By David Dissanayake
I admit, before doing this interview with John Layman about the Chew/Revival crossover, I was not caught up on Chew and I had not read Revival. I was in love with Chew for a good long while but for reasons I can't recall, I had fallen behind on the series. Revival was a book I had heard a lot of good things about, but I never got around to picking it up.
Then John sent me a copy of the brilliant new Chew/Revival crossover one-shot (co-created with Revival's Tim Seeley and Mike Norton), and I was sucked right back. It's a perfect jumping on point for both series – so much so that I went out and bought the trades of both Chew and Revival. I don't know why I didn't have these on my pull list all along.
There is a lot going on with Chew right now. As you may have heard, an animated adaptation is in the works, voiced by The Walking Dead's Steven Yuen and The Guild's Felicia Day (executive produced by Layman and Guillory). On the comics side, the book is slowly entering its final act. Soon we'll be getting a new Poyo special (!), but before all that Layman, Guillory have teamed up with the Revival team of Seeley and Norton to give us a perfect reminder of why both of these books are so kick ass.
The one-shot shows two sides of a case shared by the characters from both books. The stand alone issue is split perfectly in half between Chew and Revival. Read the first half of the book to get one creative teams take on the story, then flip the book over and get the other team's take on the case. It's brilliantly done, not only providing a perfect entry point into either series, but you also get each of the creative team's take on the other characters. It's hilarious, dark, and twisted all at the same time, and I highly recommend pre-ordering a copy (Diamond Code MAR140497).
I talked with John Layman about his side of the Chew/Revival crossover, what other Chew crossovers we might see, and all things Chew:
David Dissanayake: Tell us a little bit about how you and Tim Seeley got the idea for the cross over. Was this something that has been brewing for a while?
John Layman: There's a few different books I've been wanting to crossover with. Mostly because I'm fans of the books. Revival was at the top of the list. Plus, from a logistical standpoint it would be the easiest because I know Tim and Mike and because it's an Image book. So once I had the story idea it was a matter of convincing Rob, Mike and Tim this would be a good idea– I don't think anybody else thought it was, at first, because the books are so different in tone.
I also knew that, at Issue #41 of a 60 issue finite series, there are not a lot of opportunities for "jumping-on" points. This works as a great introduction to both books.
DD: Can you share a little about the creative process between you two and how you came to decide on the structure of the book?
JL: Well I wrote my story, which is essentially Tony and Colby's (Rob and my characters) first meeting with the Revival characters (Tim and Mikes). I presented it to Tim and Mike, saying, basically, "here's what I envision for the 'crossover.' Now YOU guys do YOUR version of the first meeting. Don't worry about continuity between the two stories. Our story counts in our universe, and features your characters. Your story counts in your universe, and features our characters.
DD: What was it like working together and having to share your worlds with each other? Were there ever times when you were putting the story together where either of you had to say "no! They're mine! Don't mess that character up!"
JL: Not really. Again, the stories are each their own beast, and I know enough about Revival I'm not going to do anything that's untrue to the character. And that seemed to apply to Tim with Tony Chew. Mostly it was just really cool to see pages come in from Norton featuring our Tony… never seen any sequentials from anybody other than Rob of Tony Chu. It was both weird, and very cool. I've always loved Norton's art to begin with.
DD: Will we get another crossover between Chew and Revival, or any other series for that matter? I can think of a handful of Image titles that would be hilarious, and there is something about Chew that makes it perfect for some cross-book culture sharing.
JL: I've got a few other books I'd like to cross over with. At the top of the list are a couple non-Image books, so I don't know the feasibility. I'd like to do 6th Gun and Quantum and Woody. Of course, this Revival thing was fun enough I would not mind doing a Chew/Revival 2 in a year or so. Then again, Rob can only draw so fast, and while these crossovers are fun, they through the regular book a bit off schedule. It's probably not something we will do too often.
DD: So were entering the final third of Chew. Now that we're slowly orbiting closer and closer to the final issue, what's it like as the writer in terms of constructing the story and starting to bring things together now? Does this last phase change your approach to the book?
JL: It's tough, no doubt. I have to start answering questions, resolving things, and bodies will start dropping. As a writer, I think this is going to be the hardest part of the book to write.
DD: So I hear there is a second Poyo special coming out. Poyo has become a nice little cult hit character. What can you tease us with about the future of his role in Chew?
JL: The current arc of Chew is titled "Chicken Tenders" and it very Poyo-centric, with the Poyo playing a bigger role in the arc than any arc previously. Up until now, we've been doing these crazy "Poyo vs. ,,," spreads, once per arc. The frequency increases to once an issue in this arc.
DD: What can you tell us about more John Layman projects. I'm sure you can't give too much away at this point since nothing is announced, but can you give us a little hint about what else we might see from you in the future?
JL: Not a goddamn thing. I'm a lazy person, I'm still greatly enjoying the free time I have after leaving Batman, and I am hooked on Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare. Chew is all that I am working on right now, at least until I get 3 or 4 scripts ahead of Rob and buy myself some breathing room.
The Chew/Revival Crossover will be available from Image Comics May 28th
David Dissanayake is Senior San Francisco Correspondent at Bleeding Cool. Give him a shout on Twitter @dwdissanayake and come say hello to him at Mission: Comics & Art in San Francisco.