Meet John Layman.
He is the writer and co-creator of "Chew," the Image Comics series about FDA agent Tony Chu, a cibopath who gleans psychic information from anything that he eats, except beets. Layman's "Chew" is filled with several other similarly bizarre components including a powerful food writer, a far off alien world and a fruit with unknown origins that tastes just like chicken. It's a story that has resonated with an extraordinary amount of readers, leading to multiple sellouts, accolades and now - best of all - a monthly column right here on Comic Book Resources!
Welcome to "CHEW ON THIS," CBR's monthly discussion of all things "Chew"-able. Following the release of every new issue, we're sitting down with Layman for an exclusive question-and-answer session about the latest turns-of-events in the world of Tony Chu. On top of that, readers are invited to write in to see their very own questions answered by Layman. In short, this is your one-stop shop for everything "Chew!"
This month, CBR News spoke with Layman about "Chew" #14, an issue that shined a spotlight on Tony Chu's romantic past and provided a glimpse at his potentially devastating future at the hands of rogue agent Mason Savoy.
John, let's dive straight into "Chew" #14. You know I'm a fan of the introductory sequences that you and Rob lay out from time to time, and this week's introduction of Min "Mindy" Tso is no exception. What can you tell us about this character? How long have you been waiting to introduce her into the story, and how important of a role is she going to play?
Actually, I'd like to stay mum on specifics about Min until issue #15, for reasons that should be obvious at the conclusion of the "Just Desserts" story arc.
Let's approach it from a different angle, then. Oftentimes, relationships of the past tend to have some sort of impact on future relationships, whether that's a direct impact or just the way those experiences color a person's perspective on partnership. How does Tony carry his relationship with Min with him? Is this something we're going to get a better sense of as "Chew" progresses?
The entire theme of "Just Desserts" is partnerships, both professional and romantic, so it's inevitable that past relationships come into play. We've seen that with Savoy and Caesar, and even Tony and Colby. In Issue #14 we get the first glimpse of a partnership in Tony's past, this one romantic, and a huge part of his life that will definitely impact his future.
Tony isn't the only one with a potentially psychotic ex, as Amelia's old boyfriend Dan leaves quite the harrowing message for Tony. I've come to the belief that few if any things in "Chew" are purely window dressing, so can we expect Dan to play a role in the future of this series?
Yep. Dan has already appeared, actually, in issue #13. He'll play a large role in the fifth story arc, tentatively titled “Baseball, Hot Dogs & Apple Pie.”
Clearly, Tony and Amelia are a lot happier with each other than they seemed to be with their exes - for now, at least. Although there's plenty of romance here, history indicates that neither half of this couple has been lucky in love in the past. Should we be bracing ourselves for some future turmoil between Tony and Amelia?
Actually, answering that question would spoil a lot of upcoming stuff, so I'm not going to. Sorry to be so cryptic this time around!
Very cryptic indeed, Mr. Layman. Moving along, the romance gets cut short in favor of some butt-kicking action as the scene shifts to Savoy's location. Savoy and Tony nearly cross paths here, but the bigger of the two cibopaths manages to evade capture before Chu is on the scene. Our hero is definitely on Savoy's trail - how much longer until these two finally go head-to-head?
They will continue to get in each other's way, directly and indirectly. In issue #15 we see the “measures” Savoy decides to take against Tony. This will get even more dramatic and pronounced in our fourth arc, issues #16 - #20, titled “Flambé.”
Chu is a little bit late to the party, so Colby and the big guy get some one on one time instead. Colby ultimately turns down Savoy's offer out of loyalty to Tony, but let's assume that he didn't have that connection to Chu. All things being equal, is Colby the kind of guy that would take a leap of faith and join Savoy's cause?
Colby, like Savoy, is much more willing to break the rules than Tony. Colby probably would work pretty well with Savoy, except that Savoy drew a line in the sand in issue #14 and Colby steps decidedly on the side of his partner.
Just when you think you know a guy, it turns out that Caesar hasn't cut his ties with Savoy. Is it a safe bet that this isn't the last time that Caesar's loyalties will appear to waver? Is it even safer to not assume anything about this guy?
Caesar is a very complex character. There are several more instances of crossing and double crossing in his future.
Savoy isn't pleased about the news that Chu is still on his tail, and he decides that it's time to "take measures to stop him." Why do I have the sense that we should be shaking in our boots right now?
Issue #15 is just around the corner. You'll find out then!
You know, it took me a couple of glances - and, really, confirmation from you - to figure out that this is Min's toe. Then again, I'm pretty dense. What's the significance of Tony holding onto Min's toe? Is it merely symbolic of the past, or is there a greater importance that we'll find out later?
A little of both. I'm not sure we will find out until at least issue #31. Damn - I can't believe I am actually referring to "Chew" in terms of numbers that are that big.
I'm glad you are! Well, that about wraps it up for this issue, John, but as always, let's get a little taste of the future. What's on the table when "Chew" #15 rolls around? Sounds like it's a biggy.
"Chew" #15 is a huge issue, a Thanksgiving special, with extra pages and a tri-fold cover at no extra price - and no extra price means $2.99, not $3.99 like a lot of other books of more questionable value. "Chew" #15 the one-quarter mark of the books with a multitude of revelations, the introduction of some major new characters and a least one huge swerve that will fundamentally change the very nature of the book. It's a bit of a gamble, and I confess I was scared going into it, but I've been seeing Rob's art, and I think it's going to be every bit as mind-blowing as I hoped it would be. If people are starting to get comfortable with the book by this point, they will not after issue #15.
"Chew" #14, written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, is currently on sale.
Check back next month for another edition of "CHEW ON THIS," and make sure to send us your questions!