What made you decide to write a graphic novel? Were you always a fan of the medium and had this story on your mind for a while?
Anthony Bourdain: I've been a comics fan since childhood--when I was a serious collector of early Marvels (1960s, MAD, horror comics--later began collecting EC's, a few Golden Age, and late 60's West Coast Undergrounds). An early ambition was to be the next R. Crumb. Sadly, my illustration skills--while decent--were not up to anywhere near that standard. When Joel Rose brought the idea back up after an earlier discussion, I thought, "What red blooded American boy in his mid fifties wouldn't do a graphic novel if given the chance? Let's try! As long as we can do it right." The fact that Vertigo, very early on, was supportive of the kind of high quality art we were looking for made all the difference.
How have your travels across the world informed this story? Did you draw inspiration from anything specific?
AB: Well, I clearly love Japan--and am obsessed with hyper-fetishistic, uncompromising old school style sushi, and due to my travels, have been lucky enough to spend a lot of time there. But the book reflects a lot of my food obsessions (funky classic brasserie/bistro) and prejudices. Travel changes you. It exposes you to things. My love of street food is certainly a product of my travels.
Food culture as a whole has been a bit of a phenomenon in the media over the last few years, but not so much in comics. Was that part of your motivation for wanting to create Get Jiro?
AB: I think the explosion of interest in chefs and restaurants is certainly easy fodder for satire. But my motivation was really nothing more than to help tell a story that would be fun, extremely bloody, beautifully illustrated--and insanely detailed as to the specifics of cooking and eating. I'm a big fan of classic Japanese cinema, Hammett's Red Harvest, spaghetti westerns and food--so these were obvious elements.
Your co-writer, Joel Rose, and artist Langdon Foss have both done comic work in the past. What was it like working with them, and how did their experience with creating comics help shape the book?
AB: Joel is the very first guy in the world to have ever published me--back when he ran the legendary Lower East Side literary magazine, Between C and D. He's a friend, whose books I admire enormously, who's been supportive--an even instrumental--in my career since the beginning, for over two decades. It surely helped that he also worked on some of the most influential graphic novels of the last decades and that he had previous relationships with Vertigo. Most importantly, he knows how to tell a story. I care less about that. I'm all about dialogue and atmospherics. I think we complement each other's work nicely. I hope so.
"What's an ex-yakuza enforcer turned sushi chef to do, ask culinary expert and author Bourdain (Medium Raw) and co-writer Joel Rose (La Pacifica) in this boisterous lampooning of food culture, a pet project for Bourdain, who seems to revel in the unrestrained narrative allowed in a comic book. Their answer will be enjoyable to anyone versed in samurai revenge stories or the films of Sam Peckinpah.... The book's saving grace is the wonderfully clean and detailed art by an all-star team of artists led by illustrator Foss, whose meticulously researched and composed visuals mirror Jiro's precision with a knife and produce equally appetizing results."—Publishers Weekly
"Bourdain...promised 'an ultra-violent slaughter-fest over culinary arcane,' and he delivers pretty much exactly that....Bourdain let's his foodie id run wild, extolling the elegant simplicity of a peasant dish like pot-au-feu here and caving in skulls with sauté pans there. Foss' stubby, dough-faced figures walk a fine line between goofy and thuggish, and fall apart with great ickiness when dismembered. Equal parts blunt culinary opinion-mongering and satiric takedown of the very same chef-worship culture Bourdain helped create, this amusing diversion coasts comfortably in the wake of the standard bearer of gore-soaked foodie comics..."—Booklist