Writers: Joseph Keatinge
Illustrator: Wook Jin Clark
Publisher: Image Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A culinary fantasy tale where chefs are celebrities and there's a great chasm between the Haves and the Have-Nots.
Everything takes place within this one city, but it has the animation and world-building feel of a Miyazaki film. Just, you know, food themed!
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Xoo is a young, unregistered chef. She should be going to school, but her parents are disabled and she and her dog have to run their family restaurant to make enough money to support their little family.
Geof is her uncle, brought in to help support the family. The local government declares that if he’s successful at the end of 3 months, he stays. If not, he’s out, the family loses their restaurant, and everyone becomes wards of the state, essentially.
It seems like both Xoo and Geof's problems could be solved if Xoo could win the local cooking competition. But so many people participate in it, and the stakes are so high, would it even be worth it to participate?
Oh, and there’s also something black and magical and murderous out in the forest.
We also follow another young character, Anant, as he tries to get into a culinary school. His parents are powerful, high-up members of the local government. And while he must find success on his own merit, rather than the clout of his parents, that might not even be his biggest worry if his parents are at all involved with that strange thing outside the city walls...
Culinary fantasy is such a cool and fun sub-genre to experience
The team brought culinary scientist Ali Bouzari in as a consultant on the comic
The art is impressive and seems inspired by Miyazaki's films
Some scenes look like a where’s Waldo picture, there’s so much going on in them, the detail work is just incredible
Other pages are simple, allowing us to focus more on the characters and what they’re saying or doing
Thought to pacing and panel layout is strong
Bonvillain’s coloring work is masterful
Her textured environments (is that canvas?) add a richness to the world while contrasting with the vibrant characters
Her cinematic eye in this comic could teach a college course on color (hot vs cold colors, drawing the eye to part of the page with pops of red, using limited palettes)
Maher’s lettering is an absolute delight
Fun sound effects and expert lettering by a true pro
Removing the border for comments under characters’ breath was a cool effect that didn't draw much attention to itself while still getting the point across
A page in this comic was used in a #LetteringJam Twitter event where different letterers showed their approach to the page
See what I'm talking about in my article on Lettering!
Really great backmatter including a recipe for crepes!
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
I don't really love any of the characters yet, but this first volume had a lot of plot to set up, so we may get more from the characters in the next volume
The art is a little on the manga side, so if you prefer comics with more "realistic" art, keep that in mind
It's a cooking-themed story -- I loved it, but maybe it's not for everyone?
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
It's a delightful work of culinary fantasy, a growing sub-genre, and a masterclass in color and lettering from Tamra Bonvillain and Ariana Maher (respectively).
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Stellar by Joseph Keatinge & Bret Blevins
Brave Chef Brianna by Sam Sykes & Selina Espiritu
Giant Days, Vol. 1 by John Allison, Lissa Treiman & Max Sarin
If you like the art:
Megagogo by Wook Jin Clark
Isola, Vol. 1 by Karl Kerschl & Brenden Fletcher
Wayward, Vol. 1 by Jim Zub & Steven Cummings
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Joseph Keatinge – Co-creator/Writer
Multitalented: Is executive editor of award-winning Image Comics anthology, POPGUN, and Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s ONE MODEL NATION
Was influenced by kids' cooking shows like Chopped Jr. when writing Flavor
Wook Jin Clark – Co-creator/Artist
Born in Seoul
Multitalented: Has also done a good deal of storyboard work for brands
Tamra Bonvillain – Colors
Known for her “lush, beautiful colors” (Jordie Bellaire) and for sometimes embracing “an off-kilter color wheel” (Paste)
Had flatting assistance on this title from Fernando Argüello
Ariana Maher – Letters
Often talks about the lettering process and theory on her Twitter account (@CommentAiry) and gives advice to letterers just starting out
Opinion: Is one of my favorite people in comics
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