Marie’s Reading: “Chew” by John Layman, illustrated by Rob Guillory


Welcome to the alternate reality of Chew, where chicken is banned and the Food & Drug Administration is all-powerful.  Meet Tony Chu, our hero, who is a cibopath: he gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats.  Which makes him a fantastic detective–as long as he’s okay with, you know, nibbling on a severed finger or two so that he can get an impression of whodunit.


Credit: “Bleeding Cool”

Tony is a detective with the FDA, busting chicken-smuggling rings.  Chicken is outlawed due to bird flu, so the government says, but it’s revealed fairly early on that there is a big government cover-up and conspiracy behind the “bird flu” propaganda.  Tony’s unique abilities make him an asset to the force, but often at the expense of personal dignity.  He’s a good cop in the classic mold–an outsider, dedicated to his cause, and determined to enforce the law and bring down criminals.

I loved this.  It’s funny and weird and kinda gross, on top of being a well-constructed dystopia and wonderfully executed police procedural.  The art is great–all sharp angles and just so…fantastically icky-looking.  You would stick to everything in this universe, and it looks like it doesn’t smell very good, either.  I also love how Guillroy positions his characters, and their faces (noir-esque squinty eyes and all) are wonderfully expressive.  The light artwork helps to counteract the dark and gruesome parts of the story.

The tone is darkly funny, and it’s incredibly engaging and smart.  It’s very character-driven, and each character is dimensional and intriguing.  The conspiracy/mystery element is very promising, too.  Mostly, though, it’s got a delightfully original and creative set-up, a fantastically weird world to build and play in, and engaging characters and storytelling.

I’ve only read the first volume so far, and I’m so looking forward to seeing where this wonderfully creative set-up goes!



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