Comics Features

REVIEW: Young, Talented… Exploited

Young, Talent… Exploited is a comic about advertising and not about what you’re thinking about. Clean your dirty mind, god. Cyndi Barbero‘s tale of a young graphic designer trapped in the perpetual purgatory of internships is hilarious and achingly relatable. Anyone who’s graduated into the uncertain job market (or preparing to do so) will find lots of truth here.

Cyndi’s poor intern graduates from college, ready to leap into the world of employment. But people are only hiring interns. So intern she does. She quickly finds herself in the manic hell of the advertising world, where two personalities hold sway: The Sales Manager (who’s stressed out, perpetually over-promising clients, and rushing the creatives) and The Artistic Director (who’s overworked, burned out, and probably running on some illicit substances). Despite being an intern, our hero often finds herself staying up til 2 am to complete work and showing up unannounced at her friend’s flat to sleep in the city because she can’t get home. Worst of all, despite her hard work, nobody seems willing to hand her that Holy Grail: a full-time job.

Cyndi’s art style is a classic Western style, with big eyes and detailed expressions. Her characters often only have a few colors, and to illustrate an intense mood, like sadness or anger, she’ll just use reds or blues to color them, thereby heightening the emotion. There’s no panel borders, but the images are laid out in an intuitive way, so there’s no struggle in understanding them. In fact, with only two or three “panels” per page, the book breezes along. The amount of white space on the page is a bit jarring at first, but after the first few pages, I went along in total immersion.

After an intro chapter that lasts a few pages, most of the graphic novel is one-page jokes with a standard setup-punchline combo that you’d see in most online or newspaper comics. There’s even a “Choose Your Own Adventure” bit about going to eat with the older, employed coworkers. All together, these one-page jokes create the whole world the intern lives in, from work to friends to grumpy janitors trying to turn the lights out at night while she’s still working.


Anyone who’s dealt with the weirdness of corporate culture will strongly relate to Young, Talented…Exploited. It’s clear that Cyndi Barbero’s used many of her own experiences for a basis in these comics, and it’ll be interesting to see how the comic evolves after she’s got a few more years in the industry under her belt. There’s plenty of sequel options possible. A quarter life crisis, a three-eighths life crisis, a midlife crisis. Corporate culture is a never-ending well for cynical comedy.

So, if you’re looking for a charming, funny, and relatable comic, check out Young, Talented…Exploited. Cyndi Barbero’s comic shows off her sharp wit and unique art style. You can see more at her site, which has a mix of comics in the original French and translated English.

What do you think of Cyndi Barbero’s Young, Talented…Exploited? Are you trapped in the endless hell of internships and unemployment? Sound off in the comments or on Twitter!

About the author

Tommy Partl