Chew (comics)

Chew (comics)
Chew 1.jpg
Cover to Chew #1 .
Art by Rob Guillory.
Publication information
Publisher Image Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Ongoing series
Genre Action/adventure, humor/comedy
Publication date June 2009 – present
Number of issues 20 (as of July 2011)
Main character(s) Tony Chu
Creative team
Writer(s) John Layman
Artist(s) Rob Guillory
Letterer(s) John Layman
Colorist(s) Rob Guillory
Lisa Gonzales (#5-)
Creator(s) John Layman
Rob Guillory
Collected editions
Taster's Choice ISBN 1607061597

Chew is an Eisner Award-winning American comic book series written by John Layman[1] with art by Rob Guillory[2] and published by Image Comics. It is a story about an FDA Agent who solves crimes by getting psychic impressions by eating things, including people.


Plot summary

Set in a world where all chicken and other bird meats are illegal, after a catastrophic outbreak of the bird flu that killed 23 million Americans, Chew centers on Tony Chu, a police detective who is a Cibopath (pronounced "see-bo-path"[3]). Tony becomes a vice cop with the Philadelphia Police Department, and when on assignment, trying to find people smuggling chicken, he enters a black market chicken restaurant on invitation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He has a bowl of chicken soup only to find he gets a psychic impression of the cook killing people and putting them into the soup. He goes to bust the cook, only for the cook to kill himself outside the restaurant. Chu eats the cook to find out the names of the rest of the victims. He is fired from his job with the Philadelphia PD and gets hired on to the FDA by an agent named Mason Savoy, who is also a cibopath.[4]

The first case that Tony and Savoy are assigned to is finding out what happened to a Health Inspector named Evan Pepper, based on a finger found inside of a hamburger at a fast-food restaurant. During the investigation, Tony has a hit put out on him by a business man named Ray Jack Montero.[5] It is eventually discovered that Mason Savoy killed Pepper and when confronted about it, bites off Tony's ear to use as leverage in case Tony ever comes after him. Savoy runs off to discover what really caused the so-called Bird Flu, and banned all chicken consumption.[6]

Tony takes some time off and flies with his brother to an island called Yamapalu. Chu is there to investigate a certain plant called a Gallsberry which tastes exactly like chicken. Chu meets with a USDA agent, who tells Tony that she will tell him all she knows about Gallsberry, but unfortunately she's murdered and Tony is framed.[7] Tony has his FDA credentials checked and is released only to find out by biting another prisoner that another murder has taken place, over a rooster named Poyo, a cockfight champion. After confiscating the rooster, Tony goes to the morgue to find out more about Gallsberries. During this time, the chief of police steals Poyo. Tony than eats a Gallsberry raw and finds out that it is from outer space.[8] Tony sneaks on the base where Gallsberries are grown, evacuates several people that are imprisoned there only to find out that the entire crop of Gallsberries are burning.[9] It turns out that Ray Jack Montero is burning the plants to remove any competition, with a little help from some residents of Yamapalu, who are rebelling due to the capture of Poyo. Tony is shot at by an employee of Montero, but is missed, and has a confrontation with a person known as The Vampire who is also a cibopath.[10]

Tony finds out that Poyo had been moved to America, so he retrieves him and shuts down a cock-fighting ring.[11] It is revealed that Ray Jack Montero had been changing Frog DNA to make them taste (and look) more like chickens, creating a creature called Frickens, or Chogs and packaging their meat and calling it Poult-Free, a chicken substitute. It is also revealed Montero knew that the bird-flu outbreak was going to happen before it did, so Mason Savoy had his partner, Caesar, go undercover inside of Montero's company. Caesar was the one who shot at Tony in Yamapalu and intentionally missed. Montero is captured, and Savoy is surrounded by the FDA when they were watching one of Montero's buildings.[12] Savoy has a confrontation with John and escapes. Amelia finds a toe that was in Tony's fridge, given to him from an old girlfriend.[13] Savoy eats Tony's ear and learns more about him, specifically that Tony has a daughter by the name of Olive. Tony brings Amelia and John with him to his family's Thanksgiving. We meet his friendlier twin sister Toni. While giving grace, there is a 2 car pile-up outside and alien writing in the sky.[14]

