Brave Chef Brianna is a new all-ages comic miniseries out today from Boom Studios. The four-issue series, written by Sam Sykes with art by Selina Espiritu and colors by Bridget Underwood, follows the journey of Brianna Jakobsson. Fresh out of culinary school, with a famous master chef for a father and 15 chef brothers, Brianna moves to a new city to open her own restaurant. And not just any city: Monster City, where human food isn’t exactly something the locals are used to.
With Jiji from Kiki’s Delivery Service making a cameo on the cover of the first issue, it’s not hard to guess that readers will be entering a whimsical world that, like Studio Ghibli’s settings, is both familiar and strange. “Brave Chef Brianna definitely sits at the intersection of normal everyday life and the fantastic world of magic that Kiki’s Delivery Service also occupies,” says series creator Sam Sykes.
And Jiji isn’t the only familiar face keen eyes can spot. “One of my favorite games is looking through the pages done by [artist] Selina [Espiritu] or the covers done by [cover artist] Bridget [Underwood] and seeing which monsters I recognize,” Sykes says. “I hope readers will enjoy hunting for them, too!”
It may be a city of monsters, but its inhabitants are not scary, even for younger readers. The creatively designed monsters are loosely based on real animals and a range of cultures and mythology. “A lot of our monster designs come from ancient myths from around the world,” Sykes says. “We have cyclopes frat bros, Dullahan angry customers, and Brianna’s own rival is a Lamia.”
But choosing to live in such an incredible place isn’t just what makes Brianna brave (although that is literally a bold move). “Brianna’s true strength is overcoming her own anxieties,” says Sykes. “She’s working not just to be a great chef, but to prove to her family and herself that she belongs with them, that she’s the great chef she was supposed to be.”
Anyone who has struggled with self-doubt and anxiety, no matter their age, can identify with the young chef. “Brianna’s struggles are myriad, but the one that it really comes down to is learning to find out what makes you happy, versus what everyone thinks happiness should be,” says Sykes. “Bravery is not interchangeable with victory and Brave Chef Brianna is all about figuring out what it means to be successful versus what it means to be happy.”
Brave Chef Brianna is on comic book store shelves today from Boom Studios.
All Images © Boom Studios