cover image The Delicacy

The Delicacy

James Albon. Top Shelf, $24.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-60309-492-4

The haute cuisine scene becomes a devilish morality play in this heavy-handed but still pungent graphic novel from Albon (A Shining Beacon). “Homeschooled and never vaccinated” brothers Rowan and Tulip (who prefers Danny) grew up with a domineering hippie mother on a remote Scottish island where the former farms and the latter dreams of being a fine-dining chef. They are no sooner given news of a family inheritance than the brothers are off to the mainland. Danny opens a high-end London eatery serving organic produce from Rowan’s nearby farm. A rough start is saved by Rowan’s discovery of a curious mushroom whose otherworldly taste—a glorious two-page spread depicts Danny’s first nibble as a consciousness-expanding moment of ecstasy—brings crowds flocking. But as celebrities and food bloggers swoon, and the restaurant becomes an empire, Danny’s greed becomes an ever-hungrier beast. A visit from a gangster tips the tale of bootstrapping “cuisine de terroir” into Blood Simple territory. The art delivers shivers of both beauty (the swoops of color have a van Gogh quality) and caricatured horror (Danny’s trend-hunting clientele are Ralph Steadman–esque grotesques). It’s a sharply rendered tale of unlikely tragedy. (June)