Personal Pick: Chew
This month I engaged in a great many comics, more than I can say that I am proud of. One of the many properties I read from goes by the name of Chew, a series that I thoroughly enjoyed. As a matter of fact, I thought Chew was so good that I’d bring it to your attention in this month’s Personal Pick post. Chew, from creators John Layman and Rob Guillory, is one of the most starkly original properties I’ve read to date, covering topics and events that would only make sense in the mildly, and sometimes nonsensically twisted universe of the comic. Taking the angle of a set of detective comics, mixed with the culinary arts and circling around a wide spread chicken-based genocide, this book take its readers on one hell of a wild ride. Honourably mentioned by the New York Times, granted a Harvey award as well as a Will Eisner award, Chew is being hailed as one of the most exciting new Image properties, combining elements of horror, humour and intrigue weaved seamlessly into a crime-fiction story with some really interesting hooks. If this isn’t enough to convince you to purchase Chew, stay attentive for what you’re about to read.
The Story So Far
One of the strongest points of Chew, making it a lot easier to write about, is how basic the story setup is. There is a man named Tony Chu, and he harbours a secret that makes him one of a infinitesimally small group of people on the planet, at most spanning 4-5 people. Tony is a cibopath, meaning he receives psychic-style premonitions or visions from foods he eats, pretty interesting right? Right. Tony could eat an apple and tell you where it was grown, what pesticides were used in its growth, or when it was harvested; He could even tell you which tree it fell from. If Tony were to eat a hamburger, he’d have to experience the way the animal was birthed, reared and ultimately killed. This ability transfers to anything that Tony takes a bite out of, making for an interesting skill set and potential job opportunities. In the universe of Chew, a horrible epidemic has befallen the world, the event being brought on by a strain of the avian flu carried by chickens. In this new post epidemic world, chicken has been outlawed and become a black market trading item of choice. Tony acquires a job working for the FDA (a special crimes division of the U.S food and drugs administration), taking him and his taste buds on a whirlwind trip through a whole spectrum of sensations. Now, any reader can imagine the kinds of shenanigans Tony would get up to with such a unique and strange ability but John Layman will definitely bring some surprising turns of event over the course of Chew’s (hopefully) long run.
Starting out strong, this creative team escapes from the shade of their past industry positions and break onto the scene with one of the most powerfully produced new series on shelves nowadays. John Layman’s work is the first thing new readers will notice as they begin pounding through issues or trades of Chew. Layman, a past editor, has an amazing talent for individualizing each of his characters and designing them to be completely and exclusively different. All of Layman’s characters speaks from a lone perspective, each one embodying a different trait wholly and expressing vividly from their unique stand point on issues occurring in their universe. Above each of the characters complexities there is also the amazing realism surrounding the actual world these people live in. The world of Chew is exceedingly well realized, the taxing nature of life without one of the major meats present feels correctly stark along with all the underhanded dealings that go on around the poultry delicacies.
Following with the strength of Layman’s grasp on realism and characterization comes Rob Guillory’s incredible work with the art design of Chew. Along with the writers strong characterization and design work, Guillory lays down a dense foundation for his art to be presented upon. Each and every character in the universe of Chew has a notably distinguishing set of lines, both thick and thin, that create the characteristic shape and feel that each person carries. Characters in Chew all have a physical stature and disposition, a way of standing or a walking gait, always drawn with the same level of meticulous care that Rob Guillory takes with each page and panel of the comic. Guillory`s strongest skill when it comes to his perfectly refined art style is his unmatched consistency, tons of images have been been left burned into my mind with the same level of accuracy and dedication that define some of comics greatest artists. Rob Guillory considers Chew to be his first big break when it comes to the comic industry and truthfully, I can only see his career skyrocketing from here on out. His work on this book has been absolutely groundbreaking, taking each issue by storm with his terrifically consistent and whimsical characterizations of characters who could easily be real people who exist in a much less comical world then the one we read about.