Comic: Chew

I recently devoured (sorry) volume one of the bizarre comic book series Chew. Much as Queen & Country did, Chew opened me up to the idea of comics as a versatile format for episodic, serial story-telling in the vein of the addictive TV shows I like. It also, uh, kind of put me off my feed.

This darkly funny, disturbing and creative series follows the cases of Tony Chu, a Philadelphia cop who is a “cibopath.” When Chu eats something, he receives psychic impressions from whatever he eats. This complicates his diet, but also enables him to solve mysteries by eating the evidence. This leads him down some hilariously disgusting paths, through a dark near future ravaged by bird flu. Tony’s unique skills and circumstances set him on a collision course with all manner of weird types, including the poultry black market and the most powerful intelligence agency in the U.S.: the Food and Drug Administration.

If Chew were a TV show, it might be a mutant collaboration between Bryan Fuller and David Lynch. The plots are clever, the dialogue is amusing, and the artwork is a unique blend of the macabre and the comical, a horror show by way of Asterix. And it’s filled with bizarre, inventive SFnal and fantasy notions. Be forewarned: it requires a pretty strong stomach!  But it’s an impressive, singular concoction, and it makes me wonder what other unique works I’ve been missing in the comics field.

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