We’ve told you about delicious graphic novels that feature food as main characters. Some opt for nonfiction narratives about the preparation of food; others take current trends in cooking and dining and extrapolate them to gloriously satirical ends. All of them feature compelling blends of words, images, and food. Here are five more to fill your visual cortex with visions of candied plums and steak.
Bryan O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series of graphic novels occasionally paused for the characters to wax ecstatic about food, so it’s probably not a shock that his followup, the standalone work Seconds delved even more fully into the world of food.
The book’s protagonist, Katie, is the chef behind one acclaimed restaurant, with plans to open a second. Things are complicated by her discovery of a way to rewrite the recent past; things do not go according to plan. O’Malley neatly captures the dynamics of a kitchen staff here, even as the graphic novel’s time-twisting plot causes an abundance of chaos.
Lucy Knisley’s comics feature an impressive grasp of place and milieu — whether in one of her books that focuses on travel, or in her exploration of her own love of food. French Milk features everything from detailed recipes for some notable dishes in Knisley’s life to neatly-drawn autobiographical vignettes. It’s an appealing way of showing the numerous ways that food and everyday life can overlap.
Hot Dog Taste Test
Lisa Hanawalt’s comics are frequently irreverent, sometimes featuring bizarre characters in surreal settings. Even if you’re not familiar with her name, you may well know her work: she’s responsible for the character designs for the animated series BoJack Horseman.
In this collection of her work, she frequently ventures into satirical takes on food culture, including absurdist musings on breakfast and a terrifying image of a cooked deep-sea anglerfish as the centerpiece of a meal. There are also illustrated forays into food writing found here, including a guide to notable food vendors in Flushing, Queens, and an account of a day spent with chef Wylie Dufrense of wd~50.
Hanawalt’s capable of both mocking the more outlandish trends in the world of food and composing a sincere ode to what she likes, including a lovingly rendered guide to Argentinean cuisine.
Project X – Nissin Cup Noodle
This fascinating story details the genesis of the beloved, magical meal of late-night study sessions everywhere. Nissin founder Momofuku Andoh sought to create a noodle with a flavor frozen into flash-fried perfection, with the perfect packaging. Working with a team of product developers and scientists, Andoh created the perfect waterproof container. It was so popular that it eventually crossed the ocean to the West, and the rest is history.
Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi
Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi is the prequel to Get Jiro, when Jiro is still a young novice learning the ways of fish and the knife. With a yakuza father, he is unsure as to whether he should pick up the knife of a mobster or a sushi master. Jiro is a young man learning his craft and at this point, he could take either path.
This bloody tale adds an irreverent sense of humor and a futuristic vision of foodie culture, all with a flavor only Anthony Bourdain can cook up. Co-written by Joel Rose (The Blackest Bird) with art by Alé Garza (Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day) and José Villarrubia (Promethea, BATMAN: YEAR 100).
This novel, like its predecessor, takes a satirical approach to the culture of food, where a life in the mob might not be so different from a life in restaurants. In an interview in 2015, Bourdain described the initial idea as, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a world where disrespecting good sushi could get you killed and no one would care?” And here, Bourdain and his collaborators blend bizarre violence with abundant respect for chefs’ dedication to their craft.
Main photo by Capture Queen CC BY
Tobias Carroll frequently writes about subjects culinary and cultural for a host of publications. He is also the author of a collection of short stories, TRANSITORY, due to be published in August 2016.