Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 05.11.2011 – Chew #27

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

485
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.6
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 2.3%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
story JOHN LAYMAN
art & cover ROB GUILLORY

Size: pages
Price: 2.99

The last issue of Chew was #18. The current issue of Chew is #27, part 2 of a story of which never read part 1. No, don’t worry. It all makes sense. If you let it.

John Layman warned us of this coming way back in San Diego, and I sort of forgot about it. I don’t tend to look at the numbers on comics (which explains why I’m not all that upset about what the number is on the outside of a given issue of Ultimate Spider-Man), so it didn’t really occur to me that issue #27 was not the next in the sequence. Then you get to the first page, and it just didn’t quite make sense. The thing is though, I’m used to that feeling. I open several comics a week where it takes me a couple of pages to get my bearings. Sometimes it’s because the comic isn’t very good. Sometimes it’s because I just have too many things to keep track of with my ever more addled mind. Yet other times, it’s a combination of those things. Chew #27 played right into that, in a good way. Helpfully, along the bottom of the first page, we’re helped to an explanation that, no, you haven’t missed anything, and to just go with it.

Writing a new story is hard. The set up of a first issue, either of a series or even an arc takes careful planning and work. You have to set the scene and give people just enough information so that they’re well informed enough, as well as entertained. A second or third issue is usually a lot easier, because the reader usually knows the basics, and the writer can just get on with the story, and not worry about the particulars. John Layman throws all that up in the air, ignoring the explanations and exposition, in favor of just getting on with it, and I think he had a lot of fun doing it.

We open on our hero Tony Chu laid up in a hospital bed, completely out of it, muttering the names of everyone but the person in the room with him, his sister, Toni Chu. Yes, she has the same name, and that’s all part of the fun. Things have changed since we left off, and we’re sort of brought up to speed. Toni is now working for NASA, or is it the FDA, as an agent, possibly in Tony’s stead? One of her former colleagues, a scientist well acquainted with psychedelic frogs, has a problem. He crossbred said frogs with the chogs (a chicken/frog hybrid, bred to skirt the anti-poultry laws and provide real chicken-ish meat), and we’re left with chogs that induce hallucinations when ingested. His special chogs were shanghaied and are being used to rob people just looking for a little black market poultry.

Did I mention that Toni also has her own food based power? All the good characters do. She can apparently see the future of whatever she takes a bite of. Tony can see the past. Two sides of a coin, it would seem.

I usually try not to summarize a story too much in favor of reviewing its strengths and weaknesses, but  if you read those last two paragraphs and don’t get get a sense of the wonderful madness that went into this issue of Chew, nothing else I can say is going to convince you. The book is insane in the very best way. Too often, creators fling together a couple of tired genre conventions, and consumers in their best high-concept explanations, exclaim, “give me Vampires, monkeys, and pirates, and I’ll buy it any time!” Chew is is so much more than that. It is 100% original. The very act of trying to explain what’s been happening is such a powerful reminder that this is a comic book, a story, a world we have never seen the likes of before. It is imagination, almost perfectly filtered into a comic book page, where these two collaborators made something completely unheard of before they started producing it. Even more impressive is that people have actually responded and supported it. Chew is one of those high points of the current comic book landscape, in that it both exists and thrives.

There’s little to be said about Rob Guillory’s artwork that we haven’t said before. I imagine that after Chew has concluded, we’ll have a hard time predicting where he’ll land next, and what kind of project that will be.The book doesn’t work without the dry humor his artwork depicts. Like a particularly funny television comedy with cuts and edits at just the right moments, Guillory lays out the pages and compositions in just the right way to extract the maximum amount of funny from the scripts.The dead expression and fat bodies of the chogs is so perfect and wonderful. Toni’s manic exuberance doesn’t need to be explained, because it’s right there in front of your eyes. Because of the dominance of “serious” superhero comics, most mainstream comic book readers don’t get a chance to experience what else can be done with a comic book page that they haven’t see Jim Lee do already. Chew and Rob Guillory lay out this other world that only the few readers of indie humor comics got to experience so far. But Chew is a gateway between the different types of comics, and hopefully it will continue to demonstrate what comics are capable of, in addition to the standard adventure comics we’re all so used to. What Rob Guillory does is no less impressive than Frank Quitely or Steve McNiven do, and the more readers who realize that, the better.

