From what you read by the creators of this book, they never thought their comic book would be popular at all. It has no superheroes and has a bizzare premise, especially for a detective story. But only after a couple months, demand for the first issue was so high, it is on its fourth printing.
Chew is about a detective named Tony Chu who is a cibopathic. What that means is he is able to sense everything that the food has undergone prior to his eating it. And he lives in a world where the US Government has outlawed the possession, transportation and consumption of chicken due to concerns about the bird flu. The first issue starts where Tony and his partner are undercover to bust chicken speakeasy, and while tasting the soup Tony senses the memories of a cook (who accidentally cut his finger while preparing the meal) who happens to be a serial killer. He knows the killer/cooks name, and the names and location of his victims. By the end of the first issue, Tony has been fired from the local police department and hired by the FDA, which is now a law enforcement agency protecting America from chicken.
If you think of comic books like television shows, there are only a handful of types on at a time. You can watch a crime show, a doctor show, or a reality show. There isn't too much else on. But occasionally something new comes on that takes people by surprise. Chew is like that. Who would of thought that a detective comic where the main character has to eat a part of the victim and protect us from chicken would be such a hit. But I think that it's so different comic readers flocked to it.
Looking at this comic at face value, it's really grotesque. Cannibalism can be funny is done right. And with the way John Layman writes the story, you can tell he's having a ball pushing the limits of good taste. Also the art by Rob Guillory is the most rubbery I've seen in a long time. Like Layman, you can see he's having a ball drawing this book with his figures bending a contorting and his hyper use of foreshortening.
I'm waiting for this book to come out in a trade so I can get it for the library. There is some harsh language, but nothing teens haven't read before. So other than the eating of various body parts, every public library should think about getting this for their collection.