Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Brian Woods
Artist: Danijel Zezelj / Dave Stewart
Release Date: 8th July, 2015
I’m really intrigued by Starve; it’s literally a mash-up of The Running Man and a cook show like Iron Chef. It sounds pretty ludicrous, but as a comic it really works well. For those that don’t know here is the basic premise of the story.
Gavin Cruikshank created a successful TV show called Starve based around cooking, and made millions out of it. He then dropped off the face of the Earth – running away to Asia after coming out to his wife, and leaving his unhappy life (and young daughter) behind to find himself. For a few years he lives a life of food, drink and drugs and is happy – blissfully unaware the world is crumbling around him. The network that runs his show crashes, and in a bid to save itself pulls Gavin back to do one more season of Starve, yanks him back into a world much different from the one he left. Opulence is now the definition of the entitled. The gulf between rich and poor is astounding, and the rich pay to believe that the world hasn’t gone the way of the dodo.
Gavin’s own show has been bastardised into a corrupt symbol of how this new civilisation works, where celebrity chefs cook meals for the rich that the poor could never have, the twist of the knife comes when they use ingredients available to everybody – or, ingredients no-one can get. Gavin is forced to become a contestant in his own show, the showrunner (his old partner) hates him, his wife had him legally declared dead, and he isn’t allowed access to his grown up daughter. The one thing he has and loves – cooking – is now a perversion of what it was, but he has no choice but to participate as he has no money, is under contract, and the network will only pay him on completion of the season.
Issue two has Gavin through to the finals of Starve, and Roman (the showrunner) is plotting something special. He tasks the contestants with sourcing a Bluefin Tuna (a fish practically extinct) and preparing it for the judges. In order to complete the challenge we meet a character from Gavin’s past that shares his love for food, and his relationship with his new friend and network contact Sheldon is developed. As they say, the show must go on, so Gavin will do it on his own terms while putting one over on Roman. Brian Wood actually works in quite a large moral question into the narrative of the issue that is an integral part of this story, but it seems that he’s also asking you – the reader – to think about it, and he crafts the question in a way that the plot completely emphasises the point. It’s really quite clever.
Woods is developing an excellent story, I haven’t had this level of interest in his work since the first issue of DMZ. The lines and colours of Zezelj and Stewart are just brilliant. The whole production is very stylised: Zezelj’s inks are thick and black, and it’s drawn in such a manner that the shadows define the shapes, rather than some generic ink outlining. It’s almost mosaic-like, making the image seem solid and heavy, and very much there for you to absorb. This coupled with Stewarts muted colours gives the world and almost dirty feel adding a dystopian ambiance to the page. The colours are there, but are so desaturated that they almost disappear into the page as much as the lines leap out. It’s a curious juxtaposition that really works, all tied together by Wood’s words. There is a real sense of intelligence in the execution of this comic, it feels and reads different somehow. I genuinely like this. A lot.
Who loves you, and who do you love?
The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.