What is your process like working with writer John Layman? Does the art or story take shape first?
John hits me with a full script first. His scripts are detailed enough to give me a feel for what he's envisioning, but loose enough to really let me experiment and put my own stamp on it. From there, I pencil, ink and color it (with my color assistant Taylor Wells). Then Layman letters it, and Image Comics shoots it to the printers. A standard issue takes about 5 weeks from start to finish.
I ask because I was wondering: there are tons of pop-culture references littered throughout Chew — things like TPS reports (from Office Space) and Paula Deen posters — do these things come from you or John or both?
I do about 90% of them. I'm the bigger pop culture fan of the two of us, so I just throw them in as fun little extra content. They're not crucial to the story, but they're fun bonuses for attentive readers.
Chew obviously deals a lot with modern food culture, processing, celebrity chefs — was this an area of interest to you before working on the comic?
Nope! I have a love/hate relationship with food, so I would've never come up with a food-centric comic. Layman loves food far more than I do.
If the FDA was really a militarized organization in 2013, who would they be busting?
I wish they'd bust the guy that thought serving a Lobster Sub at Quizno's was a good idea. He's a sick man.
Does Tony have a particular style? Do use any references for how Tony dresses?
Tony is a complete square, so when he's not in basic black suits, he's usually in muted colors. Because of his generally grim demeanor, I view him as sort of a former-Goth, so I always put him in drab unexciting clothes.
Your illustrations have a bit of the frenetic energy of a fashion sketch and details that make me think you're someone that pays attention to clothing. Is that just me projecting or do you have an interest in fashion?
I didn't have any interest in fashion... until I met my wife, who's big on fashion. So in the nearly ten years we've been together, I've developed a real appreciation for well-made clothing and accessories. My latest acquisition is a really sturdy bag from Chrome that is just friggin' EPIC.