Monday, June 13, 2011

Trade Waiting – Supersized: Strange Tales From A Fast-Food Culture

A few years back, Morgan Spurlock made a documentary that changed the face of fast food forever more. That documentary was Super Size Me and if you’ve seen it I’m sure you will remember it. The 30 day challenge was to only eat McDonald’s and this diet had terrible effects on Spurlock. This book, completely titled Supersized: Strange Tales From A Fast-Food Culture, is part adaptation of the basics of that movie and part continuation of other terrible fast food stories. This anthology book is a lesson in all the things people don’t want to know, but really, really should.

Supersized: Strange Tales From A Fast-Food Culture

Written by Morgan Spurlock and Jeremy Barlow
Art by Lukas Ketner, Ron Chan, Lucas Marangon, and Tony Millionaire
Colours by Ronda Patinson, Dan Jackson, and Jim Campbell

The tales presented in this book are short, averaging about 3 pages each, and the rotating art teams make it all feel the same while still looking different. This is kind of like what would happen if Super Size Me meshed with Tales From The Crypt. These tales are purportedly true, and sent to Morgan since his film broke large. They are also the worst of what you hope never happens to your food between the freezer and your greasy wrapping paper. As someone who has worked in fast food, I can vouch for this type of behaviour occurring. It’s not the norm but it’s terribly difficult to stamp out.

Each tale is narrated by a morbidly obese clown who looks familiar, and a little more life real. He’s a creepy and loveable character and perfectly suited to fill the role of a Vault Keeper or Uncle Creepy. Seeing this character at the start instantly clues you in to the tone of the book – this is morbid curiosity and black humour.

The tales cover a glut of fast food issues from dirty and maggot filled food, to bodily fluids and extraneous extras gracing our meals, to animal cross contagion, and also just plain bad and dangerous service. The odds that you will be the person who finds a rotting snakehead in your healthy salad option or sucks down a mouthful of ants in your drink is slim but it’s still a scary thought. Then there are the dangers you might not spot, like the snot within the ingredients of your pizza or the server who licked his fingers between picking up piece of your order.

This book delivers like fast food snacks, the tales are short and they don’t waste any time. They get straight in, no need to develop character, they drop their punchline, and they shock you. Then it’s time for the next serving. It’s a smart story model and one that works to almost guarantee you’ll sit down and read this in one sitting. Some might think these tales are urban legends, or exaggerations, and other might know stories similar enough to see truth on the page. In the end, so long as it makes you think then the battle is being won. Between the gross tales, there are facts and stats from and around the movie that do not paint fast food in a pretty light. It’s a dirty business and one healthy people need to stay away from.

Lukas Ketner does a great job on art for this book because he makes everything look that shade nastier. His pages drip with fluid and worry and he is matching the tone and fact of these stories deliciously. Ron Chan’s pages are expressive and cut to the core of the fact it could be you in the story next. Lucas Marangon’s pages are the simplest of the bunch, effective but lacking character. Then there’s Tony Millionaire who does not appear often enough. His art is always a welcome addition to a book, it’s quirky and fun, and he does great work with the few stories he helms.

Verdict – Buy It. This is a small book, just under 90 pages, but it’s an informative and engaging read. Possibly not for the weak of stomach, this book will confront you with things you might not want to hear. It will be people who eat fast food who will not want to read this book but it is that group who must read this book. Any way that we can undercut their unhealthy ways is a good idea. Buy this book for a friend, or a waiting room table, and watch people slowly educate themselves. This isn’t just entertainment, it’s a catalogue of the things we all should know but don’t want to ask about.

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