Warning: Do not read if you are squeamish. However, do read if you think that food and violence should go hand in hand. And get married. And have a baby–because if they did, it would most definitely be Chew.
Meet Tony Chu. He’s a Cibopathic FDA agent, which means he gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats. So when you combine Agent Tony Chu and a post-apocalyptic USA where the Avian flu has wiped out 23 million Americans and chicken has been made illegal, you get (pardon me for this) a recipe for one delightfully gruesome graphic novel. Although it’s almost absurdly predictable, you can guess that Chu will be eating some vile and disgusting things to solve crimes of murder, espionage and possibly even an alien invasion (cliffhanger???). Yes, this is the appropriate moment to wince with glee. The pure curiosity of seeing what Chu will be forced to eat next is good enough to keep you turning the pages but there are mysteries to get to the bottom of, double agents and even a little bit of romance between Chu and Amelia Mintz, a food critic and Saboscrivner.
Despite the magnitude of vomitous and dismembered body part panels, splashed across the pages in a multitude of greens, greys and reds, it’s not disturbing enough to have to turn away from. Instead of capitalizing on the hardboiled detective aspect of the story, Rob Guillory, the illustrator, has made everything eerily friendly. I know, a strange way to describe an illustration of a man getting a cleaver to the side of the face but it’s true. The depictions of the good and bad guys and even the corpses are akin to those that you would have become familiar with when watching Saturday morning cartoons. It’s as if they grew up and got a few tattoos.
After reading Relish, this is the other end of the ‘cute’ food spectrum but equally as entertaining. The Omnivore edition is hardcovered version of the graphic novel and a combination of the first two paperback editions. Approximately five minutes after finishing volume 1, I placed my order for the next two in the series and you all know what I’ll be doing all next week.