Comic Book Fever Strikes Chefs
Madison Papp / August 5th, 2013
Chef Chris Cosentino of Incanto and Boccalone in San Francisco has admired the mighty Marvel hero, Wolverine, since childhood. When C.B. Cebluski at Marvel reached out to the offal-loving chef about authoring Wolverine: In the Flesh, Cosentino “jumped at the chance.” While Japan has been spitting out chef and food-centric manga such as “Oishinbo” (Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki) and “Drops of God (Tadashi Agi) for years, the folks at Marvel claim that their inspiration for chef collaborations come from a different place: the linkages between the food and comic industries. Just last year Anthony Bourdain notably published Get Jiro! with Vertigo Comics and Amanda Cohen of New York City’s Dirt Candy published Dirt Candy: A Cookbook in a comic book style. Cosentino’s Wolverine: In the Flesh however is the latest foray into a medium where chefs and superheroes collide.
According to the folks at Marvel, “Fanboys and foodies are very much alike. There are similar mentalities to both kinds of fandom.” Foodies collect culinary experiences—often displayed in digital pictures—oozing with the same glory and excitement found in the eyes of fanboys (geek culture aficionados) who collect comic books. Adventures in the world of food—similar to the world of comic books—allow culinary connoisseurs to take part in singular and special encounters. Comic book collectors find their equivalent hidden in the crisp pages of rare editions or at Comic Con, where fanboys can mingle with industry superstars in the flesh. This shared excitement of the food and comic book industries is “all about passion and love,” says Cosentino.
From the first draft to the final copies that now line store shelves, the “passion and love” Cosentino speaks of is quite evident in Wolverine: In the Flesh. Creating the comic book “was a really fun process that took about a year from start to finish,” says Cosentino. Beyond the character dialogue, Cosentino infuses the comic with some sturdy San Francisco personality: the food truck scene, the annual DFL Cross-Dress Cyclocross race (think world-class dirt-biking meets cross-dressing), fresh offal—sliced and cooked—straight from the Incanto kitchen, and some classic city scenery. He even had photos of Incanto taken and sent straight to Marvel for storyline and graphic accuracy.
When it comes to the seemingly natural pairings of food and comic books, it all boils down to the underlying narrative. C.B. Cebluski of Marvel says, “It’s about telling stories, really, either through comics or through food. Our forms of delivery may be different, but in the end, our goal is to entertain our audiences.”