cover image Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghosts

Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghosts

Anthony Bourdain et al. Dark Horse/Berger, $14.88 (128p) ISBN 978-1-5067-0669-6

Structured as an old-fashioned Tales from the Crypt–style horror anthology, complete with a frame story and ghoulish host, the twist to Bourdain’s slim, last known comics work is that these offerings are all food-themed—and all variations on yarns from Kwaidan, Lafcadio Hearn’s collection of traditional Japanese ghost lore. The spooks include a hungry ghost from Buddhist belief, a ravenous sea monster, an insatiable mouth that appears on a man’s body, and a yuki-onna (snow woman). Each piece is drawn by a different artist, including such comics luminaries as Vanesa Del Rey, Francesco Francavilla, and Paul Pope. Never seeming sure of how seriously it wants to take itself, the compendium intersperses solemn retellings of folklore and snarling horror art with occasional tongue-in-cheek (and delightful) lines like “I will strip you, devour you like an artichoke in season!” But as each selection clocks in at around 12 pages, there’s not much space to develop deeper narrative, and, though the art is generally solid, some of the artists struggle to create an eerie atmosphere. The best part is the recipe section in the back, in which Bourdain offers dishes themed to each tale. Alas, while there’s rich potential in food horror, the brew here tastes like a clever idea that could have been better executed. (Oct.)