‘Chew: Omnivore Edition’ Has Big Bite

With the vast array of comic book titles out there today, a bit of a yin-yang situation has been created as a result.  If you’re the consumer, there has never been a better time to jump into comics.  If you’re an aspiring writer or artist, it’s tough to stake your claim in the field, let alone release something that’s original.  With that being said, two such creative minds have come together to buck the odds and bring us Chew. When I was first told about the title, I was not ecstatic.  Then I bought one of Image’s re-release $1 issues of the title at my local comic book store and was thus introduced to creators John Layman and Rob Guillory through the pages of their work known simply as Chew.

At first glance, I thought the art would take some getting used to.  It was a bit cartoony…scratch that…it was very cartoony, but as I soon discovered, the art fits the mood of the characters and the world in which they live.  So what is Chew about?  Obviously there’s some culinary connection, right?  Hey, I didn’t put that clever title together for my health.  You bet your medium-well steak that food has a lot to do with this.  You see, Tony Chu is a cop; a detective actually.  He also has one very unique and odd characteristic.  Tony is a cibopath.  Yeah, I didn’t know what that meant at first either.  It turns out he gets these crazy images flooding through his mind whenever he tastes something.  They’re not just any images.  He can actually trace the history of what he’s eating.

While that may sound cool (or not), these images are often disturbing or just too much to take on all at once.  For instance, if he eats a grape, he will be able to see the vine it came from, the vineyard the vine was from and the seed that sprouted that grape.  That doesn’t sound so bad, but wait, I’m not finished.  If he eats a ham sandwich, he’ll be able to see the pig that provided his meal as well as the moment the pig was slaughtered and the pain the animal went through.  Thanksgiving must be hell for this poor guy.  There is a bright spot in all this as one item on the menu does not give Tony Chu a mental playback of his food.  Beets.  Beets are the only thing that he can devour without experiencing an rush of newfound memories.  Needless to say, Tony is one skinny dude as a result of his, um, talent.

So how would any of this benefit an officer of the law?  When you can trace the history of something by attempting to eat it, who needs forensics?  Dead body?  Bite down on it.  Tony will be able to tell you how the victim died, when, and by whose hand the deed was done.  His ability can come in especially handy, as grotesque as it may be, when the authorities are following a cold case.  Sure it’s a little disturbing but Tony Chu is always one to bite the bullet (or ear…or finger) and take one for the team.

If you’re as curious or now as crazy about Chew as I am, you have arrived at the perfect time.  Image Comics has recently released a hardcover collection of the first ten issues titled Chew: The Omnivore Edition – Vol. 1.  The ongoing story guides readers down a curiously dark yet entertaining trail through the words of Layman and the art of Guillory.  If you’re not sold on my appreciation of Chew, then look no further of the feedback it’s gotten so far:

• 2010 “Best New Series” Nominee (Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards)
• “Best Indy Series of 2009” (IGN)
• “Best New Series of 2009” (MTV)
• “Offbeat, zany, unsettling and disturbingly enjoyable.” (ComicBookResources.com)

So there you have it.  Hopefully you a got a little education on Chew and Tony Chu (if you didn’t, I suggest gingko biloba for memory enhancement) and the unbeaten path that its creators have traveled in delivering such a twisted but fun tale. Fear not, as Chew doesn’t end here.  The ongoing series continues but this beautiful collection is one awesome starter and looks far more presentable than 10 bagged and boarded comics.  Follow the Amazon link below and dig in to your hardcover copy of Chew today.  Bon appétit!



4 Responses to “‘Chew: Omnivore Edition’ Has Big Bite”

  1. Gerard Iribe

    This the title you were telling me about, Gregg.

    I’ll have to check it out.

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    Chew is in my stack of comics I have yet to read. Looking forward to it though.

    Another independent detective comic I could recommend – “Fell” by Warren Ellis (Red, Transmetropolitan) and art by Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night)

  3. Gregg

    Ben Templesmith?! Brilliant!

  4. Brian White

    This one is definitely an interesting title.