Pick of the Week
What did the
art & cover ROB GUILLORY
Size: 32 pages
In our recent chat with Chew creators, John Layman and Rob Guillory, I asked Rob if he was having a lot of fun drawing Chew, and he answered yes, because well, what else was he going to say on camera? But the fact is, as I read through the pages of Chew #13, every page proved to me that any given page of Chew is more fun than almost any page of any other book. And if Rob isn't having fun with that, then he's both hopeless, and faking it very, very well.
Right away, I want to make the point that if you've never read an issue of Chew before, I have no doubt that you could pick up this issue, #13 in the series, and part 3 of 5 of the "Just Desserts" storyline, and you would be able to follow it, and have a very good idea if you liked the book or not. You might want to go back and read what came before, but you wouldn't need to. You could read it from here. That might assault the sensibilities of a good many comic book readers, but the fact that you can do that, and I can read it, having read all the previous issues, and not be annoyed by that is something fairly masterful. What I'm saying is, if you were thinking of trying it, you have zero excuses.
Agent Caesar Valenzano went deep cover, and the only one who knew was Mason Savoy, who, as regular readers know, is now a fugitive from the FDA. But apparently, he's been keeping Tony Chu alive when his evil bosses wanted him dead. It's one more layer on an already layered story, and one more fun character in a world already littered with fun characters. Yet writer John Layman says he's got 47 issues to go in this story. I can't wait.
One of the most fun things about this series is that there seems to be a bottomless well of wacky ideas about food that work in this slightly skewed world where Tony Chu lives. This issue's disturbing contribution was "fricken". If you read the issue, you know what it is, and if you haven't, I want to to imagine something called fricken, in a world where there can be no poultry, and what that might be. It is disturbing. But then, it does taste a hell of a lot like chicken. I started to wonder if I'd eat it, and I still haven't come up with an answer. Then I start thinking about how much I would miss chicken if there was no chicken in my life. Obviously, there are plenty of vegetarians out there, and they get by OK, but it's kind of a staple diet item. In Chew, people are tearing each other apart to get chicken. Would that really happen? It doesn't really matter, but I love that a book this silly makes me think of it.
Just being silly, however, has nothing to do with being simple, or without impressive plotting. It can all work together. This book has both ongoing mystery and fascinating interpersonal character relationships working for it. There's a whole set of people involved in Tony Chu's life, and his attitude and body language shift entirely depending on who he's interacting with. I love that level of detail in the character. At the same time, I really want to know what's going to happen with Savoy, and Tony's new boss, and his partner, and his girlfriend. There's so much in Chew to grab hold of. See how I avoided a pun there?
While I am truly impressed the imagination of John Layman, I might be more in love with Guillory's art. A guy with Guillory's style is going to have a hard time in the mainstream comic book market in America. You're going to hear things like, "he's too cartoony", and if most of the work is in superheroes, and most of the work doesn't look like this, it's going to be a tough road for him. However, what's happened is that he's found a book that seems so perfect for his completely unique, yet entirely competent art style and made it work so very well. I'm not kidding when I say that every page has something fantastic happening with the art. Scan the faces on a given page, and you're going to see something that makes you laugh. There's a panel with a guy who is giving Tony the evil eye, and it immediately snaps to a close up on the guy, and it was hilarious. The aforementioned fricken is a wonderful reveal with a suitably nasty design. The simmering rage of Director Applebee is so much fun in every panel, and Savoy's slightly exposed gut in his cat burglar outfit is a thing of joy. Finally, that cover is a hell of a lot of fun.
I am so glad that Chew is being published. It's like nothing else, and every issue takes me somewhere I didn't expect. It's both fun and funny, and as a writer, it's impressive in it's imagination and scope. Chew is a wonderful example of where we can take comics, and it's so heartening that it's actually finding an audience as well. I can't wait for more.
Why were all the frickens just running loose?