Old pals Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose revisit their 2012 graphic novel Get Jiro! in chirashizushi of a prequel that piles noir callbacks next to references to Akira and modern food culture, Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi explores the origins of Jiro, scion of a Yakuza empire. Bourdain and Rose sat down with Co.Create this week at New York’s Sake Bar Hagi over yellowtail collar and cold beers to talk about finding the time to develop another story.
Fast Company: You guys obviously go way back. How did you sit down to start working on something like this?
Anthony Bourdain: It’s more like jazz. You start out with a beat or one instrument. Or two. Then there’s a noise. You know, we have a character. We knew where he ended up. We talked very early on—probably over many beers—about where we wanted it to go.
FC: So that’s the process? Sit down and get wasted?
Joel Rose: We didn’t get wasted. We thought about a big idea. It started out [that] we were at Thanksgiving together, and we just talked about working together because we both love comics. I’d actually worked in comics. They bought a screenplay of mine—DC. And hired me as an editor. When I met Tony, he sent me some comics that he’d written and drawn.
FC: Were they any good?
JR: No! [laughs] The writing was good, but the drawing was terrible. But we’ve been friends for all this time. We said let’s get together and do something. He had this idea for Jiro, the sushi chef. And he had a starting place. We just sat there and sort of worked out [that] this is the direction we want to go in. I’m that kind of writer, so I went home and went, “We can do this, this and this.” And then I sent it to him and he said, “I’m not comfortable going this way. Let’s do this.” He’s always riffing [with] me and on the material. He writes in emotional, funny bursts, and there’s always…it’s here; it’s there. But there’s always stuff that you can plug into different places. And we just have this great rapport.
AB: It’s fun.
JR: It’s fun! So much fun.
FC: This whole thing just seems like a fun passion project.
AB: I’m not the guy who’s gonna be buying a Maybach after this.
FC: The first one had some winks and nods at food culture and was trying to play with that. I haven’t had a chance to read the new one yet.
AB: This is very much a reflection of both of our love of Japanese genre [films], Yakuza films of the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s…’80s. Sword flicks. Violent sword flicks like Shogun Assassin and yakuza films like Humanity.
FC: You’ve been getting into jiu jitsu. Was that around the same time as you did the first comic?
AB: No. Jiu jitsu is largely a Brazilian sport at this point anyway. So I’d love to say that “it’s in my blood and spoke to me in such a way that…” but no.
FC: In the third book, will Jiro be wearing plastic gloves while he’s doing all his work?
AB: Honestly, that’s a good bad guy situation. That’d be the forces of evil, working at the health department, trying to get sushi chefs to wear plastic gloves and keep fish chilled. That would be fucking disastrous!
JR: You’re giving him ideas already!