Hungry Ghosts' Appetite For Destruction


by Vince Brusio

Writers Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose reimagined classic Japanese stories of yokai, yorei, and obake to produce Anthony Bourdain's Hungry Ghosts HC (MAY180324) for Dark Horse Comics. If you think you want to poke at ancient artifacts of imagination to see if they go well with broken chop sticks and expired sake, this series should unquestionably leave you with indigestion. That’s the point, you see. Horror that hits the stomach. To help guide you to the rest room so that you can discharge your sickness is co-writer Joel Rose in this PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview in which he assures us that even though you’re turning green, you’ll still be turning the pages for four issues of food-inspired fear. It’s bad brain food that’s good for you!

Anthony Bourdain's Hungry Ghosts HC (MAY180324) is in comic shops September 12.


Vince Brusio: Introduce us to the characters in this dance of death. Who are they? What makes them tick? 

Joel Rose: Each issue features two stories, all with roots in traditional Kaidan. Here in the first, we deal with archetypal “hungry ghosts,” the starving skeleton and a shape-shifting animal yokei, called a sazae oni, or a shelled demon. In history, all these ghosts in all eight stories had a bone to pick, and in our accounts, nothing has changed. 

Vince Brusio: How did the collaboration work out with you and Anthony Bourdain as co-writers? How did you two trade off responsibilities for this project? 

Joel Rose: Tony and I worked together many times over the years, in fiction and non-fiction. I edited Typhoid Mary back in the day, and published his first piece to see ink, “Chef’s Night Out.” In our comic work Tony came up with the ideas and fed them to me. I worked them up, added some structure, and returned to him to flesh out scenes and add spice. Back and forth we went, until we were both satisfied. If I tell you it was pure fun.

Vince Brusio: This book is kicking off the Berger Books imprint at Dark Horse. How do things work under that umbrella? How did you interact with Karen Berger during production? What was her role for Hungry Ghosts?

Joel Rose: I was part of Andy Helfer’s fiefdom at DC Comics. He bought a screenplay of mine called La Pacifica and after I did the comic book script, he offered me a job at Paradox Press to edit the mystery line. Karen Berger was running Vertigo, and I like many others, masses really, loved what she was doing. Years later, Tony was bugging me to do a graphic novel with him and I contacted Karen with the idea for Get Jiro!. She loved it and here we are. A writer can’t ask for a better editor. Her knowledge, runs cheek to jowl with her tact. She’s the best. There’s no one better. Knowledge, attention to detail, innovating thinking. I could ask for nothing more.

Vince Brusio: Tell us about some of the artists attached to this project. What did they bring to the table in regards to their individual interpretations of your stories? How did they “fit”?

Joel Rose: I can name names: Vanese del Rey, Paul Pope, Sebastian Cabrol, Francesco Francavilla, Irene Koh, Leonardo Manco, Alberto Ponticelli, and Mateus Santolouco, but for me as a writer, there is no greater privilege to join forces and work with story-tellers of this caliber using an entirely different vocabulary from mine. And I’m not only talking about the artists, but also about the colorist, Jose Villarrubia as well. We worked together on the Jiro books, and, man, the guy is good. He always asks me what I’m thinking about, what kind of pallet, and I always opt out. Let him do what he wants to do. It’ll be better than anything I could ever direct. Working with people like these is only privilege, and the result has never failed to surpass anything I could have imagined.

Vince Brusio: If you could isolate a scene or two that would best act as a teaser for this book, what would we see?

Joel Rose: I’ve always thought it would invariably be a bad thing to have your head torn off and your blood drunk directly from your neck stump, but who knows, there might be worse things in life. That’s the first story, “The Starving Skeleton.” In the second story, “The Pirates,” it’s your balls, and it’s not much better.



Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.

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