“CHEW SCRIPT BOOK” (Book Review)

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Originally published at Fangoria.com on March 20, 2011

CHEW SCRIPT BOOK (Image Comics) reprints the origin story of Tony Chu, the cannibal detective. What makes this reprint different is that this is the comic book script of the first issue. This is a behind-the-scenes look at how life begins with a final draft. The story and art makes this series a definite must-have for comic book fans!

The opening text is a vivid and almost-lyrical prose. Imitating Charles Dickens and focusing on the mundane, the author spends most of time dictating how a chef slices his onions, chops his carrots and boils his soup pot. In layered detail, the reader is learning how the chef prepares his meal. Without hesitation, the cook suddenly cuts his own thumb off. The missing finger falls directly into a pot of boiling water.

Tony has a rare and unique talent that only comes out when he’s eating food. As a Cibopathic, Tony can psychically hear the thoughts of the food he eats. When he takes a bite out of a hamburger, he witnesses how the cow died after being whacked in the head with a sledgehammer. He prefers to eat beets because they absolutely have no thoughts whatsoever.

Tony and his partner, John Colby, are on the search for a serial killer. These lawmen would never have thought they would randomly find him in a restaurant. When Tony takes a sip out of the chicken soup, he automatically feels the psychic sensations stirring. He experiences the dying moments from each one of the killer’s victims.

In his mind, the detective can hear their never-ending screams. Tony doesn’t care anymore if he loses his badge and gun. The serial killer defiantly refuses to talk during his interrogation. Tony will do anything to find closure for the fallen victims, even if it means eating the murderer alive to get his answers.

As the writer and letterer, John Layman (pictured) is well-detailed in his wording and descriptions. Layman’s witty dialogue hits the right notes as the story shifts into a police procedural. Even without visuals, the writer completely grabs the reader’s attention and never lets go. Because of the author’s writing style, your jaw will drop when you read how Tony starts eating flesh!

Rob Guillory enhances the script with life and energy through his art and colors. Because of Layman’s notes, the artist is able to add his quirky style to the text. Guillory provides the character designs of Tony Chu and some of the supporting cast. Readers are given a chance to see how the artwork begins with a rough sketch and ends with a fully illustrated page.

Highly recommended for comic book buffs, CHEW SCRIPT BOOK is a bizarre and twisted cannibal tale, which also happens to be an entertaining detective story. If you are interested in writing a comic, learn from the best. This is how Layman and Guillory created such a fresh and original concept. Just one single read from this CHEW series and you will automatically be begging for more!