Food for Thought

Are Comics the Last Frontier in Food’s Complete Media Takeover?

From culinary queen to felon to ... comic-book star?
From culinary queen to felon to … comic-book star? Photo: Courtesy of Blue Water Productions

Just last week we marveled over the increasing appearance of foodie topics as comic-book fodder, and yesterday’s news that Martha Stewart will get her own comic seems to indicate that the winds of the comic-book Zeitgeist are indeed blowing food-ward. Or is it simply that the recent preponderance of graphic novels has ushered the art form into the mainstream at about the same time food has become a central medium of cultural conversation? Or some combination of these things? Let’s examine.

As we know, Dagwood’s towering sandwiches have graced funny pages for decades, and a few food-centered comic books, like Chew, have existed on the fringes for a while, but this seems to be the first moment when graphic storytelling and food storytelling have converged. Of course, it makes sense in many ways: There’s so much more food storytelling these days (countless new blogs, websites, books, and even a few print magazines) that it’s natural editors would look for original ways to convey narratives — and until now, comics have been a largely untapped one. At the same time, the idea of a story told in graphic fashion is a much more accepted one thanks to an explosion of zines, online comics, and graphic novels.

What’s more, the food world in general has experienced a tremendous amount of crossover across all manner of media. We’re told by multiple sources that food is the new rock, while movie stars like Gwyneth Paltrow are the new culinary stars, chefs play themselves on TV, musicians and actors own restaurants, and pop stars even wear edible clothing. In Grub Street’s experience interviewing celebrities, no one wants to talk about their love lives, but everyone’s thrilled to talk about food. And that’s a great thing. So, we say: Bring on the food comics, and also the food movies, soda-themed TV shows, memoirs, cookbooks, and barbecue-scented cologne. Though maybe Gwyneth should stick to what she’s good at — acting (sometimes) and making ridiculous remarks — instead of food-related pursuits, drunken or otherwise.

Are Comics the Last Frontier in Food’s Complete Media Takeover?