The cookbook as comic book trend


Comic cookbooks

The earliest cookery books were simple instruction manuals. A few line drawings might accompany the text, but lavish design was just not part of the equation. This was partly to do with cost; few books had color pages. As the price of both photography and color printing came down, more and more books included photographs, to the point where you could hardly think about publishing a cookbook that didn’t have loads of sumptuous pictures. Now a new trend is hitting the genre – cookbooks that look like comic books

Recent books like Amanda Cohen’s Dirt Candy: A Cookbook, published in 2012,  use comics “to show both the restaurant’s backstory and how to make its recipes,” says Eater. Other examples include Chop, Sizzle, Wow (a pared-down comic version of the The Silver Spoon), Cook Korean! by Robin Ha, and The Adventures of Fat Rice by Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo and Hugh Amano.

Part of the reason this format has become popular is that it can provide a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to actually make a dish. Gorgeous photographs are lovely to view but offer little in the way of instruction, meaning that many beautiful cookbooks are destined for the coffee table and not the kitchen. That’s one of the reasons that Amanda Cohen chose the comic book format for Dirt Candy. There is a growing consensus that modern cookbooks are more for looking than for cooking. For those who have sampled the comic-book format, have you found that you cook more from this style of book than from others?

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  • Jenny  on  November 18, 2016

    A little comic relief is acceptable – if the majority of the book is in comic format – I most likely won't cook from it – it might be cool to look at – but not my book of choice.

  • Analyze  on  November 19, 2016

    This sounds really interesting! Since so many cookbook lovers use cookbooks partly as a novel for entertaining and inspiring reading, I don't see why this wouldn't be fun. Seems harder to cook from, but I'm sure the author figured that out. I'll have to check this out!

  • kitchen_chick  on  November 29, 2016

    I'm generally not a fan. I've passed on buying several cookbooks because the comic format. Depending on art, color, and lettering style, the comic format can be harder to read for me. I do have Fat Rice, which is mostly not in a comic book style. The art is fantastic and the one-page step by step drawings are really useful, but the recipes written as comic storyboards I find less useful.

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