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WonderCon 2013: Despair with Layman! Panel Coverage


Chew 29If by “despair” they meant “laugh your a– off,” then the title of this panel is completely accurate. John Layman is perhaps best known for his work on the Image series Chew, but he’s also done a lot of other work ranging from lettering and editing to writing other books like Detective Comics and Mars Attacks.

During this Q&A session, Layman told the story of his publishing life: how he first became involved with Wildstorm, editing books like The Authority and Danger Girl, and after a rough ending to that relationship, began freelancing in the world of video games writing Metroid Prime, the “s–t talking dialogue” for the World Series of Poker, American Choppers, and many more. However, Layman’s heart has always belonged to comics and to the idea of a cannibal cop in a world forever changed by bird flu. Chew was shopped around for a while, being rejected by Vertigo, IDW, and other publishers before finally landing at Image, where it became an instant success.

A highlight of Layman’s work history for me was his work on Scarface for IDW, which is where Layman reports he “found his voice in comics.” During a coffee binge, Layman also wrote a comic called Puffed, which follows a man stuck in a dragon suit he can’t take off without assistance and dropped into the “hood” and has to find his way out. Layman also once worked for several months on a Marvel MMO for Cryptic alongside Brian Michael Bendis before it was canceled!

Layman is a likeable and casual guy, being most comfortable when he can drop a few F-bombs and talk to the crowd like he’s talking to a group of his friends. He’s straightforward about what he loves and what he hates. That’s not to say Layman isn’t considerate of others; he was great with the crowd, offering merchandise to those who asked questions and even joking around with them. One interesting fact I learned about Layman is he was an editor before he was a writer. Once asked about how this facet has affected him as a writer, Layman said he believes it has made him easier to work with, since he understands why changes sometimes have to be made and is considerate of printing deadlines. In addition, being an editor gave him opportunities to learn how to be a letterer and get his start scripting.

Layman dropped some tantalizing details for upcoming issues of Chew. Issue #34 will be incredibly action packed and introduce close to a dozen new food-based powers, while Issue #36 will be a flashback issue that could really be Chew #28.5 and will introduce Tony, Toni, and Chow’s other sibling, Sage. Reportedly, all of the Chu siblings have a food-based power, which means not just that Sage will have a power but that Chow has one he’s been hiding! That’s not all, more books starring everyone’s favorite killer rooster, Poyo, are in the works including Deep Space Poyo, Son of Poyo, and possibly a Conan-esque Poyo book. Layman also stated that Chew has been selling well digitally, comprising now a third of their sales and that larger hardcover collection of Chew are planned, covering twenty issues at once called the Smorgasbord editions.

Showtime has officially turned down the opportunity to write a Chew TV series after nine months of negotiations. There is still a chance we’ll see a Chew live-action show, as the same director and the scripts are talking to other networks. And, if all else fails, Layman promises that when Chew wraps up after Issue #60, if there isn’t a television series then, he and artist Rob Guillory will adapt Chew to animation, though Layman hopes that doesn’t come to pass, because “I don’t want to mail s–t.”

My quick and dirty regurgitation of this information doesn’t do the panel justice. Layman is as fun to listen to as his work is to read, and now that I know some more of the behind the scenes, I can’t wait to go back and reread my copies of Chew!



Kristine Chester, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor


Favorite Comic Book SeriesAtomic Robo Favorite D&D Class:  Wizard Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  Cookies N' Cream


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