Yes, jumping to issue #27 is a gimmick. But it’s a gimmick that I’m OK with, especially given the track record of Layman and Guillory. I trust them to take me on this ride and know it’s going to pay off. Even if it doesn’t, I must admire the attempt. When have you see this kind of thing before? If they want to play around to keep them and us interested, open that door, and I’ll follow.

Josh Flanagan
I didn't even mention D-Bear!
josh@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. This reminds me of a Venture Bros. episode called Escape To The House Of Mummies Pt. 2 where, like this, Pt. 1 was never in existence. We’re dropped into the middle of this crazy time travel adventure with no bearings whatsoever, which leaves us wondering why the hell the main characters are in ancient Egypt with Caligula and Sigmund Freud. It was a clever episode in the same way that this sounds clever. I’ll be looking forward to it when I get the trade that collects this issue.

  2. Haha! Here we go again…

    Josh picking a creator owned comic the same week a big DC event starts…

    Though I’m sure you’ll once again be proven right. I only read Chew in trades but I certainly have more interest in any given issue of trade than whatever “this one changes everything” event that Johns can come up with.

  3. Sigh. I meant “Chew”, not “trade” in that last paragraph. Obviously.

  4. This issue was just another in an ever-growing line of Layman and Guillory’s insanely creative stories.  I don’t know how many times Chew has been my PotW, but it’s more than any other title with less than 20 issues to its name.

    Good call, Josh.

  5. Chew zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Flashpoint #1 is my POTW.

    Matthew

  6. chew?

  7. Great pick.

    Flashpoint spoiler: The good guys win…anticlimactically.

  8. Chew?? Really??

  9. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @boostergold4  Looks like!

  10. @comicBOOKchris  God, I love that ep!  That one and ‘The Lepidopterists’ are probably my two favorite episodes of that wonderful, wonderful show.

  11. @rottenjorge  @boostergold4  Have you read it?  It’s unique, hysterical and handsome art.  I’m not sure what’s causing any doubt.

  12. @vadamowens  –i second that. I read it in trades, but this series sets the standard for creator owned books. the complete package all the way around, and its always fun. 

  13. Wish the trades would catch up. The last one, vol. 3, only gets us through issue 15 I think and they’re already at 27! I need my Chew fix.

  14. @s1lentslayer  Read the first paragraph of the review.

  15. @conor  Thanks, I didn’t read it in fear of spoilers:)

  16. @comicbookchris You win today.

    “What the hell is voil?”
    “It’s a soft, sheer fabric that….”

    Great review Josh. I gave it a 4 though, only cause the gimmick of being a future issue didn’t wow me. It was a great issue but I would rather have got #19 instead of this.

    My POTW was Batman Inc #6 for having many Batmen and the Burnham art.

  17. I would LOVE to buy this issue.  Unfortunately, my shop doesn’t have any copies and it doesn’t appear to be available digitally.

    @IMAGE COMICS – I AM LITERALLY BEGGING YOU TO LET ME SPEND MY MONEY ON YOUR PRODUCT!  I have $3 in my pocket.  You can have it.  I DO NOT want to pirate this comic and I WILL NOT.  I could simply order it from DCBS and wait for it to arrive, but if I’m going to do that I should simply switch to trades.  YOU will make less money if I buy trades than you do if I buy issues. 

    This market isn’t failing because of the quality of its product (I’d argue the books are better than they have EVER been).  It is failing because it is either too stupid or too stubborn to abandon its broken distribution system and EVOLVE. 

  18. Sorry about the rant.  I am just getting frustrated with seeing books I’d love to read and having no timely way of acquiring them (legallly).

    This issue looks like a ton of fun and I’d love to read it.   

  19. @Stuclach I will send you my copies that way you don’t have to wait for trade!

    @Josh, great review. And jsut to expand on what make Chew work, at least for me, is it’s ability to be crazy, but stay rooted in quality story telling tropes, convenstions and genre language that make the crazyness work!

