Interview: Rob Guillory of Chew
Rob Guillory is the artist behind Chew, the witty, gory, awesome-y comic that has become a favorite of mine and hordes of others over the past few years. Written by John Layman, Chew takes place in an alternate reality wherein food regulation has evolved to violent extremes. I talked with Guillory about the process behind making Chew come to life, sneaking in pop culture critiques and styling protagonist/cannibal Tony Chu. —Angelo
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.