A week later, the FDA is making the writing in the sky a priority over the chicken ban. Tony teams up with Mason's old partner Caesar to look for a former FDA agent named Migdalo Daniel who is a Voresoph, Migdalo attacked the agents and accidentally killed himself. A Kentucky Fried Chicken imitation restaurant called Mother Clucker's reopens selling chicken.[15] Tony and Colby investigate a food fight that resulted in several students killing each other at Francis Bacon High School. It turns out that a student named Peter Pilaf has a new food related power. After detaining him, Tony finds out that Pilaf had sent a recipe to astronauts on the Fisher-Okroshka International Space Station which exploded shortly afterwards. It turns out that a servant of The Vampire on the Space Station caused the station to explode and escaped with some computer files and a Gallsberry.[16] While on a mission with the USDA in North Korea, Tony and Colby find out that the FDA are using Poyo as a secret weapon.[17] Tony is transferred to NASA for the day to work with his sister. They go to Area 51, Area 51 has pieces of the Space Station including the body of an astronaut. Tony bites the astronaut and discovers The Vampire's involvement.[18] Mason drinks Migdalo's blood, and tells Caesar that there is a connection between people with abilities and the writing in the sky. Caesar then informs Mason that the writing disappeared four days ago. Mason decides to kidnap Olive. Tony and Colby are sent to investigate an egg worshiping cult that predicted the disappearance of the sky writing to the minute. They go undercover and sneak inside the church, and while trying to steal their holy book, the other members of the church drink poisoned Kool-Aid to absolve their sin of eating chicken. The cult's book is not written in English and Tony and Colby are fired from the FDA.[19]

Tony is transferred to the Municipal Traffic Division. His new boss seems very excited to have him there. Tony then helps to arrest a gang of bank robbers.[20]

Chew #27

Note: After Chew #18, the story then leaps to Chew #27 showing the reader events taking place a year later. It then returns to issue 19.

Tony is in the hospital after being injured in some way. Toni goes to visit him and after chatting with Caesar who came to wish him well, heads back to work. An old friend of Toni's shows up, he had gotten his hands on some Chogs (AKA Frickens) and they bred with some psychoactive frogs he had. He tried to sell them, but D-Bear showed up and stole all of them. Toni and her supervisor, Paneer, go to D-Bear's restaurant to confiscate the Chogs. D-Bear tries to escape but Toni, who had a gun already in her hand, jumps, bites him in the shoulder, and lets him leave, D-Bear is then hit by a truck and is taken to the hospital. Later, Tony has a mysterious visitor.[21]


Cover of Chew #15 with all main characters pictured

(By order of appearance)

Tony Chu

The protagonist. Tony is a cibopath. Tony originally worked for the Philadelphia PD, and then for the FDA. He's been called a "By-the-book square that never met a department regulation you couldn't love." He's a great detective and does not seem to know how to talk around women. Not much of Tony's backstory has been revealed yet, but he has a large family and that when he was a beat cop he proposed to his girlfriend named Min "Mindy" Tso who wanted Tony to eat one of her toes. She went insane. It turns out that Tony still has the toe.[13] Later we find out that Tony had a daughter with Min, her name is Olive.[14] Tony is fired from the FDA and is transferred to the Municipal Traffic Division.[20] In Chew #27, Tony is in the hospital after being injured in some way, he keeps saying the names of other characters while in a seemingly comatose state.[21]

John Colby

John was Tony's partner in the Philadelphia PD. When Tony gets a psychic sensation from his chicken soup and goes to arrest the chef, John is incapacitated by a butcher's knife to the face.[4] After Mason runs, John joins the FDA, with cybernetic implants where his face was injured.[22] John becomes Tony's new partner. John is often seen eating illegal chicken products whenever he can, and is apparently gay after sleeping with his boss to keep him from pestering Tony.[9] John was turned into a cyborg after Mason Savoy suggested it. He was informed about this after Mason attempted to get John on his side and attacked.[13] After alien writing appears in the sky John begins drinking heavily. Forcing Tony to team up with Mason's former partner Caesar.[15] Later, Colby has sobered up enough to work with Tony again. He can control electronic devices with the computers in his head, even though he doesn't understand how.[16] Colby is transferred out of the FDA to an unknown new job.[20]

