Joel Rose was the first guy to publish me--way back in the day when he was running a literary mag out of a tenement on the Lower East Side. Years later, while I was still slinging steaks, still standing next to a deep fryer, he was the first guy to see the possibilities in a book of stories about the restaurant business (Kitchen Confidential). We've stayed friends and in touch, whatever's happening in our lives, thick and thin, over the last 30 years. He knew that I'm a comic book guy and one-time collector (early Eisner, Caniff, early ‘60s Marvels, ‘50s E.C.s, the golden age of Undergrounds). I knew that he's actually worked in the graphic novel field, having written and edited some pioneering stuff for Paradox Press like LA PACIFICA (with Amos Poe) --and worked on A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE and others. I've always loved his books: Kill The Poor, Kill Kill Faster Faster, and The Blackest Bird.
So when he called me up and said "let's do a graphic novel together," it took about ten seconds to say… "Hell, yeah!" What red-blooded overgrown, middle-aged boy wouldn't work on a graphic novel--given the opportunity? I figured there would be food. It's what I know--and worked with for 30 years. I'm a big admirer of the hyper-wonky Japanese manga series Oishinbo, and I thought right away about combining that level of accuracy about food preparation and cookingwith the sort of lurid violence and beautifully inked bloodletting that I always like to see when reading a comic book.
Joel and I talked about many of the things we loved: the artists, writers and films who've influenced and excited us over the years. And we threw a lot of them into the blender, added a dash of Red Harvest, spent a lot of time looking for the perfect artist to execute this food- and bodily-fluid-spattered fever dream--and GET JIRO was born. Our guiding principles were at all times "Let no man question our recipe for blanquette de veau--or our pot au feu " and "Let's make the violence really cool." In this, I think we have succeeded.
One thing I’d like to clarify. As I remember it, I didn’t call Tony with the idea to do a graphic novel together. For a number of years at Thanksgiving he would corner me and say, “You know what would be really cool? I have this idea …”