Food is everywhere and it’s become our newest pop culture obsession on TV right next to celebrity gossip. It has its own network and reality show genre. It’s always making the news whether its good or bad. Thanks to Brian Wood and his team at Image Comics, food has now become the subject of the comic book series Starve. Starve is about a chef named Gavin Cruikshank who lives in a dystopian society where the culinary arts have become a sporting event for the rich while the poor are left to fend for themselves. I am a fan of Brian Wood and his work, especially Starve and his Dark Horse Comics series Rebels. I got in touch with Brian via e-mail to learn more about Starve and what readers can expect from Starve #6.
Joe Grodensky: Brian, you’ve referenced Iron Chef and Anthony Bourdain for Starve. It is a very wild concept. What served as the initial inspiration for the series?
Brian Wood: Those two things – Iron Chef and Bourdain’s writings – as well as the food TV culture generally, of which I am a fan. I’m also aware of what is a growing political aspect to food, ranging from global climate change on one end of the spectrum to food scarcity in inner city neighborhoods on the other. I wanted to be able to comment on that, and have a lot of fun in the process getting into the nitty-gritty of celebrity and food prep.
It’s been a few years in the making, and as cliché as it may sound, some ideas need some years to fully bake and be ready to be written. My initial pitch for Starve dates back to 2009. Only now, in 2015, did all the stars align for us to make it.
JG: Issue #1 of Starve debuted in May 2015 and here we are, in the beginning of 2016, getting ready for issue #6. What are your thoughts on the success of the series and the fan base driving that success? Especially considering the difference in its release schedule as opposed to other titles you’ve worked on, such as DHC’s Rebels.
BW: It’s actually a very similar release schedule to Rebels, they just have a few different details. Starve is a monthly book, albeit with that Image model way of doing things where you take a short break from the monthlies to release the trade. But Starve has never missed a ship date, and it won’t. Rebels is also a monthly book, and we’ll be taking a break now for the trade, and come back again later in 2016.
As far as its success, I had a LOT of conversations with people regarding Starve leading up to its release, and to say that people struggled to ‘get it’ is an understatement. It sounds weird, I know that, and I knew that probably I would just have to suck it up until the book was actually out, and people could see it and understand it. And people did – its hands down the highest-rated book in my 20-year career, even if the sales are slow to catch up. But honestly at this point in life, I care far less about sales. It’s a profitable book and we can keep going, that’s what matters.
I’m immensely proud of it, my writing and the art and the colors. It’s an incredibly smooth running machine. Danijel and Dave are a dream team.
JG: Brian, I have also enjoyed Rebels. What inspired you to start a historically-based comic book? It’s so interesting to read Starve and Rebels as they’re both dealing with such different subject matter.
BW: I did Northlanders from 2008-2012, my viking book over at Vertigo, which was a very rewarding project for me, and that’s honestly the biggest reason I created Rebels – I wanted to write a book like that again. I like doing research, I like finding historical parallels to modern day, and I’ve always found my best ideas are inspired, in some way, from history. DMZ, for example, was born out of books I read about the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and the Bosnian war. That’s my secret trick – steal ideas from history.
And yeah, Starve and Rebels are different, but that’s the point of it all for me, to keep myself interested and do different things and challenge myself. I think back to when I was writing, simultaneously, DMZ and Northlanders and Demo, all very different. Then, Conan the Barbarian, Star Wars, and The Massive. Keeps the brain engaged.
JG: Would you be able to survive in the world of Starve? And, which dish do you feel would best describe the taste/tone of Starve issue #6?
BW: Starve #6 – fried chicken. You’ll see why.
And I would thrive in the world of Starve, I think. I have a peculiar relationship with food…I love it, but I am detail-oriented in how I approach it. As long as I can get protein and fats, I’m happy.
JG: It was a pleasure speaking to you. Congratulations on the success of Starve and as a fan myself, I can’t wait to see this “second season” for the series. I’d like to conclude by asking what could fans expect from Starve issue #6 and for those that may not have read your series, why should they choose to pick this title up?
BW: One thing I’m particularly proud of with Starve…well, two things, is that I never ever ever write anything funny, but I think Starve is funny, I think I manage to pull that off. Also, for all the talk these days of creator ownership and the freedom for the people to make whatever book they want, Starve really goes into uncharted territory. So many people’s ideas of creator-owned is to just do their versions of already popular ideas, we created something so weird that retailers didn’t know how to order it! I’m proud of that, for better or for worse.
JG: Thank you again for speaking with me on behalf of What’cha Reading.
*What’cha Reading and Joe would like to thank Brian Wood for his time. And Briah Skelly of Image for coordinating and making this possible.
Starve issue #6 comes out February 17.
STARVE FANS HUNGRY FOR MORE?
The critically-acclaimed series dishes out second season
Writer Brian Wood (Star Wars, DMZ, The Massive), artist Danijel Zezelj (Northlanders, Loveless), and colorist Dave Stewart (THE WALKING DEAD, Star Wars) will launch a new story arc in their ongoing pop-culture satire series STARVE this February.
Previously in STARVE, Chef Gavin Cruikshank, back from self-imposed exile, found his little foodie television program “Starve” transformed into a gonzo arena sport where chefs slice and dice rare and endangered species for their super-rich patrons. With his personal life as much a shambles as his professional career, Chef Cruikshank worked to repair his relationship with his grown daughter while working to dismantle the monstrosity that Starve had become.
In STARVE #6, Cruikshank shifts his focus, addressing real world themes of food scarcity and class warfare, while taking real steps to getting his personal life back on track.
“In this second ‘season’ of Starve, Chef Gavin Cruikshank is recovering from the trauma of the first season and wondering why, since he’s so successful at reclaiming his spot as a top chef, his personal life such a shambles. But IS he actually successful at rehabilitating his TV show, or is he just being co-opted all over again?” said Wood. “So in this arc he goes from the soundstage to the streets, bringing his ideas of food revolution directly to the people most affected by poverty and food scarcity. It’s a socio-political angle on food that we haven’t touched on yet in the series. Gavin will never lose his caustic sense of humor, but it’s time he gets real. Really real.”
STARVE #6 (Diamond code: DEC150553) hits stores Wednesday, February 17th.