photo & text by nacrowe
the conceit of the graphic novel HUNGRY GHOSTS (DARK HORSE, 2018) is that of an EDO-period JAPANESE PARLOR GAME called HYAKUMONOGATARI KAIDANKAI (or "a gathering of one hundred supernatural tales") that found samurai telling stories to each other about GHOULISH TALES and FOLKLORE, each snuffing out one of a hundred candles after each story. as the room got DARKER with each passing candle being snuffed out, the samurai would continue until the 100th was extinguished thus allowing for a haven for the spirits to commune in their realm. according to custom theyd stop at 99 for that EXACT reason.
given that this graphic novel was co-written by the CELEBRATED chef and television personality ANTHONY BOURDAIN shortly before his death, the spin with HUNGRY GHOSTS is that these stories are told about food-related TRANSGRESSIONS and ABOMINATIONS against nature. themes of EXCESS, GLUTTONY and GREED in the face of other's need for want in order to maintain basic survival pervade throughout these stories ranging geographically from SPAIN, FRANCE, the AMERICAN MIDWEST and JAPAN. i dont wish to give away the ending but there is a BUDDHIST karmic sense of MORALITY at play with being MODEST in your INDULGENCES, less they define or literally consume you in the process. eating meat is not the issue, but rather the MORAL IMPLICATIONS of succumbing to your NEEDS and DESIRES while maintaining the suffering of others in close proximity in the process.
for someone with such an close relationship with food and its UNIQUE potential to initiate human relationships and maintain community interactions (as dining with people is an INTIMATE experience), it is quite compelling that BOURDAIN decided to use this same trope of a collective group meal to showcase such CLASS DIVISION and MORAL DEPRAVITY at the hands of the host, guests and kitchen staff at a formal dinner hosted by a RUSSIAN billionaire with presumed ILL-GOTTEN gains. its an INTERESTING reversal that works because of how ICONIC the dinner meal is as a GLOBAL cultural and even religious institution.
i should mention that HUNGRY GHOSTS was co-written with JOEL ROSE and the tales were manifested by DISINTGUISED, TOP-TIER visual talent in PAUL POPE, JOSE VILLARRUBIA, SEBASTIAN CABROL, ALBERT PONTICELLI, LEONARDO MANCO, SAL CIPRIANO, FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA, IRENE KOH, MATEUS SANTOLOUCO and VANESSA DEL REY. definitely worth checking out.
RIP ANTHONY BOURDAIN