The late chef and comic writer Anthony Bourdain left fans with a final comic collection from Dark Horse, Hungry Ghosts, co-written with his Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi partner Joel Rose. That’s already enough to get foodies and horror fans in the door. But if comic audiences need that final nudge, we at SYFY WIRE may have just the thing for you.
Hungry Ghosts, which hit stores earlier this year as a four-issue miniseries and will be released on Oct. 2 as a snazzy hardcover collection, is a collaboration among several artists, who use their unique styles to visually interpret the spooky stories from the comic's collection of international chefs. The group’s ghost stories all need a different spin to scare us, and to prep us for the recipes that Bourdain included (none of which had been published previously).
One of those artists is Hellblazer’s Leonardo Manco, and we’ve got an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how his artwork for “Salty Horse” came to be.
Manco, whose art style is thickly inked and busy with a boldness that mixes the worlds of Hieronymus Bosch and Heavy Metal, has illustrated superheroes for both DC and Marvel, but has found much of his genre success in subjects flecked with horror.
“I grew up reading anthologies of police, horror, and science fiction, and all of them in black and white,” Manco tells SYFY WIRE via email. “From there I was able to nurture myself on artists of great caliber like Alberto Breccia, his son Enrique, Lucho Olivera, and others (all of my country Argentina), and undoubtedly the sum of all of them were, and today they still are, a source of inspiration in my work.”
But more specifically to “Salty Horse,” Manco cited the narrative itself.
“The story told me about a guy who ultimately devours himself,” Manco says, “something cowardly and like every coward, also perverse. For that reason he annihilates a noble and faithful creature, and through his act of gluttony he devours his last trait of humanity, and that's what I try to tell visually in the first sequence of the first four pages.”
Manco teases a slow start to a much more chaotic and gruesome finale — more gruesome than a skinless horse head? — that he described with the vocabulary of a different medium. “The comics do not interest me in the least, I'm not interested in the codes or the treatment methods. I am more interested in the language of cinema, and to translate that language is what I try to do in each project,” Manco explains. “Let's say that every time I sit in front of the board, I feel like I'm a film director, handling the actors, the lights, the cameras and their angles, rather than a comic artist.”
Using this strategy to approach his horrific depiction of a wealthy man’s descent into debauchery certainly brings to mind movies like David Fincher’s sinful crime story Seven. Check out the gallery below for some disturbing — yet oddly tantalizing — artwork from a master of horrific images. Though if the sketches below whet your appetite, may we suggest taking a step back from the internet and all its ghost stories for a while.
Hungry Ghosts' hardcover edition hits stores on Oct. 2.