Keb continues his look at taking comics seriously (since comics are seriously serious) by examining a comic that gets serious about food: Chew!
I just finished eating eggs. After I ate the last bit of egg white left on my plate, I got grossed out a little. I have to blame John Layman and Rob Guillory for that one. If it wasn’t for Chew, I probably wouldn’t have thought about eating chicken fetuses for breakfast.
Chew is an astounding series to me because it’s a humor series that is actually not very funny in retrospect. Not in an “Oh that’s funny, and ten minutes later it’s gross” kind of way. It’s funny because the writer knows that the series takes some really ugly moments and makes them digestible (pun intended).
Chew is not set in a pretty world. Yes, the comic is vibrant, the drawings are cartoon-like and the characters are quite over-the-top, but the reality of everything about the Chew Universe (Chewniverse?) is that it’s a dark place to live. There’s no chicken and the government wants it that way! How does one live without chicken?
However, it’s the same series that has its main character nibbling body parts and drinking blood to do his job. It’s pretty messed up what Tony Chu does on a daily basis to get his job done. I for one wouldn’t eat a dead man’s decaying finger. Being a cibopath is just flat-out gross.
I think that makes Chew a humor comic. You’re forced to take all that disgusting cannibalism with very little seriousness. If you start seeing Chew as something you want to relate to, then you are disgusting. Chew is one of those few series that you have to approach with a light-hearted outlook on life. I realized this one afternoon when I was trying to explain what the comic was about to a friend. It didn’t go over very well. Eventually I just told him to buy the first paperback and if he hated it, I’d give him his money back. FYI he loved it.
The art of Chew is the one extremely unique element of the comic that allows its readers to approach it with very little seriousness. The art sets the tone for the series and in my opinion, defines everything about it. It’s cartoon-like, loose and colorful. It would be impossible to read Chew if it were drawn by a John Cassaday or Jim Lee-type artist.
I really enjoy where Layman and Guillory take this series in terms of its story as well. They are always throwing a few curveballs into the overall story arc. While I would not use the “hyper” prefix to describe any of the elements of Chew, I will definitely say that it keeps you on your toes. I always have fun when I read an issue, and the single-issue stories that expand throughout the series are the perfect way to keep readers entertained. The characters are unique insomuch as they all have these strange quirks that allow you to either love or hate them. It’s also hard to take the characters seriously because everyone that surrounds Tony (the only serious character) is a comedic reflection of the things we see in everyday humour. This also provides a unique “non-serious” tone to the book.
Chew is fun! If it wasn’t for Chew, I wouldn’t care too much about comics these days. I really do have to thank the creators for giving me a comic series that is vibrant, action-packed and most of all, gives me a few laughs while making me question my food choices.