Are you a fan of travelogue comics? Personally, I sure am, so when I learned of [American] Chad Bilyeu‘s adventures in Amsterdam during the past 11 years in an aptly titled comic called Chad in Amsterdam I was thrilled. Add in the fact that it’s also a varied art anthology, and I’m hooked. Let’s get into it.
Chad in Amsterdam (originally Kickstarted) is a yearly account (starting in 2018) of the various conversations, cultural differences, and events which Chad has been privy to during his time there. He makes sure to delve into subjects of the city that you may know, such as the booze, food, and red light district, but brings a lot of new subjects to the table for those who may not know the town. I appreciated how he took an everyman approach to the story, and while there are stories that teach you a cultural thing or two, he also throws in conversations about differences in music tastes and even the etiquette and laws of riding a bike. While a lot of these stories do celebrate this lively city, some also work to show us some things that aren’t necessarily something to celebrate, such as the offensive and nonsensical Christmas entity, Zwarte Piet. That being said, the reader is also met with bite size bits of history, whether local to the region or more national, that all build into Chad’s journey in a fun or interesting way. I’ll also add, I never wanted to try herring until I read this series.
Each issue of Chad in Amsterdam features words by Chad, but the art for each vignette goes to one of a multitude of talented artists, many of which are actually based in Amsterdam. I found this hand picked roster to be very well paired with each matching story, and the variety makes Amsterdam feel even more sprawling and endless. One of my favorite collaborations in the series is between Chad and Lorenzo Milito in the story Rōnin followed closely by the first installment of The Dutch Inquisition illustrated by Jared Boggess. Suffice it to say, each style provides a different look to one unified voice, providing various lenses with which to view Amsterdam. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the cover artists because they are FANTASTIC covers are done by Kim DeMane, Lera Ryazanceva, Will Robson, Denis Galocha, and Dotsy.
Travel is a far flung thought at the moment and who knows when that will change, however I found this series by Chad Bilyeu to quell the exploratory wanderlust I had at the time of reading by presenting an enjoyable and organic-feeling account showcased by a powerful roster. I look forward to more humorous, historic, and at times bizarre stories from Chad and the Netherlands’ capital. The fifth issue of this series (where you learn about the aforementioned Zwarte Piet) came out not too long ago, and you can buy all of them physically or digitally here.