A Look At Anthony Bourdain's Love For Comic Books

Everyone knows Anthony Bourdain the celebrated food writer, and many also know the crime writer he intended to be before that. However, few know about the comic writer Bourdain wanted to be. "I wanted very badly to draw comic books for a lot of my childhood and early adolescence," Bourdain told CNN when discussing the background for his 2012 co-written graphic novel "Get Jiro!"

According to Karen Berger, creator of Dark Horse Comics Berger Books, there's a reason this career was cut short; she explained to Vulture that Bourdain's comics were rejected by the underground publisher Denis Kitchen in the '70s, and again by his future collaborate Joel Rose in the '80s. The latter said, "Hey, the art sucks but the writing is pretty good." After that, Bourdain stuck with writing until he got the chance to write his own graphic novel. Bourdain being Bourdain, his interest in comics was fueled by the psychedelic themes comic artists were developing in the '60s and "the dark, violent, antisocial stuff from the '50s." Or, to pull from another illuminating preference he shared with CNN, "I liked early Marvel, when Spider-Man was still neurotic and Steve Ditko was still doing him."

The collection Bourdain developed during this period, however, suffered from the financial drain of his drug addiction in the '80s (via Eater). So, in a sense, becoming an international celebrity was a roundabout way for Bourdain to finally achieve his boyhood dream.

Bourdain the comic writer

Bourdain's comic book career spanned three books: "Get Jiro!," "Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi," and "Hungry Ghosts." Through all of them, the thread of Bourdain's love of Japan runs.

Both of the Jiro books cover the well-trodden Bourdain territory of culinary crime stories. Inverse describes "Get Jiro!" as a story about a stranger entering a war-torn town, where the eponymous sushi chef Jiro fights on both sides of a turf war between fusion chefs and vegans. The next one, "Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi," serves as a prequel which, in CBR's telling, covers Jiro distancing himself from his crime lord father to become a sushi chef.

In one respect these two stories are even more interesting than Bourdain's thrillers. As Inverse notes and Bourdain explicitly stated in an interview with Men's Journal, the books bristle against the colonial disrespect of local foods. A customer abusing wasabi with soy sauce "was the jumping off point," Bourdain explained. "Wouldn't it be nice if we lived in a world where disrespecting good sushi could get you killed and no one would care?" Finally, Bourdain's final book, "Hungry Ghosts," is a collection of food-based ghost stories (via Eater).

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