So this week I’m starting a compendium of my favorite Image series, the kind of series that have effectively redefined the way I view Image as a publisher, so I thought what better way to start it off than to talk about an Eisner Award winner and one of my all time favorite comics, Chew.
Chew is the creation of writer John Layman and artist Rob Guillory and focuses on the life of a guy named Tony Chu (obvious word play, I know). By all accounts, Tony Chu is a pretty average guy. He works hard as a member of the police force, he has a brother that he barely gets along with, and he gets psychic impressions off anything he sinks his teeth into. Okay, maybe he’s not the most average guy, but living in a world where chicken can only be bought on the black market and the FDA is the most powerful government agency in the world, he’s about as average as people get.
Now aside from the hilariously bizarre premise, there’s a lot to like about Chew. First off, Chew is one of the few stories that doesn’t settle for being in one genre, but rather comfortably fits in at least three. If I had to describe it, Chew is a mixture of comedy and mystery with a healthy dose of science fiction. These qualities are brought into even sharper focus by Rob Guillory’s gritty, yet cartoonish art style, which will make you want to laugh one moment and feel a little nauseous the next. It’s an interesting state of mind, let me tell you.
The third quality that makes Chew worth it is the surprisingly solid plot. From the very first installment you know there’s something larger going on in the story than you can see. There’s a history behind Tony Chu and his strange abilities, as well as a connection between the outlaw of chicken and the deaths of millions of people as the result of a mysterious “avian flu.” Tony as well as a growing cast of characters with equally bizarre food-related abilities are in the thick of it, or at least that’s what Layman’s been hinting at in a few of his interviews.
Currently Chew is on issue twenty-eight of a projected sixty issue run, and I for one eagerly await the second half. Whether you’re new to comics or just looking for something off the beaten path, this is definitely the series to try.