Like a hearty meal with a fine dessert, faithful readers of the Image series Chew have a lot to look forward to with November’s 15th issue – especially after the doozy of an entrée John Layman & Rob Guillory served up with this week’s Chew #14. As the penultimate chapter in the five-part “Just Desserts” storyarc, this week’s issue showed FDA agent and taste-telepathy expert Tonny Chu get one step closer to chasing now rogue agent and former Boss, Savoy. Chu’s personal life is also served up, as he begins to know more about his would-be girlfriend while also allowing the readers to find out more about his ex.
Don’t worry readers; with Chew #14 just out, we won’t spoil it for you. It’s worth it if you read the details yourself.
November’s Chew #15 will mark the quarter point in the book’s run, and offers up a smorgasboard of delights including a special gatefold cover, extra pages, the introduction of two major characters and a shocking event or two that will change the book forever. We pulled up a proverbial chair to writer & creator John Layman’s dinner table to find out more.
Now sit down, dig in and pig out.Newsarama: Chew #14 just came out, with one more issue to go before the conclusion of the “Just Desserts” Story arc. In this week’s issue, you go into detail on Chu’s past and Savoy’s plans for the future. First up – Chu’s last girlfriend; that was a doozy. How’d that come up in your mind, John?
John Layman: "Just Desserts" is all about relationships and their consequences. I'd known for a while Tony had an ex lurking about. For what's coming in #15, I knew it was time to introduce her.
Nrama: And Savoy just took down Chu’s partner, but is also learning how resourceful Chu can be. Where’s Savoy’s mind at right now?
Layman: Savoy has not really changed. At least, what he’s trying to do has not changed, which is discover the truth about the Bird Flu Pandemic. Unfortunately for him, and because of Tony Chu, his job has become a lot harder, now that he is wanted by the law, rather than an agent OF the law.
Nrama: We’ve seen the relationship between Chu and Savoy change a couple times in this series – what’s it like for those two now?
Layman: Tony Chu is too damn stubborn and rules-obsessed to see that he and Savoy are very likely on the same side. Both of their actions have put a huge wedge between them and put them on a collision course. Chances are things will get much worse before they get any better. And, chances really are, they will NOT get any better.
Nrama: Although it was revealed a month or two back, the concept of fricken still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. How, John, how?
Layman: I dunno, but you have not seen the last of them. The next appearance of the “fricken/chogs” will be far more disturbing than the last, and will come in 2011.
Nrama: You’ve been building up some big things for issue #15, and that gatefold cover you sent is amazing. What can people look forward to with #15?
Layman: I confess I’ve been terrified of #15 for a while, because if people have started getting comfortable with the book, they definitely won’t be after this issue. It’s a huge game change in a multitude of ways, and the story will be significantly different after the issue. On the one hand, there is an info-dump of a HUGE amount of information, a staggering amount, in a very differently paced and presented issue. On the other, the book is fundamentally changed, and I hope readers will not desert in droves. All this being said, I’ve seen a lot of the art… and maybe I’m worrying for nothing… Rob’s pages are more awesome than usual. I think this new stuff really has him creatively jazzed.
Nrama: In a recent interview you said that the sales were such that you’re confident you’ll be able to tell the full story you intended for the series, lasting sixty issues. Can you confirm that, and if so, what’s that like for you steering a creator-owned series like this?
Layman: Well, I guess what I meant when I said that was we are profitable enough and sales are high enough that even if an inevitable dip occurs we should be able to continue to the ending we want. Which, in this case, is 60 issues. It’s a really great feeling nothing that we have the canvas we need to tell the entire story that I want to tell.
Nrama: Like some sort of comics casserole, your storytelling has layers – from the silliness to the discreet but intricate plotting, the mystery, and even the characterization. How’d you bake up this mighty meal?
Layman: I dunno. I have a hard time with “how’d you do it” questions, because my mind does not work in a way that allows me to identify where ideas came from. I just know that Chew was developed YEARS before the first issue came to print, so I had plenty of time to work out particulars. I spent most of 2010 working on Chew and only Chew, so not only am I very far ahead (like 7 issues) but I’ve really got a lot of the details worked out… so much I was able to jump ahead and write issues #26 and #27.
Nrama: Wow – I think that’s a record, writing eleven issues ahead.
Your work on Chew can be applauded for many things – and one that stands out to me is picking Rob Guillory to draw it. He’s got a very unconventional style that wouldn’t necessary work with some books, but for Chew it’s like food and a fine wine. Going back to your years editing and playing matchmaker there, how’d you determine Rob was your man? And how it it now over twelve issues into the series?
Layman: Well, I got VERY lucky. I knew I wanted somebody sorta cartoony and fun with a good sense of humor, so the art could balance out the unsettling and horrific elements in the book, and I’d still be making something fun, not something ugly, as it easily could have been. Rob has the right look and energy and instincts, but he’s also got this crazy work ethic. He works all the time, and is constantly trying to top himself, and make every issue better than the last, while still coming out regularly. I attribute this far more to stupid luck after 15 years of trying than any sort of editorial acumen.
Nrama: Back in July it was announced that Chew was being adapted into a TV series, and you’ve been quoted as saying Ken Leung would be ideal to play Tony. That’s very inspired – but what about Mason Savoy? Who can fit into that man’s *ahem* pants?
Layman: Well, we’ve talked dream cast, and a lot of other people have contributed their ideas too, which is a lot of fun to see who people come up with. My personal list often changes, but here’s who I’d like to see in the Chew TV show which runs in my head.
Tony Chu: Ken Leung
Mason Savoy: Brendan Gleeson
Amelia Minz: Felicia Day
John Colby: Josh Holloway
Caesar Valenzano: Wood Harris
Chow Chu: C.S. Lee
That being said, the Chew TV stuff being developed by Circle of Confusion and Stephen Hopkins is very cool, but my primary focus is and will always be the comic book, and being half of a duo who completes this 60-issue epic cannibal cop/sci-fi/humor monstrosity.What's your favorite part of Chew?