Book of the week 30: Chew 9 (and 10)

Yeah, my pick this week is old… Screw all that day-and-date shit, good comics are forever. They are all I need to please me, They can stimulate and tease me, They won’t leave in the night, I’ve no fear that they might desert me. Good comics are forever, Hold one up and then caress it, Touch it, stroke it and undress it, I can see every part, Nothing hides in the heart to hurt me…

Aaaaaaanyway, I resumed reading Chew this week and it blew me away:

Book of the week 30: Chew 9 (and 10) (Image comics)

Dear misters Layman and Guillory,

Thank you for the joy that is Chew. That was the most important thing I wanted to tell you. I got the first Chew trade for Christmas last year and really enjoyed it. While I moved on to single issues after that, I somehow never got past issue 8, despite the fact that I was loving the crap out of your series. After your winning of the Eisner for best continuing series last week (congratulations!), I decided to resume the reading of your series. Since there were a lot of other good comics I wanted to read this week (for reviews of which you have but to look below) I only read issue 9 and 10, finishing the second story arc ‘International Flavor’. These two issues though where the cream of my crop.

What I have wondered since the first issue of your series is whether or not your protagonist Tony Chew’s affliction of being a cibopathic is real? In the first issue you introduced the notion of someone gaining the experiences of whatever he or she eats. You have introduced this concept so convincingly that I started to look into it. While I think cibophatogy (or is it cibophathy?) is a fantastic gimmick to use in a story about police work, I have not been able to find any information on these cibophats. Strangely every google hit refers to sites about your series. This drives me banana’s!

I thought the mere use of cibopathics in your series was unique enough, but during the reading of the first trade I already realized you did not have all your eggs in one basket, and that virtually anything can happen in this book. This sets your title apart from many other currently published books, you really don’t know what twists and turns the story will take next. A good example of your unique characters is the mute chef, who can only communicate through cooking. You describe him as following: “A scholar and classicist, he has translated the complete works of Shakespeare into cuisine.” I understand that explaining the genial, surreal madness of this will not make it funnier, so let’s just leave it at that.

Praise however should not be exclusively reserved for the story itself, the way the story is told is also exquisite. You seem to refine the rules of the medium by such inventions as a page with three subsequent (and through caption boxes thusly addressed) cliffhangers.

Rob Guillory art from Chew 9 (Image comics).

Rob Guillory art from Chew 9 (Image comics).

And what about the art? While at first it may be estimated as ‘merely’ cartoony, upon further investigation it proves to be top notch cartooning in a most expressive way. Mister Guillory gets across emotions in his pencils as well as humor, drama and kick ass action scenes. From the last category I would like to point out the spread of Chew kicking in a door, gun ready, screaming: “Sheathe the fangs, motherfucker.

Rob Guillory art from Chew 10 (Image comics).

Rob Guillory art from Chew 10 (Image comics).

Issue 9 and 10 close out the arc where Tony investigates a small island nation that seems to have found the way around the worldwide chicken prohibition. His research however leads him to a conspiracy revolving around international chefs, chicken substitutes, a fighting cock and vampires. All the while he falls in love and his partner seems to be giving up his ass to cover for Chew? I hope we get to read some more about that…

To make a long story short: Thanks for the great comicbooking and congratulations on the Eisner. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your series and hope it keeps selling like hot cakes.

With kind regards,

Gerard van der Waal
1. Chew #9
Art: 9     Writing: 9,5         Overall: 9.3
2. Chew #10
Art: 9     Writing: 8,5         Overall: 8.8 

One response to “Book of the week 30: Chew 9 (and 10)

  1. (see the original at

    Yesterday, I read Chew #1 on my phone while waiting at the doctor’s office. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I couldn’t agree more with squares’s review on ComicVine: it is the most perfectest #1 issue to a comicbook I have ever read. Period.

    I had heard of Chew before, mostly because of the hubbub it caused when it was possibly being made into a TV show on Showtime, until it wasn’t, and then it was going to be a movie. I figured if it was good enough to be used as source materiel for something that I would probably watch someday, then it should be good enough to make it onto my list of comics I want to read someday, and it’s been on my “list” ever since. It wasn’t until I found the first issue for free on Comixology that I actually got around to reading it. And, yeah, freeking PERFECT number 1 issue!

    He’s “cibopathic”, which, near as I can tell, is a word John Layman made up for this comic. Looks like it derives from the Latin cibus, meaning food, and “pathic”, as in “telepathic”. Pretty amazing concept. Have you ever felt like that? I have. Not to the extent of Tony Chu, of course, but, often, when I’m biting into something, I’ll wonder where it came from, how it was harvested, what pesticides it was exposed to, or how it was killed. I think this is kind of a big thing nowadays with the current emphasis on organic, free-ranged, grass-fed, yadda yadda yadda whatever all-natural food. It was pretty neat of the author to take that concept and turn it into a kind of superpower.

    So, the setting is the near future, where the government has outlawed chicken because of a bird flu. How interesting is that? Only, according to Tony Chu’s brother here, it’s actually a conspiracy, there never was a bird flu, and it’s all just another system of control and part of the government’s agenda. I love it! Naturally, the ban on chicken leads to underground restaurants and special divisions of the F.D.A to enforce the new law.

    Once in the underground chicken restaurant, Tony Chu uses his involuntary superpower and discovers the chef, who the issue opened with by showing his bleeding into the soup, is actually a mass-murderer who mixes in some human meat with the chicken because it’s cheaper.

    And now, for the first time in the history of forever, I’m rooting for the cannibal! Wow. Never thought I’d smile as I saw one mad eat another mans face, but there it is. Yep, that just happened.

    With a wonderful twist, the book ends and leaves me wanting more. The entire book from front to back was absolutely perfect. There wasn’t one misplaced panel, the pacing never slowed, the art jumps off the page and makes me feel like I’m in the world… the whole darned thing is about as good a comic as you’ll ever read! I can’t wait to read all about the adventures of this cannibalistic cibopathic Philly detective turned F.D.A. special agent in a post-chicken apocalyptic future with underground restaurants and government conspiracies!

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