Joey has everything going for her as she gets ready to begin law school, but first, she has to spend the summer with her upper-class boyfriend’s family. Of course, there’s something up with this upper-class world — just don’t ask the help about it.
Eat the Rich #1
Pius Bak (artist), Sarah Gailey (writer), Cardinal Rae (letterer), Roman Titov (colorist), Kevin Tong (cover artist)
August 18, 2021
Eat the Rich #1 starts off like any other “rich guy takes anxious middle-class girlfriend home to meet the parents” story. Joey’s anxiety is evident from the start, with Cardinal Rae’s tight, italicized lower case narration boxes amplifying her nervousness as she thinks over her boyfriend Astor’s babble on the drive to Crestfall Bluffs. She gets a momentary reprieve when Astor, in a fit of his own anxiety, reveals that he’s extremely worried about returning home sober for the first time in years. It allows Joey a moment to shift her focus onto caring for Astor’s mental state instead — but this doesn’t last for long.
For the rest of the issue, Astor deftly slots into the role of a privileged rich boy who has not prepared his girlfriend for the intricacies of this lifestyle, waving away any of her concerns and anxiety. This isn’t a new role. We’ve seen it in other fictional stories, such as Crazy Rich Asians. And we have seen it in real life with Prince Harry not bothering to tell Meghan Markle that she had to curtsy to the queen — a simple etiquette detail that is commonplace to one growing up in the royal family. Thankfully, Markle had Fergie to support her, understanding what it means to step into this society. But Joey has no such support. When she steps away from the oppressive surroundings of a luxurious lifestyle that she can’t even begin to comprehend, she finds that she does not have a sympathetic ear from Petal, the resident nanny. “We’re downstairs people. If you forget that, you will fail,” explains Petal coldly when Joey again offers to help the help.
While we’ve seen all of these story elements before, Eat the Rich #1 does have some twists up its sleeve that it quietly begins to layer on as soon as Astor and Joey arrive at the mansion. The cover gives us a taste of what’s on the menu, but artist Pius Bak gives us sneaky little panel moments that speak of darker things. Combined with Rae’s lettering, Joey’s distress is tangible through the expressions and body language Pak gives her. Pak also uses subtle angle and perspective work to create power dynamics that often result in everyone, including the help, looking down on Joey, giving the sense of her being smaller, inside and out. Baleful glares, sidelong or gazing down at her, add to the ominous vibe. Shading isn’t typically used on the faces, so Roman Titov steps in with colour to enhance that vibe, often with chilling blues.
With this first issue, writer Sarah Gailey makes it clear that this isn’t your typical rich-boy-middle-class girl romance, but they rely on the basic elements of this concept to get this story moving quickly into the horror and intrigue it promises. Will Joey end up as a side dish? Or will she pull herself together and find out what rich people taste like?