Chow Chu

Chow is Tony's older brother. He is a former Chicken chef and used to host a TV show called In The Kitchen With Chow Chu. After chicken was banned he freaked out on air and his show was put on permanent hiatus. He began buying illegal chicken[4] He found out about Montero's business and informed Tony.[23] He was tracked down and sealed inside a vault.[6] Chow moves to Yamapalu, where chicken is not illegal and he opens a restaurant there. However he finds out that Yamapalu does not serve chicken but Gallsberrys instead.[7] Tony saves Chow from the island but has to break his jaw to get him to leave.[9] For Thanksgiving Chow cooks his family an illegal turkey, and because of his broken jaw he cannot give grace so Tony has to do it.[14] Chow eventually gets back on TV, and in an alternate future was shot in the head by a member of E.G.G.[18]


Also known as Deshawn Berry, D-Bear sells Black Market Chicken. He informs to the FDA so they let him continue. He may have killed at least 5 people. He leads Tony and John into a black market chicken restaurant which results in John getting his face cut and Tony getting outed as a cibopath.[4] John confronts D-Bear, beats him up and extorts him for $3000 a month.[22] D-Bear partners with Tony to shut down an illegal cock-fighting ring and free Poyo.[11] D-Bear sells a huge shipment of black market chicken to Mother Clucker's.[15] In Chew #27, D-Bear steals some Psychoactive Chogs from one of Toni's friends, he uses them in his restaurant to get customers high and then steal from them. Toni bites him in the shoulder, he's hit by a truck and is sent to the hospital.[21]

Mason Savoy

Savoy was Tony's first partner at the FDA. He's a large man who fights with a pair of sai. He is also a cibopath and worked with the FDA for a very long time. He is very interested in what actually happened on the day of the bird-flu incident, and a flashback showed him holding a dying woman in his arms on that day. It is revealed that Savoy is the one who killed Evan Pepper, but not why.[6] Mason is found by the FDA, he kills most of the agents and wounds John Colby, it turns out that Mason is the one who got Colby turned into a cyborg.[13] Mason now has a vial of blood from the Voresophic Daniel Migdalo, which if he drank it would make him incredibly smart with the side-effect of insanity.[15] Savoy is currently a fugitive but is still continuing his investigation.

Mike Applebee

Applebee is Tony's boss at the FDA. He doesn't like Tony and tries to make his job very difficult. Once, Applebee was informed that a hit was put on Tony and only decided to inform Tony after realizing it meant more paperwork if he was killed.[23] Applebee picked Colby to be Tony's new partner mainly because Colby pretended to blame Tony for getting injured.[22] To get Applebee to leave Tony alone, Colby has sex with him.[9] Afterwards, Applebee tries to be more friendly towards Tony but this is clearly difficult.[24] Applebee decides to partner Tony up with D-Bear.[11] When Tony decides to do surveillance on Montero, Applebee makes sure that Tony is the one doing the surveillance all the time, but Colby decides to do it instead.[12] When Colby confronts Mason, Applebee tells Tony that if Colby is hurt he'll demote him down to meter maid.[13] Applebee invited Colby over for Thanksgiving, but Colby doesn't show up.[14] Soon after, Applebee begins sending Colby and Tony on more and more dangerous and suicidal missions.[11] John Layman, the author of Chew has revealed that Applebee is one of the characters who will survive until the end of the series.[1]

Amelia Mintz

Amelia is a food critic at a newspaper. She is a Saboscrivner. After seeing her a few times, Tony finally gets to meet her when he is supposed to get her fired, after she gets bored and decides to start writing about disgusting foods causing several people to vomit. When Tony goes to her office, she helps him defuse a situation with some terrorists from the group E.G.G.. She goes with the governor of Yamapalu.[25] After finding out that he's imprisoning people, she is also captured.[9] She is one of the people Tony saves from Yamapalu, and soon after they start dating.[24] She starts writing about food for him so he can taste them without getting psychic sensations.[11]

The Vampire

The Vampire (Real name unknown) is a cibopath from either Russia or Serbia. Not much is known about him. He pretends to be a vampire to inspire fear and drinks blood instead of biting to learn things psychically using his powers. He sent agents to the Gardner-Kvashennaya International Telescope[23], he murdered the USDA agent Lin Sae Woo and her specially trained cyborg Rat Jellybean[7], invaded a compound on Yamapalu[9], saved the Cibolocuter Fantanyeros only to kill him and drink his blood.[10] His minion sabotages a space station, escapes and brings The Vampire some computer files and a Gallsberry.[16] He speaks Russian and English.

