John Layman: Chew & Beyond!!!
This weekend, at Wizard World Sacramento 2015, I had a chance to speak with John Layman. The writer of the Image series Chew was incredibly positive and optimistic about the future. He acknowledged the fact there were only 10 issues left in his epic independent series, created with collaborator Rob Guillory, but pointed out that there were still some exciting Chew-related items to look forward to.
After hearing I had been a fan since the beginning of the series, John asked if I had heard the news that broke on Thursday. David Tennant had been chosen to do the voice of Mason Savoy, Tony Chu's partner, in the upcoming animated series. I asked why there had not been much news in the past year about the project prior to this announcement. John said it was because Robin Williams had originally been selected, or was being courted, for the role. When Robin died last year, the creative team had to start again looking for prospective talent. John mentioned that David was in a recording studio doing work for another project when Chew was proposed to him and both parties were quickly able to come to an agreement to bring the actor on board. He was a great get for the series that continues to add big name talent to the roster that already includes Steven Yeun (Walking Dead) and Felicia Day (The Guild/Supernatural/Eureka). John described it as a bit of a “nerdy dream team” of actors lined up to contribute to the series. The first production would cover the material from the first trade paperback and lay the groundwork for future episodes. While there is currently no distribution deal in place, he mentioned that the creators would own the full rights and intended to distribute it through various online partners. Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix were mentioned as potential outlets for the show.
A Chew card game will be coming very soon from IDW games. The creative team at IDW games crafted the dynamics of the game and how it is played, but John was heavily involved in content for each of the cards, including selecting the artwork and determining which cards should be most powerful (Tony's Ear, for example). He was excited to see how fans would respond to seeing their favorite characters and story elements in this new format. John is very passionate about his series and wants to see that products that carry the Chew name are of the highest quality.
Before saying goodbye to John, I asked him what his plans were for the future. I mentioned that he had had some success working for DC and other publishers and wondered if he would be returning to them soon. He said that he and Rob, who has not done much work outside of Chew, may try to stay together and pitch a lesser-known or underused title to one of the big two publishers. With the buzz that will surely surround the upcoming final issues of Chew, John was optimistic that it might carry over into the team getting a chance to bring new life to something and give the two creators a chance to bring their unique stylings to a larger, more mainstream audience with Marvel or DC. If the creative team is able to pull it off, it would be something exciting to look forward to.