) journey of all. Amid all the enjoyably bloody battles and desperate sex (gorgeously rendered by Davide Gianfelice), Wood cleverly plays with the philosophical and religious shifts overcoming not only Sven, but the cultures clashing all over the world during the Dark Ages.


Speaking of culture clash, while he was living in Japan two years ago, German programmer and cartoonist Dirk Schweiger created a sort of open-source travelogue on his blog. Readers would suggest things he should do, and ask him for observations about day-to-day life. Responses came in the form of Schweiger’s sharply observed comic strips, now collected in Moresukine (NBM, $15.95). His assignments take him to pay-by-the-hour “love hotels” and make him reckon with the slipperiness of gender identity in Tokyo nightlife. The title comes from the Japanese word for Moleskine diaries, and its cartoon-filled pages show a hilarious, insightful dance between the author’s public and private lives.