Saturday, October 11, 2008

Burma Chronicles

Burma Chronicles is the third graphic novel travelogue by cartoonist Guy Delisle and is about the year he spent in Burma, which is also known as Myanmar. I enjoyed Burma Chronicles as I did Delise's Pyongyang (his Shenzhen: A Travelogue From China didn't leave much of an impression on me) because I'll probably never visit those countries so reading about his immersive experiences living in those oppressive countries gave me a much better sense of what living there entails than from what I knew about those countries before reading these graphic novels.

Guy Delisle lived in Pyongyang and Shenzhen for a year while he was a supervisor for animation studios there and he was in Burma for a year working on his graphic novels. When Delisle wasn't working on animation or comic book projects in those countries he does as Joe Sacco, comics' other comic book journalist (excellent cartoonist of Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde) does, which is to live amongst the local people and then produce graphic novels about their experiences.

Burma borders China and Thailand and like Pyongyang (North Korea) is a very oppressive country. Burma also has many regions that are very impoverished and is / was one of the countries that Doctors Without Borders provides medical services to (Delisle, while in Burma, lived amongst some of those doctors and traveled with them sometimes when they went out in the field). Before reading Burma Chronicles I hadn't known that drug use in Burma is amongst the highest in the world and as Delisle states "In my humble opinion, it suits the government fine. They'd probably prefer to see young Kachins stoned to the gills than taking up arms and joining the ranks of the resistance." Learning about countries such as Burma and Pyongyang in which personal advancement is next to impossible, poverty is so prevalent, and just daily living is such a grind, makes me appreciate that although conditions such as the economy and the present political climate here in the U.S. are amongst the worst that they've ever been in this country, there are many people in many countries around the world that have it much worse (and I'm not saying that people should here in the U.S. should just accept what's going on, just that everyone needs to increase their perspectives because the United States is not the world).

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