Toni Chu

Toni (Short for Antonelle) is Tony and Chow's sister. She works for NASA. Toni worked for a long time at the Farmington-Kapusta International Telescope in the Amazon[21]. She was supposed to be transferred to the Gardner-Kvashennaya International Telescope[14] but she stays in the states after alien writing shows up in the sky[16]. She teams up with Tony at Area 51 and foils an E.G.G. plot to kill the President of the United States, the Queen of England, The Pope and her brother Chow[18]. Toni also stops D-Bear from selling psychedelic frickens at his black market chicken restaurant[21]. It is revealed that Toni has a food-related power in issue #19.


Gardner-Kvashennaya International Telescope

The Gardner-Kvashennaya International Telescope is one of the three most powerful telescopes in the world. The operating budget is 34 million dollars per year. It spent 2 years focused on the planet Altilis-738. Mason and Tony head there to find out about the mysterious death of Senator Hamantaschen. When they got there they found out that the telescope only needed 3 million to operate and they used the rest of the money on prostitutes, drugs and a llama. It turns out the prostitutes worked for The Vampire and the telescope station was mostly destroyed.[23] The telescope was eventually repaired and made operational and Tony's fraternal twin sister Toni is going to be working there.[14] Later, Toni tells Tony that she will not be transferred to the station.[15]


Yamapalu is one of the smallest populated islands in the Western Pacific Ocean. The governor of the island has been recruiting and kidnapping some of the top chefs and food critics in the world to cook a plant called a Gallsberry which tastes like chicken when cooked that only grows on Yamapalu. The island is eventually attacked by Montero and most of the Gallsberries are destroyed. The governor shoots himself after a meeting with The Vampire.[7][8][9][10]


Altilis-738 is a the third planet in a small solar system more than 24 light years away. It is populated by a species of purple people. 24 years ago strange writing appeared in the sky causing panic and then 24 years later, when the light reaches Earth, it is revealed the planet exploded.[23] The same writing appeared above the Earth.[14]

Mother Clucker's

Mother Clucker's is a Kentucky Fried Chicken imitator that opened 35 years ago. After the Chicken ban it was closed down. The owner of the restaurant is bitter towards the FDA and still hangs around the closed restaurant. After alien writing appears in the sky he decides to buy black market chicken and reopen his restaurant to the public.[15]

Francis Bacon High School

Francis Bacon High School is a highschool attended by Peter Pilaf and also Tony's daughter Olive. Their school's team name is the Shakin' Bacons. Several students there were killed in a food fight.[16]

Food related powers

The Chew Universe is filled with a variety of characters who exhibit supernatural powers relating to food and their interpretation thereof.


A Cibopath can take a bite from anything and get a psychic sensation of what has happened to that object. The only thing it does not work on is beets. Tony Chu, Toni Chu, Olive Chu, Mason Savoy, and The Vampire are Cibopaths (Though Toni's power seems to give information regarding the future of what she eats, not its past).


A Saboscrivner can write about food so accurately that people get the sensation of taste when they read about the food. Amelia Mintz is a Saboscrivner.


A Cibolocuter is able to communicate through food, and can also translate written works like plays, poems and operas into their food. Fantanyeros is a Cibolocuter.


A Voresoph becomes smarter the more he eats. Daniel Migdalo is a Voresoph.

Peter Pilaf's power

This so far unnamed power lets the user control people through food. Peter Pilaf has this power.

