It’s difficult being a struggling actress in the age of social media. Fame feels so close yet still so far away, until the day you’re the one in the viral video. Everyone is Tulip, written by Dave Baker with art by Nicole Goux, follows one actress who finds herself in a dream situation of fame that might turn out to be more of a nightmare.
Becca felt lost in her Arizona town. She worked in fast food, lived with her drunken father, and was in a relationship she’d completely checked out of. So far, life in Hollywood doesn’t seem to be that much better. Picking up acting gigs here and there doesn’t pay the bills, so Becca works at a café and spends her free time obsessively looking at her phone for job opportunities and checking out who’s liked her most recent posts. She’s ready to give up when she answers an ad for a gig that asks “Is art a verb or a noun?” and her life takes an unexpected turn.
Paradox is a video artist who wants to evoke people through his works. Becca becomes his muse as they create a series of videos where Becca repeats the title phrase over and over, in elaborate ensembles and make-up, which instantly go viral. People recognize her on the street, she’s attending huge industry events, and she’s even being invited to audition for major roles. But fame isn’t all a dream and instead quickly turns into a nightmare. Her relationship with Paradox becomes physical, even though he only wants her to be Tulip. She doesn’t know who she can trust. No one can see her as anything beyond Tulip. Her life changed overnight, but was it for the better?
Everyone is Tulip is a story about internet culture, what it means to follow your dreams, and the fleeting nature of virality. The book deals with the ethics of art and who owns an idea. Unfortunately, this is explored at the very end of the story, leaving the reader with an ambiguous ending. Included in the back matter is an essay by Baker on the creators’ inspiration and why they’ve told this story. The story of the perils of fame is a familiar one, but Baker puts a very timely, modern spin on it.
Throughout the book are multiple spreads of Becca in her various Tulip costumes, with pages of what are essentially screenshots of the video. The art shines on these pages, with lots of inspired fashion. The color scheme of the book, done by Goux and Ellie Hall, is a highlight. The flashbacks to Becca’s life in Arizona are done in a muted, earthy tone, while her current life is brighter, with lots of pastel colors. The fashion Becca dons as Tulip jumps off the page.
While Everyone is Tulip is a book for adults, older teen readers may be drawn to this story of the dark side of influencers and internet fame. There is some nudity and sexual situations, as this is intended for an adult audience. Becca struggles with her body image, so that is discussed throughout the book, as well as brief mentions of disordered eating.
Everyone is Tulip is recommended for public libraries, where it can live on the adult shelves but still be available for some younger readers to check out. Readers who enjoy celebrity culture, as well as criticism of it, and learning more about the darker side of YouTube and social media are likely to enjoy this graphic novel.
Everyone is Tulip
By Dave Baker
Art by Nicole Goux, Ellie Hall
Dark Horse, 2021
Publisher Age Rating: 16+
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)