Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef perhaps best known for his travel and food shows No Reservations and Parts Unknown has joined forces once again with Joel Rose, his collaborator on New York Times Bestseller Get Jiro! to create another work of fiction closely aligned both with Bourdain’s culinary background and his international experiences.
Hungry Ghosts is based on the Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai, or 100 Candles, a samurai test of courage in Japan’s Edo period. In Bourdain and Rose’s story, a team of celebrity chefs, having just prepared a meal for a mysterious Russian who won their service in a charity auction, are invited to participate in this test along with the dinner guests. The first issue contains two stories, one about Gashadokuro, or the ghosts of people who died of starvation, and a story about a woman rescued by pirates an expected to do unspeakable things to repay them.
It’s hard to mess up a collection of ghost stories, but having a good narrative to tie them all together can be the difference between a classic and something forgettable. At the very least, the nameless chefs have distinct looks and personalities despite having almost zero time for the reader to become familiar with them, and we have established that the strange host may have some secret motives.
Artwork in this issue is done by Alberto Ponticelli and Vanesa Del Rey. Everything looks wonderfully spooky, and one thing they both do exceedingly well is the design of their ghosts. I love Ponticelli’s giant skeleton representing the Gashadokuro and Del Rey’s bizarrely beautiful crustacean/mermaid monster at the end of the pirate story.
Definitely check out the first issue of Hungry Ghosts and be ready for issue #2… which doesn’t come out until February 28! That’s the scariest thing of all!