In 2004 documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock went on a diet of nothing but McDonald’s for one month. His film “Super Size Me” (which can be seen on his website) followed his health during that month and took a scathing look at America’s fast-food culture and industry. Supersized is a companion graphic novel, which has some stories from the film, but which also adds new horror tales given to Spurlock by fans in the years since the documentary was released.
Supersized: Strange Tales from a Fast-Food Culture
Authors: Morgan Spurlock and Jeremy Barlow; Artists: Lukas Ketner, Ron Chan, Lucas Marangon, and Tony Millionaire
Dark Horse, March 2011, ISBN 978-1-59582-511-7
88 pages, $12.99
Supersized is not for the weak-stomached reader. Spurlock, Barlow and the artists spare no details when discussing the maggots, ants, snot, rats, lizards, body parts, plastics, etc. that end up in the food bought at fast-food and chain restaurants. This is a great idea, as it certainly gets the attention of readers who might not otherwise pick up a book about the food industry in the United States. The creators give readers a number of truly horrifying facts and details, enough to encourage anyone to aim for locally grown, minimally processed food or at least to encourage everyone to think twice about eating at chains. However, there are no citations for where these facts and details were obtained, which is the one true failing of the work. This is the librarian in me talking, but when I’m reading a non-fiction work–especially one with a clear agenda–I want to know how the creators came by their information.
The artistic side of Supersized is in capable hands. Though it is always chancy to use multiple artists in a single volume, here it works well. All of the artists are skilled in the kind of realism needed in a nonfiction work (though there is one very wonky map of the United States which should have been edited better). By switching artists regularly, the book keeps to a brisk pace. This pace, combined with extremely realistic and extremely gross images and a snarky sense of humor makes this a perfect fit for older teenage boys and young men, the type of readers who might not otherwise be interested in a seemingly serious topic. School and public librarians will want to find sources for more information, since the book does not provide any, in case patrons want to learn more after reading this thought-provoking, if thin, work.
This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Dark Horse Comics.