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Art and suffering in Angouleme: Is there a place for a woman in the comic book industry?
The 43rd International Comic Festival, the most significant event of its kind in Europe, held in Angouleme, a city in France, ended a few days ago on a sullen note:…

Continue reading →

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The World “Zhui”: Alexander Ilyin about a detective comic book lined up around food

In Russian, the second volume of the comic strip series “Rui” was released – a gloomy fantasy about a detective who can see his past by a bitten apple. However, the series itself describes the future of our planet – and the restaurant critic of the “Poster Daily” by Alexander Ilyin, it most likely delights.
It is strange that in all futurological concepts of the future, food is either not mentioned at all, as in Kurzweil, or, like in Diamandis, it is referred to for the time being. Like, “Well, there will be plenty, because robots and technologies will do the right thing, yes, but there is also vertical farming, so prosperity will come anyway.”

Both that and another speaks that the predictions devoted to food in general and the gastronomic picture of the future in particular, few people seriously care. Here, of course, one can argue about what is “seriously” as applied to food, because the idea of ​​“feeding everyone” is noble, but it relates indirectly to breakfast, lunch and dinner that we eat. It’s more about politics, fair distribution and policing, or something.

For the restaurant critic and the daily consumer of yogurt, pastrami, cheesecakes, the future of food is what we will consider tasty and disgusting, how we will cook it, how to grow it and where to buy it, in what form the food will get into our house, how the cooking business outside the home will change and what troubles it faces.

It’s funny that the first work that fell into my hands answering these questions was a comic. In the American version it is called “Chew”, in Russian localization it unexpectedly successfully renamed to “Rui”. The authors are John Layman and Rob Gillory. The second volume in Russian has just come out, including issues from 11 to 20; 55 issues have already been published in the USA, there will be 60 in total. And I re-read the first two Russian books up and down – although, in fact, they read comics and I can’t tear myself away.

Reviewers, describing “Ruy”, write that the action takes place there in an alternate reality. To some, it may be an alternative, but for me and many of my colleagues it’s almost everyday. This is a world entirely focused on food. Well, a little on sex – without this, nothing works at all. Gangsters do not sell drugs there, but nuggets, the police ambush secret cafes, the best detective reveals crimes by taking a bite from the evidence, and the most important journalist in the local newspaper is, well, a restaurant critic. At the same time, everything happens against the background of the most severe food prohibitions, conspiracy theories and experiments with gene modification – and then fire letters flare up in the sky. And this is not even the middle. In short, sweetie.

If we distract ourselves from the absolutely fantastic jumps of the author’s fantasy, the world of the comic strip “Rui” turns out to be frighteningly familiar. Any future, as you know, sprouts from the present, and just look around to make sure. For example, I shake in the subway and read on the smartphone about the GMO conspiracy. In the Vietnamese market I look at the collapses, on them are objects that I have never seen in my life: it’s interesting how to cook them and eat them. Visiting the famous chef I try bacon-flavored jelly. At a picnic, I’m trying to grill chicken thighs, as fat as a piece of butter, I don’t know how the chicken that gave them looked: maybe it has six legs. I turn on the TV, and there the tractor rolls out a contraband goose and apples – as if they were enemies of the people. Then I try a potential friend of the people – the Russian Camembert. And a little more unexpected: German beer with grapefruit flavor. Then again in the subway – I study materials about a burger grown from stem cells. I read that the chefs Berezutsky are now also footballers (the twins were recently confused in a note on kommersant.ru. – Ed.), And I consume megabytes of food as an object that is usually laid out on a plate and carefully absorbed with a fork and knife. It is clear that if against the background of all this informational absurdity detectives Zhui, Colby and Mason set off in pursuit of evil, then the picture will only gain some completeness.

In general, “Chew” for me is a book of the future in every sense. Firstly, she describes this future. And there is nothing more important than to come up with what it looks like that does not exist yet: look at the submarines, skyscrapers or computer tablets – they were first introduced, and then invented. By the way, the second point: if paper books or books from some similar material with physically tangible pages survive in the future, these will be comics. And the third one: the “Zhui” series once again reminds us that any supernova technology will always find some ancient human vice – laziness, anger, greed or gluttony.

Predicting the era of universal nutritional equality, futurologists must definitely remember this and not especially flatter themselves. It also makes sense to consult restaurant critics: we all know that nutrition, like no other sphere of human life, is most reminiscent of the game of Cossack robbers.

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