Media Consumers for Entertainment Equality
Chew is the story of Tony Chu, a Chinese American “cibopathic” detective who gets psychic impressions from things he eats (from food to the macabre.) The comics feature a very diverse cast of characters that is only growing as the series heads towards its 20th issue. We’ve previously featured the comic book Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory in several articles including a Media Monday and our 2010 Holiday Shopping List.
The ongoing comic book series from Image Comics swept industry awards like the Harvey and the Eisner for Best New Series in 2010. As far as we’re aware, Chew is the first work centering around an Asian American charaacter to win the Harvey Award and the Eisner Award in this category. (An astute commenter rightly points out that prior to Chew‘s wins, Derek Kirk Kim won Harvey and Eisner awards in artist categories for Same Difference and Other Stories.)
“Tony Chu is an Asian dude, Chinese specifically, I would hope if CHEW ever got translated into another media, he’d remain Asian.” – Chew Issue #3 Q&A
According to writer John Layman, Tony Chu’s physical appearance in the comic series is inspired by Asian American actor Ken Leung (LOST). “Tony Chu is modeled after Ken Leung, who plays Miles on ‘Lost’ and was great on ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘X3′ and everything else I’ve seen him in,” Layman told Comic Book Resources back in April 2009. “If there is ever a TV or movie version of ‘Chew,’ he’s got exactly the right intensity for the part and is this great mix of engaging and appealing and likable, while being a little unlikable at the same time—just like Tony Chu, who’s a guy a lot of other characters in the book regard as kind of a dick. At least, that’s what his own brother thinks. And his partner.”
In an August 2010 interview with Comic Book Resources, Layman shared that the creators of CHEW sent Leung copies of the book and that they’ve since exchanged emails with the actor:
“As for Ken Leung, a friend of mine got the contact information of his manager and we sent them a couple runs of the book, along with a nice note saying how much we liked him in general, and for Tony Chu. I thought since his name had been thrown around in so many interviews and message board postings, he should just be aware of the book. I didn’t know what to expect, but we heard back from the manager and then from Leung. We’ve had a few back and forth emails since, but the bottom line is that Ken Leung is not only aware of “Chew,” but he’s read it and seems to like it. That’s a start, right?” - CHEW writer John Layman
In August 2010, production house Circle of Confusion and director Stephen Hopkins began developing CHEW into a television series.
On March 25th, premium cable television channel SHOWTIME bought the script for CHEW, written by Supernatural and Eureka writers Terri Hughes Burton and Ron Milbauer, bringing a television series one step closer to realization.
Whether or not Ken Leung assumes the lead role, we hope that Tony Chu will be cast with an Asian American actor, making CHEW the first series on SHOWTIME to ever star an Asian American leading man.