    This jumping ahead may be a “gimmick,” but in terms of this series, it makes perfect sense and works extremely well. What other series could pull something like this off? not many.

    POTW

  20. @WeaklyRoll  Thank you, but you don’t have to do that.  Just reread it and think of me.

  21. @stuclach  –i agree with your rant. Its very frustrating for me as well. You can’t buy what’s not available. 

    Why didn’t you go back and read this review 3 months ago so you could tell your shop to pre-order it? (but the guy at the shop was too busy playing warhammer to remember to do that for you anyways) YOU ARE TEH PROBLEM!!!!!!!111111oneone

  22. @stulach and @wally: Are you guys pre-ordering? If so, your shops suck BALLS. I’d advise trying to order online, then having them mailed to you (assuming you guys are in the US). The issues always make it to digital within 2-3 months of print, but it’s a wait.

    Glad you guys seem to have dug the issue. Thanks for the kind words.

  23. @robguillory  Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment.  And thank you for the wonderful work you are doing in Chew.  The book is a delight.  

    Pre-ordering isn’t really an option at my shop.  I mention titles I plan on reading, but they don’t always get ordered.  I love the owner.  He’s a nice guy, but he is serving a VERY small market and can’t profitably supply some items.  When he does order titles from publishers like Image and Dark Horse he typically has to order very small quantities. 

  24. This issue was awesome.  Although I also think Flashpoint was pretty stellar.

  25. @stuclach  He won’t let you pre-order from Previews? That’s supposed to be how comic shops work (which is shitty).

  26. @stuclach  I’ve had similar problems. I pay $13 for twice/mo. shipping from DCBS and I get everything that I could possibly want and on time. 

  27. @stuclach  also, the ordering is currently open for the July books.  So you’ll have to suffer through your shop for the rest of May and June.  They are also more than accomodating with books you’ve missed, which they will add to your outstanding balance.  The most I’ve had to wait for a back issue is a month.  All around, they are superior to any experience I’ve had in a comic shop.

  28. My shop gets a few in, but i have to make sure i am there early enough to get a copy, I could ask him to hold one for me, but never like doing it.

    @stuclach alright, i will think of you while i reread my books, and go, Man, Chris will love this part!

  29. @stuclach  Dude, are there no other comic shops near you? That is almost unheard of, & a terrible way to do business on their part. I second your push for timely digital comics, man—especially from the smaller publishers. If the LCSes can’t supply, then ultimately why stay loyal to that system when it’s potential money & customers out of the publisher’s (& creators’) pocket.

    A few months ago, I couldn’t find a copy of Takio at ANY of my local shops the week it came out. There’s like 6 of them! And we’re talking about Bendis, one of the biggest names in comics right now. It’s a well-worn rant, but yeah, the system is really failing.

    And we wonder why we can’t reach a new generation, who might have to be driven 30 miles to the nearest shop & will have to pre-order all their comics. Do six-year-olds pre-order?

  30. @stuclach  Yeah, order online. Shouldn’t be THAT much of a chore to get a comic you really dig. This is AMERICA, for cryin’ out loud.

  31. @josh  I’ve tried.  And when he does pre-order “non mainstream” books, they are essentially first come, first serve.  I’m not always able to visit the shop early in the day.  I’ll keep trying.  Again, the owner is a good guy, but he’s got to stay profitable.

    @vadamowens  I’m seriously considering DCBS.

    @WeaklyRoll  Thank you.

    @jasonhart  The next closest shop is roughly an hour away.  I simply don’t have time for a two hour round trip in the middle of the week.

  32. @robguillory  It definitely shouldn’t.

  33. I did not mean to hijack this thread.  I apologize.

  34. @stuclach  It’s a valid discussion, especially pertaining to this kind of book in today’s market. I know you keep saying he’s a nice guy, and he might be, but what he’s doing is not serving his customer (you), and as a result, he’s going to lose business and be less profitable.

  35. @josh  Except that he has very little competition for my business.  I want to read books day and date (partly because I love interacting on this website) and he is the only viable source I have for a book like this.  Until I’m willing to wait for DCBS or trade wait he is essentially a monopoly.  I’ve almost reached the point where I’m willing to wait and then he will lose some business and be less profitable.

