Japan is a nation of foodies. Before Top Chef, Chopped or Hell's Kitchen, there was Iron Chef, the ultimate competitive cooking show. Before Anthony Bourdain went on A Cook's Tour, had No Reservations or endured a single Layover, Japanese TV has been airing a ton of food-driven travel shows. So when food blog EATER shared the news that DC/Vertigo had recently announced a June 2012 release date for Bourdain's debut graphic novel Get Jiro!, I thought, "man, after years of gourmet manga in Japan, are foodie comics finally getting a toe-hold in North America?"
Get Jiro! is the product of a collaboration between Bourdain (who has penned several non-fiction books and novels, and is now in charge of his own literary imprint with HarperCollins), co-author Joel Rose (who has also written novels and edited a few DC titles) and comics creator Langdon Foss. According to the Vertigo blog, here's a taste of the premise behind Get Jiro!:
GET JIRO! is a futuristic action thriller that takes America's newfound obsession with exotic cuisine to a manic, violent extreme. It takes place in a world where food and the secrets of how to prepare it are the source of all power leading master chefs to fight over Jiro, a mysterious top-notch sushi chef with ideas of his own.
In a recent interview with the Charleston City Paper, Bourdain explained the graphic novel project this way:
"It's a lavish production with a great artist," he says. "It's something I'm doing because I can. It will be food-centric; the food details will be ripe, hyper-violent, futuristic. I hesitate to use the word satire; it's not post-apocalyptic, but it's an alternate future where food and restaurants and chefs are the only source of status and entertainment left."
He says it will probably pit the internationalists against locavores, people who are willing to kill or die over whether the tomatoes are local.
"All I can tell you for sure is that it will look amazing."
Vertigo will release Get Jiro! as a one-shot, 160-page graphic novel in June 2012 with a $24.99 cover price.
I sure hope it's a great read, or at least whets North American comics fans / foodies' appetite for more, because it sure would be great to see more graphic novels for gourmets on this side of the Pacific. Seeing wine manga The Drops of God hit the New York Times Graphic Novel Bestsellers list is also a promising sign of something that I hope becomes a bigger trend here.
Just for fun, I've updated my list of manga for foodies with a few recent additions, so now there's 12 mouth-watering titles you can check out in the meantime. Bon appetit!
Image credits: © Anthony Bourdain, Joel Rose and Langdon Foss / VERTIGO, © HarperCollins Publishers