Hungry Heroes: The Best of Culinary Comic Books

Superheroes do many things: They leap tall buildings in a single bound, they save the universe. But they rarely, in comics, stop for a snack. It's a sign of gastronomy's growing importance in our culture, then, that culinary comics have surged in recent years beyond the Dagwood sandwich. For comic book fans like me, the genre delivers lessons on dining and cooking in a wildly entertaining format.

Super heroes need to eat, too.

Chew

Chew comic book
Chew, written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory (Image Comics), stars the mystery-solving Tony Chu, who picks up psychic vibes from food. Chew Volume 1: Tasters Choice on Amazon »Rob Guillory/Image Comics
Chew comic book
In Tony Chu's world, poultry is illegal and chefs will stop at nothing to bring back the taste of chicken. The vibrantly drawn allegory is an American version of a gurume manga, Japan's genre of food comics, many of which involve action heroes.Rob Guillory/Image Comics

Oishinbo

Oishinbo comic book
Oishinbo (VIZ Media), a 29-year-old gurume manga with over 100 million copies in print, chronicles a food journalist's quest to produce the ultimate meal. Through our hero's nail-biting adventures, fans get lessons in Japanese cuisine. Oishinbo Vol. 1 on Amazon.com »VIZ Media

Bake Sale

Bake Sale comic book
Author Sara Varon takes a sweeter approach in Bake Sale (First Second, 2011), a graphic novel about a bakery-owning cupcake. It's not only cute, it's a cookbook, with recipes for treats like peppermint brownies and, of course, cupcakes. Bake Sale on Amazon.com »Sara Varon

Okie Dokie Donuts

Okie Dokie Donuts comic book
Chris Eliopoulos's Okie Dokie Donuts (Top Shelf Productions, 2011) is the fable of donut store owner Big Mama and her run-in with a robotic donut maker. Its happy ending reflects our national interest in artisanal foods: "Good food takes time and consideration," Big Mama declares. "I'll make my donuts by hand, now and forever." Okie Dokie Donuts on Amazon.com »Chris Eliopoulos/Top Shelf Productions