Chad in Amsterdam gives us a series of anecdotes from writer and leading man, Chad Bilyeu, an American living in Amsterdam. The first story gives an encounter with a Dutch man in a bar, the second is an excursion with a friend into the red-light district, the third is a chat with a cook as he orders food, and the fourth is a debate with a bartender over the definition of a “Amsterdammertje.” Those are short comic stories, there is also a one-panel encounter with a prostitute, is a photograph accompanied by Chad’s life leading up to his time in Amsterdam, a one-panel conversation about milk, a letters page, and the back cover describes Amsterdam’s youngest monument.
Chad in Amsterdam #1 is a very laid-back experience. None of the vignettes and stories contain pressing tales of danger or serious conflict, personal, physical, or otherwise. There’s no narrative through-line beyond the setting and the central character. Few of the tales of a solid starting point, and even fewer have a true ending.
And yet, there is something nonetheless compelling about this unfocused and relaxed reading experience. Chad seems like an interesting guy, and he’s chosen an entertaining set of anecdotes to include in this comic. Some are quite funny and present scenarios that tread the contradictory line of surreal banality. Others just present conversations that are interesting to follow.
Given that Mr. Bilyeu is both the writer and the main character, you can intuit things about his personality from the stories he chooses to tell. That feels a bit odd to say considering I’m discussing a real person who will likely be reading this review, but that’s the weird path we’re treading right now.
The exclusively monochrome art (with the exception of the front and back cover) changes from tale to tale and is the product of a team, consisting of (in order of presentation) Kim DeMane, Jared Boggers, Boyane, Bas Schippers, Denis Galocha, EKS Graphics, Chad himself, and Dotsy. Each artist brings a unique style to the table that makes their corresponding story their own. The styles range from cartoonish, to surreal, to low-fi simplicity. I never found myself displeased with the talent, and they illicit varying emotions throughout.
Chad in Amsterdam #1 is a grabbing read of an American man’s life in Amsterdam. It’s relaxed, often funny, and pensive. It doesn’t lead the reader by the nose; you are free to make what you will of each story. The team of artists bring something visually interesting and unique to their sections. As such, I recommend checking this one out. It’s available on ComiXology at this link.
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