From one pm to five pm this Sunday, John Layman will be signing books at Comics Dungeon in Wallingford. Here's why you should care:
Remember when Vertigo Comics was publishing an excellent string of serialized novels? On the heels of Sandman, they had Transmetropolitan, Preacher, Y the Last Man, and 100 Bullets. In the time since, they've published some interesting stuff (I, Zombie; DMZ; American Vampire) but the new material doesn't have the same intensity as the golden age of Vertigo. Something's missing.
John Layman's comic book Chew (drawn by Rob Guillory) feels like the logical heir to those great experiments in serialized comics storytelling. It's based on a premise that could easily become a cheesy USA Network supernatural crime series—Detective Tony Chu can learn everything there is to know about the history of an object by eating it—but Layman is building a bigger story behind the series. To date, it involves vampires, spies, and what seems to be alien plant life, along with a mysterious conspiracy to outlaw chicken. He's taken a gimmicky premise and applied a novelistic scope and ambition to the whole thing. He continues to riff on the theme of taste, and flavor, and our relationship to food in interesting ways. If Layman can continue to juggle all these elements and gradually bring the series to a satisfying close, it will belong on the same shelf as those Vertigo classics.
The third volume of Chew has just been released. Layman will sign that. There are two other collected volumes of Chew. Layman will sign those, too. For the impatient, Chew continues as a monthly comic book series. Layman will sign everything. If you have issues, Layman will sign them. He's doing this signing at Comics Dungeon because, back when he was a Seattleite it was his regular comic shop, so he'll be comfortable and happy and ready to talk it up with you. You should drop in.