11 April 2011

The Chew: Taster's Choice Review...

I really enjoyed this comic / graphic novel. I know that I am supposed to be reading Chew: Taster's Choice (Volume 1) as a potential text for my more senior students. However, it really is a collection of comics bound into a book. Nevertheless, I am totally committed to the idea that the genre is one that can be a successful addition to the units of work that I have been teaching. In any event, I sat down and read the whole thing in one sitting. It was a lot of fun.

Using Chew as a text has some potential pitfalls that I am going to have to address with both my Head Teacher and the Principal at some point. The language is sometimes at the outer edge of what might be acceptable. Yet, the reality is that I just taught a novel to my Year 10 cohort that had plenty of English's finest swear words. So, I am confident that I can get around that one.

However, a more pressing issue might be the basic premise of the comics themselves. The series follows the career of a Philadelphia police officer, Tony Chu. Chu has an interesting gift, he is "cibopathic". If you are wondering what that is, then wonder no more. A cibopath has the ability to extract the memories and histories of whatever they eat. Yes, whatever they eat. In a funny twist of fate, the only thing that Chu can eat and not have the instant "life-long history lesson" is beets.

So, here's the thing, I am wondering how my principal is going to go with the idea of teaching a graphic novel where the hero is a fella who has a habit of dining on all manner of things, including suspects, in order to find the truth. I am not at all worried about the Head Teacher, it was the Head Teacher who gave me Chew and asked me to have a read of it and see what I thought as a potential text.

Tony Chu is an interesting character, there is much conflict about him and within him. Simply, there is much to study and work with. However, the character that I found myself most drawn to was Special Agent Mason Savoy. Savoy is also cibopathic and is the mentor figure to Chu at the start. There are only three known cibopaths in the world of Chew and the fact that two of them are working together seems destined to give rise to conflict that allows us, the reader, to explore the basic tenets of good and evil.

Aside from Chu's and Savoy's abilities, the other over-arching theme of the series is a global disaster in the form of avian influenza (bird flu) that kills some 23 million Americans and more than 119 million worldwide. The dire predictions at the time suggested such an occurrence was possible. So, it is fun to read about the consequences in this form.

John Layman tells a great story and Rob Guillory's artwork is amazing. Even if I do not teach Chew, I am committed to teaching graphic novels this year, but truth be told I will be arguing for Chew to get the nod. In the end though, no matter what the decision is, I am off to Dymocks tomorrow to see if I can find anymore in the series. I am hooked, and looking forward to what happens next in this storm of a post-avian flu apocalyptic world.