Author: Pénélope Bagieu
Rating: ★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: Zoe isn’t exactly the intellectual type, which is why she doesn’t recognize world-famous author Thomas Rocher when she stumbles into his apartment…and into his life. It’s also why she doesn’t know that Rocher is supposed to be dead. Turns out, Rocher faked his death years ago to escape his critics, and has been making a killing releasing his new work as “lost manuscripts,” in cahoots with his editor/ex-wife Agathe. Neither of them would have invited a crass party girl like Zoe into their literary conspiracy of two, but now that she’s there anyway. . . . Zoe doesn’t know Balzac from Batman, but she’s going to have to wise up fast… because she’s sitting on the literary scandal of the century!
Huge thank you to First Second for this ARC!
Exquisite Corpse is an oddball of a graphic novel because it’s seeing a romantic comedy in comics is not common. Interestingly though, this comic is not entirely what it seems on the surface either. Every person ins this story is vile, some what disgusting in terms of being a human being, and yet it also a huge part of the comic’s charm as well.
Zoe is desperate for a man to sweep her off her feet and provide for her. She hates her job, current boyfriend, and wants someone to adore her. Thomas Rocher is a famous author who lives and dies on positive review feedback. The two of them meet by chance, and they in turn have an exceptionally messy relationship. Like, it’s just baaaaaaad.
There’s not a lot of characters in this graphic novel, and it’s actually for the better. Both these characters want someone’s approval and praise, living for their own life’s show and demanding the world give them in some ways what they are entitled to. Obviously, Bagieu shows the readers how ridiculous that concept is, so it makes for some very frustrating characters. In a lot of ways, both Zoe and Thomas ultimately get what they deserve, though, I have to say, the twist ending, though I saw it coming, was really well done, and the revenge that takes place in the story is really well timed and just messed up.
My favourite character was actually Agathe, if only because I loved her backstory to her relationship with Thomas and how even though her and Zoe get off on the wrong foot, they oddly come together in their distaste for Thomas. While a lot of the comic looks at issues of attention, entitlement and approval, it’s something Bagieu gives the readers connections to. Let’s face it, many of us have met a Zoe, Thomas or Agathe in our lives, and they aren’t easy people to tolerate.
Exqusite Corpse is different, and not an easy graphic novel to read. The content is solid, the art is gorgeous, but these characters will likely disgust you, or you might see something you may not be ready for. Regardless, I think the comic teaches some interesting lessons, and I feel like there’s a lot to uncover about human nature and desire, simply by reading this book.