To celebrate National Food Month, ComicsVerse has compiled a list of five food-centric comics for food-lovers everywhere! The list is surprisingly diverse, ranging from comedy to horror. In short, there’s something here to please every palate, so put on your stretchy pants and get ready for a feast.

How To Find Free Food As A Starving Student

1. HUNGRY GHOSTS by Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose

Dark Horse’s series HUNGRY GHOSTS makes for a delicious amuse-bouche to kick off National Food Month. As an anthology series, those new to comics won’t have to keep track of complicated story arcs. Also, there are only four issues to collect, so the commitment is minimal. Finally, Anthony Bourdain has thrown himself into the comic ring yet again with this one. Even if you know nothing about the comics industry, I’m sure you recognize the name of the celebrity chef that lends his star power to PARTS UNKNOWN.

National Food Month
Courtesy of Dark Horse

HUNGRY GHOSTS pays homage to the traditions of food and storytelling that crosses all cultures. The premise of the series is that a group of multicultural chefs is playing 100 Candles, a game where each participant must tell a ghost story and subsequently blow a candle out. Of course, being that this is a group of chefs after all, the stories that they choose naturally revolve around food. But be warned — this is a horror comic, and graphic imagery abounds! The final issue of HUNGRY GHOSTS releases on May 9th. In the meantime, you can purchase the first three issues here.

Best Dish: Ramen

The contents of HUNGRY GHOSTS tend to be a little less than savory. Still, this beautiful bowl of ramen on HUNGRY GHOSTS #1 will draw you right in. Beware! The ramen is a trap — you probably will lose your appetite after reading through the first three issue of this comic. Still, for those new to the kitchen, these ramen upgrades might be the best way to start honing your skills and convince your friends that you don’t actually live off of instant ramen (even if you do).

HUNGRY GHOSTS #1 Review: Spooky Scary Skeletons

2. SPACE BATTLE LUNCHTIME by Natalie Riess

The mystery basket is the bane of every CHOPPED contestant’s existence. Can you imagine how anxious it must make a chef to cook with an ingredient they’ve never worked with before, let alone never even heard of? Now, what if that ingredient was from another planet entirely? In fact, what if the entirety of CHOPPED took place inside of some kind of outer space arena? SPACE BATTLE LUNCHTIME expands on this “what if” scenario to create a comic that is equal parts adorable and vicious. With its focus on food preparation, SPACE BATTLE LUNCHTIME is made for fans of CHOPPED, MASTERCHEF, and TOP CHEF.

National Food Month
Courtesy of Oni Press

SPACE BATTLE LUNCHTIME is a quirky adventure that takes us behind the scenes of reality cooking competitions. Peony, a pastry chef from Earth, finds herself competing in an intergalactic cooking show. She is very obviously the underdog here, as she is forced to incorporate space ingredients into her Earth food. Don’t you dare be fooled by the cute art — the competitors in SPACE BATTLE LUNCHTIME are as tough as they come! Peony will have to think fast on her feet if she hopes to take them down and be the champion. The series from Oni Press has been collected into two volumes, which can be purchased here.

Best Dish: Space Cupcakes!

Over the course of SPACE BATTLE LUNCHTIME, Peony whips up several batches of sweet treats with space ingredients, including cupcakes. Why settle for a box mix when you can take the space theme to the next level. Put on your favorite apron and try these galaxy cupcakes from YouTube sensation The Scran Line. These sweet treats are the ideal way celebrate National Food Month with your alien friends!

An Interview With SPACE BATTLE LUNCHTIME’s Natalie Riess

3. STARVE by Brian Wood, Daniel Zezelj, and Dave Stewart

If you’ve enjoyed Alton Brown’s transformation from the delightfully nerdy host of GOOD EATS to the sadistic MC of CUTTHROAT KITCHEN, boy, do I have a comic for you. Like SPACE BATTLE LUNCHTIME, Image Comics’ STARVE pushes the cooking competition to its extreme. But instead of competing against aliens in outer space, the chefs of STARVE compete for the approval of the ultra-rich using exotic, sometimes illegal ingredients, in a dystopian future on the brink of social collapse.

National Food Month
Courtesy of Image Comics

STARVE serves as both a commentary on the exploitative nature of reality television competitions as well as a commentary on the injustices of classism. For example, in STARVE #1, the contestants are asked to cook with “common meat,” also known as dog. Disgusting? Well, only if you’re not poor. This is just one example of how STARVE points to how reality shows can exotify non-Western cultures. Plus, in a world where food deserts are all too common, STARVE is a dark series that hits close to home. If you have an interest in food justice and a strong stomach, this might be the series for you pick up during National Food Month. The entire run of STARVE has been collected into two volumes, the first of which can be found here.

