My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Corpse Talk is lovely. That’s an odd thing to say about a series of comics situated around the idea of the creator, Adam Murphy, interviewing various corpses that have been dug up. The corpses are all famous people such as Marie Antoinette, Henry VII, Nikola Tesla.
And it is lovely. It’s anarchic and wicked and pulls us straight into history. One of my favourite books ever is a book we’ve had in our household for a long time and it tells key points from history but in strip comics. It’s a brilliant book because of its simplicity and the fact that you get to see that these people are like you. They walk, they talk, and in the case of the comic talking about the Good Samaritan, have LOVELY horses. But I digress. Suffice to say, spinning history into comics is a good thing. It’s an accessible thing but it’s also a question of engagement. It’s about breaking down this idea that a topic is stiff and foreign and it’s about saying that it is actually something that matters and here’s a way for you to hook into these thousand and million year old stories.
Corpse Talk does all that and more. Each entry in the series, usually a page long but stretching into the odd double page spread the further you get into the collection, starts with Adam introducing the corpse and them waving to camera. So, for example, we get Mary Shelley doing a Gothic fonted Hello whilst in the background Adam holds his head and goes “You’re not going to talk like that all the time are you?” (Glorious. Witty and funny and proper dead (badumtish) good).
He then interviews each corpse about their life and so we have some flashback panels, where we get to see what the corpse actually looked like in real life. His corpse Einstein is perfect, corpsified and gross (tm Firefly) everywhere but his shock of wild white hair remains intact. There’s care taken with all the other characters too and each of their strips are introduced with a little headstone that differs according to each character. Mary Shelley has a little neckscrew working through hers (Frankenstein) which just made me have a intense moment of joy.
It’s a book of detail, really, of careful and clever and witty construction, that rewards rereads and spending time with. And his iteration of Marie Curie (and the pay off to her interview) is possibly the most brilliant thing I have read in comics for a while.