James Albon’s new graphic novel, The Delicacy, shouldn’t be one to be learn simply earlier than heading out to dinner. Set on the planet of flashy eating places, this parable of greed and ambition comes with a macabre ending that may undoubtedly put you proper off your chanterelles on toast. Besides, it’s a deal with from begin to end. Not like so many current comics – depressing, wilfully obscure books that I’ve usually struggled to get by means of – this one is a page-turner, as addictive because the dishes dreamed up by its hero, a younger man identified to his household as Tulip.
When the story begins, Tulip and his brother, Rowan, live on a Scottish island with their mom, Pegasus (previously Sarah Inexperienced), a lady whose different life-style entails a lot balancing of her chakras and lengthy lectures in regards to the embrace of Gaia. Each males want to escape her clutches and a possibility to take action quickly presents itself within the type of a lawyer, who arrives from the mainland bringing with him the information that they’ve inherited a home in rural Cambridgeshire from their aunt and uncle. Pegasus warns them about England – it’s all concrete and nuclear energy – however they’re decided. Off they head of their van, stopping solely to refuel at a motorway service station. “I as soon as noticed Nigel from Mum’s Wiccan circle consuming a pizza on the ferry to Ullapool,” observes Tulip as they tuck into the processed meals they’ve been forbidden for thus lengthy.
Their new house is simply what they want. Rowan, who has inexperienced fingers, establishes a vegetable backyard, the produce from which Tulip, a gifted prepare dinner, will use within the restaurant he now units up in a down-at-heel nook of east London. However when his enterprise out of the blue turns into wildly well-liked – a star sticks it on her Instagram; a critic offers it a rave evaluation – one thing ugly begins to stir inside him. He can not resist the temptation to develop, first in Belgravia and Soho, then in New York, the place his workers will, he says, quickly be “washing dishes with Alain Ducasse’s tears”. His brother will henceforth be simply one other hyperlink in a provide chain, wanted just for the extraordinary mushrooms he grows.
Issues start to spiral down. Why are Rowan’s mushrooms so scrumptious and why do they solely develop in sure locations? Answering these questions will convey each brothers to the sting of insanity and, ultimately, to tragedy (although this being a ebook about upmarket hospitality, their demise will quickly be forgotten, a shark-like maitre d’ quickly taking up the place they left off). It may all be fairly deranged on the web page – and in a approach, it’s – however Albon is an professional ringmaster. His drawings, so fluid and vibrant, are tailored for the depiction of the ravenous hordes – the extra trendy somebody is, the extra grotesque he makes them look – and he’s a shrewd observer of the wilder shores of the up to date restaurant kitchen. His pen is as sharp as any Japanese knife and he at all times appears to know precisely what wants filleting.