Best Dish: Raw Bluefin Tuna

I’m a sucker for sashimi, so hypothetically I would still eat that raw bluefin tuna dish from STARVE #2, even if it was the last tuna on earth. Sorry to disappoint everyone in this make-believe apocalyptic scenario. But, hey — instead of eating an endangered species like a monster, you can try Tyler Florence’s pan-seared tuna recipe here. Or, you may want to leave the semi-raw meat to the professionals and head to your favorite sushi spot instead.

FOOD WARS! English Dub is a Dish Worth Tasting

4. BRAVE CHEF BRIANNA by Sam Sykes, Selina Espiritu, and Sarah Stern

Brianna’s father is a famous chef who promises his children that whoever is the most successful in the food world will inherit his culinary empire. Strapped for cash but still hoping to compete with her 15 brothers, Brianna opens a restaurant in Monster City. However, she quickly realizes that her monster clientele is less than appreciative of her human food. She’ll have to learn how to please the monsters fast if she hopes to make her restaurant a success!

National Food Month
Courtesy of BOOM! Studios

Despite the challenge of cooking for monsters, the biggest adversary standing in Brianna’s way is her own self-doubt, which manifests as a black cloud. Brianna’s journey emulates the experience of trying to make it in any industry, especially one as competitive as the restaurant world. Although BRAVE CHEF BRIANNA’s attempts to address social issues like gentrification are a bit clunky, the comic features a strong female protagonist that is sure to inspire young chefs of any gender during National Food Month. The comic also features recipes at the back of each issue that are suitable for human and monster consumption alike!

The limited series from kaBOOM! is short and sweet — all four issues of BRAVE CHEF BRIANNA can be purchased as a single collection here.

Best Dish: Brazilian Cheese Waffle Breakfast Sandwiches

Although the back pages of BRAVE CHEF BRIANNA provide several enticing recipes, the waffle sandwich in the back of BRAVE CHEF BRIANNA #1 is the clear winner of the bunch. This breakfast sandwich is a play on pão de queijo, a Brazilian cheese bread. It features arugula, an over-easy egg, and, of course, no breakfast sandwich is complete with a few slices of avocado. If you can’t get your hands on the first issue of BRAVE CHEF BRIANNA, you can find a similar waffle recipe here and add the fixins of your choosing.

BRAVE CHEF BRIANNA #1 Review: Mostly Sweet, A Little Sour

5. CHEW by John Layman and Rob Guillory

With two Eisner Awards under its belt, CHEW is the perfect comic to round out our list for National Food Month. Although the series concluded in 2016, CHEW is one of the essential reads from Image Comics. It’s also ideal for fans of weird fiction — CHEW is violent, funny, kinda gross, and all about food. CHEW follows Food and Drug Administration agent Tony Chu. But Chu is no ordinary agent, he’s a cibopath — a person who has the ability to gain psychic impressions from food. In fact, Tony is but one of many zany characters that totes a food-centric superpower in this series. For example, he has a crush on a food blogger who is able to describe dishes so perfectly that you can literally taste them.

National Food Month
Courtesy of Image Comics

On a deeper level, CHEW can serve as a bit of a social commentary. The series touches on GMOs, the future of food scarcity, and how little we know about where our food comes from. But, it approaches this commentary in a way that is subtle. If you just want to sit down and just enjoy a quirky, bloody comic about food-centric superpowers, you are welcome to do so without being barraged with a message about social justice. The entirety of the series has been collected in 12 different volumes, the first of which you can find here.

Best Dish: Gallsaberries

Okay, maybe “best” isn’t the greatest way to describe the gallsaberry. Most iconic, perhaps? The fictional fruit apparently tastes just like chicken in the CHEW-niverse, which is particularly appealing given that chicken is illegal. So maybe you can’t get your hand on a gallsaberry, but jackfruit offers a pretty similar experience. This Indian fruit has emerged in the last few years as one of the trendier meat substitutes. Its meaty texture and appearance make it ideal for stir-frys, sandwiches, and beyond. If you want to step out of your comfort zone this National Food Month, head to the nearest Asian market to pick up this miracle fruit. Then, try your hand at this recipe for pulled “pork.”

The Search for Salt Continues in UMAMI #5

Happy National Food Month!

Did your favorite food comic make the cut? What would you add to our list? Let us know in the comments below!

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