Co-written with Bourdain by TV writer and novelist Joel Rose (“Kojak,” “La Pacifica,” “Kill the Poor” and “Kill Kill Faster Faster”), and featuring art by Langdon Foss and Jose Villarubia, “Get Jiro” takes readers to the near future where various factors have led to the master chefs of major restaurants ruling over people like crime lords, keeping local restaurants under their heels and warring with each other through secret assassinations. In the city of Los Angeles, a simple chef named Jiro is known for his great skill, and two warring factions want him under their control. What follows is a high action adventure that combines an old style samurai story with gangster films and spaghetti westerns.
At the Les Halles Downtown restaurant, Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose spoke with CBR News about their new endeavor, the influences of classic American Westerns on the adventures of Asian chef Jiro, writing a graphic novel for food nerds and the potential for future stories set in the same world.
CBR News: How long have you known each other? You obviously work well together.
Joel Rose: Oh, we’ve known each other for years. I was doing [a literary magazine] called “Between C and D” and [Bourdain] wrote to me one day. So we got to know each other, and for years we talked about working together on something one day.
When you talked about collaborating, was a creating a graphic novel always part of the idea for the kind of story you wanted to tell?
Anthony Bourdain: We brought up this basic idea a few times, something that would involve food and the art behind it but would also be like Kurosawa”s “Yojimbo.” And throw in some great Western movie influence.
I definitely found myself thinking of “A Fistful of Dollars” as I read the story.
Bourdain: Great! Yeah, it’s exactly that kind of world. “A Fistful of Dollars,” “A Few Dollars More,” “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” No one’s messing around, here. You threaten to kick someone’s ass and he goes ahead and takes your arm and he does it in a way that people talk about it with respect.
Rose: And you let loose with the violence and the language. No one’s holding back here, just go nuts. Langdon’s art was so great for that, to see what he really could do. Beautiful stuff. I’d describe a scene I was having trouble picturing and he’d e-mail me a sketch 15 minutes later that just made me go, “Yes, perfect. That’s it.”
The art really is great. I actually found myself getting hungry during the story — the food preparation certainly looks authentic rather than characters generically slicing vegetables and throwing them onto a plate.
Bourdain: This is definitely a book for food nerds, too. There wasn’t just research into food preparation with photo references, there was research into historical practices and ingredients that aren’t really well known anymore.
And even though this is basically Los Angeles, it’s more the idea of the city rather than a specific version of it. You’ve traveled a lot, obviously. Is there a city or place you’ve visited where you weren’t sure you were able to really tap into the local culture?
Bourdain: I have a hard time connecting with Philadelphia. It’s a very unique city and I just haven’t clicked right with it yet. I’ve talked with friends who’ve been there and they agree, it just has its own identity that can be pretty strange.
What’s next for Jiro? Is there the possibility of a sequel?
Rose: Sure, we could do a sequel. This one was a lot of fun and we really like working together. It’s been a great team.
Bourdain: I’d definitely like to do the next story in New York. See what that city’s become in this future.”
“Get Jiro” by Anthony Bourdain, Joel Rose Langdon Foss and Jose Villarubia goes on sale July 4.