Chad Bilyeu is a Cleveland native transplanted to Amsterdam (via Washington DC) who is currently working to expand the comics vein opened by the soulful explorations of fellow Clevelander, Harvey Pekar. Following Pekar, Bilyeu writes, edits, art directs and publishes each issue himself. In the pages of Chad in Amsterdam, however, readers will experience the added value of a cross-cultural dimension absent in American Splendor.
The stories in this series all fulfill the promise of its title. Each conveys a specific facet of Chad's life in Amsterdam, and in the process simultaneously reveals facets of Chad's personality along with aspects of the character of Amsterdam. Thus far in the series, 18 different artists have contributed to the three issues of CiA (19, if you count Bilyeu himself), each adding their own ways of seeing to Chad's vision.
This, the third issue in the series, is the most successful yet. The cover image drawn by Will Robson (with colors by Greg Menzie) provides an iconic image of Chad's comic book consciousness as he heroically embodies an African-Amercan ethos on the streets of Amsterdam.
This issue's lead story, "De Vier Visspecialisten" (The Four Fish Specialists) is the fullest embodiment of all of the above yet achieved in the series. Illustrated by longtime Pekar collaborator, Gary Dumm, this story artfully weaves a (very) brief history of Herring in the Netherlands, with a look at how this fish moves to market – and ultimately Chad's own stomach – combined with pithy character studies of who does the moving. All dialogue is in the original Dutch with handy English translations provided, adding a degree of verisimilitude along with a bonus language acquisition opportunity. This is a combination of qualities that you'll be hard pressed to find elsewhere.
In addition, this issue includes the third insallment of "The Dutch Inquisition," drawn by no less than Bernie Mireault, the '80s & '90s alt cartoonist and creator of The Jam – along with plenty of much else, including a stiont on Matt Wagner's Grendel – nice to see new work from him!
This issue is rounded out with "Ronin." Illustrated by Lorenzo Milito, this story works to provide a window on the soul of the ex-pat, in another country via the metaphor of the masterless samurai, which works well here.