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Beheading for a comic book store near you...
July 17th, 2012 12:34AM

Get Jiro!, Anthony Bourdain’s first graphic novel, wasn’t his first attempt. He actually pitched a comic idea to a literary magazine called Between C and D, which co-writer Joel Rose edited, in 1980, he told attendees at a San Diego Comic-Con panel on Friday.

“It was my dream to be a comic artist,” said Bourdain, who actually got sidetracked with books, including Kitchen Confidential, and TV series, including the soon-ending Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations on the Travel Channel and a writing gig on HBO’s Treme. “They’re both visual mediums,” he said, noting that Get Jiro! had a script much like that of a film.

Rose, who has shared Thanksgivings with the Bourdains, has heard ideas from Bourdain for a while, and eventually said, “Let’s do it!”

“He would send me the most vivid scenes--one after another after the other,” Rose said.

Jiro, the title character, is a Los Angeles sushi chef in a culinarily concerned near-future that involves foodie gangs and at least one sword beheading. The story may be fanciful--at least if your fancies are rather, um, violent--but the foodie detail is accurate.

“I would like to point out that a lot of my friends are sushi chefs,” Bourdain said, thanking artist Langdon Foss for his many questions. Panel attendees saw quite a bit of Foss’ graphic images, and sounded impressed with good reason.

“You need artwork and color that’s going to make the bulk of the argument for you,” Bourdain said. Bourdain especially credits Foss with the action scenes, which Foss took from vague instructions in the script.

Of course, Bourdain has opinions, and they’re what fans want to hear. They began with his objections to the ban on foie gras in California, which he described as an issue that brought the prospect of culinary violence. They continued, with fan questions, into new territories, including the unfamiliar--to Bourdain--land of … peanut butter. Bourdain, it turns out, doesn’t eat the stuff, but notes his wife prefers smooth peanut butter.

Con goers also learned that Bourdain, if doing No Reservations in San Diego, would detour to Baja to sample its lively foodie scene. Of course, there’s a hint of sadness with which Bourdain recommends favorite places. “I kill the thing I love,” he said, noting the crowds that head to his favorites.

Getting back on topic, Bourdain noted that he has more ideas for graphic novels, including one involving Mexican restaurants.

“Late in life to have the opportunity to be part of one--for me, this was awesome and just a little scary,” Bourdain said.

Vertigo editor Karen Berger said she isn’t seeking out the next great chef who’d like to whip up a comic book, since she wouldn’t want the DC label to get pigeonholed, but she isn’t saying never.

“There’s a real undercurrent of commentary” in Get Jiro!, she said, making it a perfect fit for the Vertigo label.

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