Collected editions

The series has been collected into trade paperbacks:

  • Chew, Volume 1: Taster's Choice (collects Chew #1-5, 128 pages, November 2009, ISBN 1-60706-159-7)
  • Chew, Volume 2: International Flavor (collects Chew #6-10, 128 pages, April 2010, ISBN 1-60706-260-7)
  • Chew, Volume 3: Just Desserts (collects Chew #11-15, 128 pages, November 2010, ISBN 1-60706-335-2)
  • Chew, Volume 4: Flambé (collects Chew #16-20, September 2011, ISBN 978160706398851299)

There are also large hardcover edition collecting two subsequent trades paperbacks:

  • Chew Omnivore Edition, Volume 1 (collects Chew #1-10, 264 pages, August 2010, ISBN 1607062936)
  • Chew Omnivore Edition, Volume 11 (collects Chew #11-20, December 2011)


The first three issues of Chew have all sold out multiple printings with the first issue receiving four printings as well as being reprinted in black and white in The Walking Dead #63.[26][27] The first issue was so popular that it was called one of Image's most acclaimed titles, and was reprinted again in the first wave of the Image First line.[28]

Critical reception has been mostly positive. IGN gave the first issue a 9.5 out of 10 and the subsequent issues 9.0, 9.1 and 8.8 respectively.[citation needed]

Chew Vol. 1: Taster's Choice[29] and Chew Vol. 2: International Flavor[30] have both been on the New York Times Bestsellers List.

Chew ended up on several Best of 2009 lists, including IGN's Best Indie Series of 2009 (beating The Walking Dead and Bad Dog)[31] and MTV Splashpage's Best New Series of 2009.[32] Chew was also #4 on's Best 100 Comics of 2009 list.[33]

On July 23, 2010, Chew won the Eisner Award for Best New Series.[34] Chew also won two 2010 Harvey Awards (Best New Series and Best New Talent)[35] and was nominated for, but did not win, two 2010 Eagle Awards (Favourite New Comicbook and Favourite American Colour Comicbook).[36]

In other media

Television series

In July 2010 it was announced that production company Circle of Confusion, the same company that produces the Walking Dead television series, was planning to adapt Chew.[37] It was revealed in March 2011, that Showtime was developing it into a half-hour comedy series, based on a script by Terri Hughes Burton and Ron Milbauer.[38]

See also


  1. ^ John Layman Bites Back in "Chew", Comic Book Resources, April 23, 2009
  2. ^ Rob Guillory: The Art Of "Chew", Comic Book Resources, April 30, 2009
  3. ^ Chew On This With John Layman, Comic Book Resources
  4. ^ a b c d Chew #1
  5. ^ Chew #2
  6. ^ a b c Chew #5
  7. ^ a b c d Chew #7
  8. ^ a b Chew #8
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Chew #9
  10. ^ a b c Chew #10
  11. ^ a b c d e Chew #12
  12. ^ a b Chew #13
  13. ^ a b c d e Chew #14
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Chew #15
  15. ^ a b c d e f Chew #16
  16. ^ a b c d e Chew #17
  17. ^ Chew #18
  18. ^ a b c Chew #19
  19. ^ Chew #20
  20. ^ a b c Chew #21
  21. ^ a b c d e Chew #27
  22. ^ a b c Chew #6
  23. ^ a b c d e Chew #4
  24. ^ a b Chew #11
  25. ^ Chew #3
  26. ^ Stephen Schleicher (July 8, 2009). "Walking Dead/Chew flipbook lands you two comics in one". Major Spoilers. 
  27. ^ CBR News Team, Editor (August 15, 2009). "The First Three Issues Of "Chew" Sell Out And Will Be Reprinted In Time For The Fourth". 
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Graphic Books Best-Seller List: Casting About". The New York Times. January 15, 2010. 
  30. ^ "Graphic Books Best Sellers: Food for Thought". The New York Times. July 2, 2010. 
  31. ^ "Comics Best Indie Series 2009 - Chew". IGN. News Corporation. 
  32. ^ "BEST OF 2009: Comic Books, Webcomics And Graphic Novels". 2009-12-15. 
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (July 21, 2010). "Circle Of Confusion & Stephen Hopkins To Develop TV Series Based On Comic 'Chew'". Retrieved July 21, 2010. 
  38. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 24, 2011). "Showtime Developing Comedy Series Adaptation Of Comic 'Chew'". Retrieved March 24, 2011. 

External links

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