  36. @stuclach i made the decision that after i abought my ipad, i was going 100% digital. I have 1 or 2 more weeks left of books to buy which i had ordered prior to my ipad and then im done. I can’t support this broken industry anymore until it embrasses the digital business model better. Im sick of having physical issues and i don’t like comic shops.

    That being said, I’m obviously behind on CHEW, but it’s awesome and Im sure this issue was amazing! I can’t wait to read it in 2-3 months 😛

  37. @mikegraham6  ipad only? Wow. I’ve thought about it, and with the selection on Comixology, and constant sales I don’t think you’d ever run out of things to read. I’m sure Chew will be on the App soon as I think they are pretty much caught up with releases on Chew.

  38. its easy to take for granted a really good comic shop. I sure as hell did until i moved to a city with a bunch of crap-tastic ones. Buying comics shouldn’t be hard, but at a poorly run shop(s), with lazy employees it can be. 

    @mikegraham6  –i’m leaning that way too. My local shops are not worth supporting. 

    @robguillory –i started reading Chew in trades because it was too difficult to get the first bunch of issues reliably and i wanted the full story. I’m glad i have those trades on my bookshelf. They are wonderful. 

  39. This is like the eight time stuclach’s crappy store has come up. And he needs to drop em. Do DCBS with twice a month shipping. You’ll save a ton of money as well. And then use Mile High or Fearless Readers to get issues you missed.

  40. Chew is just a fantastic, fun, fresh book.  I didn’t even pick up the part on how Toni can see into the future, until i read your review.  I went back, and DAMN she sure can!  POYO!!!!

  41. Just had a look back and the last 6 issues of Chew have been pick of the week for me, which doesn’t really surprise me as I think this has been consistently in the top three things I’ve been reading since it started.  I haven’t read all of my other books yet but I suspect this issue will follow the trend as it was stunning.  Nice to know there’s still a lot of stuff in the future to look forward to with this book.  And if anything I think the art is getting even better.

  42. The ‘Future issue’ is a great and original idea.

    How refreshing.

    I haven’t read ‘Chew’ as to this point but will now seriously consider picking up the first trade.

  43. Funny– I was thinking about how Image did the whole ‘Image of Tomorrow’ event back in the 90’s were a lot of the books printed their 25th issues (sometimes) years in advance. It’s cool to see this idea come back.

  44. Being a nigh on twenty year old, i do not remember said event.

    We can agree that the idea is a cool one anyway;

    and i am glad about that.

  45. @robguillory – Maybe a question for your partner in crime, but you may be able to answer:

    If Toni were to eat a piece of herself, could she see her own future? In most of the other characters’ cases it would be a moot point wether or not their powers would work on themselves, but if she knew that her future was a bright one, it would be a reasonable explanation of her constant sunny disposition. If this is going to be addressed in the book, then I can’t wait! If not, then I still can’t wait! Love the book, keep up the awesome work!

  46. @scherem  Yeah, the idea was less gimmicky and more “Hey, the script’s written. Why shelve it for a year? Especially when it complements issue 19 so well.”

    @ActualButt  We’ll see……. 🙂

  47. To be clear, I didn’t mean for my post to come out as “this has been done before” but more of a comment how I had been thinking how great an idea images of tomorrow was (at its core). Its awesome that Chew took this, and likely did it in a way more organic way than those books did. 

  48. @scherem  Of course.

  49. wait a minute, is the @robguillory the ACTUAL rob guillory here?  wow.  um.  big fan.  to all reading, Chew is the best book on the shelves right now.  issues like this that play around with the conventions of story-telling are exactly why.  the world Layman has imagined and the art Guillory gives to bring it to life make every issue worth reading several times.  glad to see this got pick of the week over the blockbuster stuff floating around out there.  hooray for Tony Chu.

  50. I am a little late to this but reading about people’s comic shops makes me appreciate mine even more.

  51. I’ve tried but Chew does nothing for me. Don’t like the art and not a fan of the story.

  52. I have just acquired a copy of Chew #27.  I’m looking forward to it.  My shop owner miraculously had a copy for me today.

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