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‘Starve’ #1 features a culinary backdrop with a sharp political layer

‘Starve’ #1 features a culinary backdrop with a sharp political layer


Starve #1

Written by Brian Wood

Illustrated by Danijel Zezelj

Coloured by Dave Stewart

Lettering by Clayton Cowles and Steve Wands

Starve stands fairly freely amongst other comics that have culinary as a part of their stories. Chew does have the food industry as a major component to its backdrop and the standalone graphic novel Get Jiro proved that you could have a culinary aspect and make a fresh and exciting book. Yet, there aren’t many North American based comic books that have food involved. In Japanese manga and anime, the situation is much more different through the popularity of many titles like What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Oishinbo, Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma, and many more. It makes sense that Starve, especially through its artwork, has this manga-like appeal to it, fueled by a storyline that has a sharp, political edge to it; wouldn’t expect anything less from the brilliant Brian Wood.

Gavin Cruikshank was a one time popular and famous chef who had his own show called ‘Starve.’ Gavin now is found basking in the glory of the Southeast Asian lifestyle of taking each day as it comes and treating each day as his first and last. Or, as Gavin puts it, daily commitments to drinking copious amounts of soju, smoking weed, gambling on kickboxing matches and eating a variety of street vendor food. Life has become a lot simpler for him.

Gavin’s past returns to him in the form of Sheldon, a young representative of the TV network that ‘Starve’ was a part of. Sheldon is sent to ensure that Gavin must return to the U.S. to fulfill his contract obligation and complete eight more episodes of his show. As Gavin makes his way back home, he must face more than the just the changed format of his show, but also the stance his ex-wife and daughter have on Gavin’s return. At first glance, Gavin is fairly unlikable. He has the mouth of Spider Jerusalem and the party mentality of The Thin White Duke. But, upon examining his past, it appears that Gavin has some redeeming qualities that show he has more than a selfish reason to fulfill his contract obligations.

spread3Danijel Zezelj’s artwork is very unique that is in no way soft on the eyes. He captures the sheen of dirt and mugginess of the sketchy areas Gavin finds himself in Asia, showing the grittiness of the random underground areas. His sense of perspective is very interesting as well, reminiscent of the artwork of Taiyo Matsumoto. As characters have conversations, the frames focus closer on their faces, slowing down time and putting emphasis on their facial expressions; very akin to manga like Sunny and GoGoMonster.

Dave Stewart’s colours melt and fuse with the pencil and ink work, giving a heavy shadowing effect through poorly lit interiors or night scenes and somber yellows and oranges during the latter half where the focus shifts to the inside of the TV network and ‘Starve’ stage. There is a very unsettling feeling throughout that really causes a feeling that all is not as it appears.

The lettering of Clayton Cowles and Steve Wands guides the reader well, placing the narration and word balloons towards specific images like the knife in Gavin’s hand or even set ahead or beside characters initiating a forward motion.

The first issue of Starve presents a rather dark and twisted tale that has a cooking show as what looks to be the main background. Lets hope that the stark style of this comic can be thought of alongside the brilliantly stylish Hannibal, incorporating food in a unique way.