A couple years ago, I read James Stokoe’s awesome “Godzilla: Half-Century War” and knew that here was a comic artist/writer to watch. A lot of comic artists think they can write and are totally wrong, so it’s nice to see one who actually can. With “Wonton Soup” Stokoe lets his imagination and bent sense of humor off the chain. Someone called it a mix of “Iron Chef” and John Carpenter’s “Dark Star.” OK. I’ll give him that. But I also see a lot of the kinda cruel humor of “Lexx,” too.
The story is about a couple of space truckers, one a prodigy chef who’s left school to taste life, the other a spaced out sex fiend losing himself in narcotics and anyone (or thing) that’s willing. They go around getting into trouble, eating and smoking whatever they can get their hands on. It’s stoner comedy, with meta references and a wild sense of fun (tinged with some bitterness). The art is surprisingly vibrant for black & white, with Stokoe’s usual sense of strange.
My only complaint about the book is that it’s sort of food porn, but the food is all Dr. Seuss nonsense. I mean, it makes sense in the context of the story, but part of me kept wanting the cooking scenes and food parts to be more serious and real. Probably a completely unfair expectation, but I couldn’t help it. I found the sometimes extensive food porn parts less exciting because I couldn’t sample anything or use any of the techniques myself. Silly, huh?
Years ago, I worked with an artist to write a short comic called “ProxyFight.” We worked long and hard on the six pages. Both of us were fans of “Lexx” and other weird science fiction films, TV shows, and books. Reading “Wonton Soup” made me so nostalgic for my time working on “ProxyFight” and all the other stuff the artist and I had planned to follow up that short with. Alas, that never happened, but I still have those memories. By far the best collaborative experience I’ve had. It made reading "Wonton Soup" oddly personal.
-Matthew J. Constantine