Here We Go (Chew)

by on Aug.05, 2009, under Comics

It’s the start of a glorious new blogera, and just as I did with my previous blogcarnation (which I will not link to, since that persona has enemies), I’ll start with a comic review.  It’s one of a few things in this world that I read and you don’t.


John Layman has been in comics for quite some time, according to his Wikipedia page, and in that time has written a bunch of minor superhero books and some crossovers in the Army of Darkness line, which I don’t read because I hate coming into things in the middle and the comic has been going on since the early 1990s.

Then came Chew.

In it, Layman has managed to do something pretty rare: invent a new superpower that isn’t lame. His hero Tony Chu is what he calls “cibopathic.” “That means,” explains the narration bubble, “he can take a bite of an apple, and get a feeling in his head about what tree it grew from, what pesticides were used on the crop, and when it was harvested. Or he could eat a hamburger and flash onto something else entirely.” (“Cibo” would be from “cibus,” the Latin word for food.) In Issue 1 Tony confronts a serial killer who commits suicide rather than tell what he’s done with his victims. Tony gets the information anyway by chewing off the dead man’s face.

(Did I mention that my neighborhood comic-book store owner declared that I would definitely like Chew because I like “that weird stuff”?)

Now, you can definitely see how this might be disastrous and disgusting. Or you can imagine it handled with humor by a guy who’s been writing Evil Dead-derived stories for the last bunch of years. It’s the latter. For example, Tony soon goes to work for the FDA, now the most powerful law-enforcement agency–because all chicken has been banned. Because of bird flu. The black-market chicken trade dominates the criminal underworld. It’s completely ridiculous and it tickles me.

Chew is now up to issue 3 of 5. The first two issues were popular enough to call for multiple printings, so you can still pick up the back story, or you can wait for it to come out in trades. Preview here.


Since this is the first post on the new site, I want to take the opportunity to thank Jessica Winter and Adrian Kinloch with extreme heat and fervor. They came to me and offered to design this site–it wasn’t even my idea–and it’s beautiful. It was an extraordinarily generous thing to do. I am deeply grateful.

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3 Comments for this entry

  • Josh Joy Kamensky

    You may be familiar with the illustrious B. Otto Kunkel, of n et seq. fame, whose novel Indecision imagines a magical fruit:

    When you eat from this fruit then whenever you put your hand on a product, a commodity, an article, then, at the moment of your touch, how this commodity came into your hands becomes plainly evident to you. Now there is no more mystification of labor, no more of a world in which the object arrives by magic — scrubbed, clean, no past, all of its history washed away.

    That passage inspired a wiki called “Kunkelfruit” dedicated to “let you know what you buy”. 27 products and services were accordingly demystified before the site went moribund, though not dark.

    Of course, Kunk was riffing off good old Section I Chapter 4 of Das Kapital, in which our hero explains just why it is you don’t know what you buy, or where it comes from. (Short answer: Capitalism!)

    I suppose understanding commodities is not exactly the same as “cibopathy” and maybe both are grandchildren of the walk out of Plato’s cave. I wish the ancients had given more consideration to face-chewing.

    Mostly I wish comics were cheaper.

  • Josh K-sky

    There’s a good organic restaurant/pizzeria in L.A. called “Cheebo”.

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