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Dolltopia

Dolltopia

Abby Denson continues exploring the themes of fitting in and coming out she tackled in Tough Love: High School Confidential, only with more symbolism in Dolltopia.

Kitty is a ballerina doll who wants to take charge of her own life instead of being manipulated by others. She and a renegade soldier doll set out for Dolltopia, where they can be themselves. They learn to appreciate their independence, their unwillingness to fit in, and their unique fashion sense. Dolls who aren’t happy with a prepackaged life of consumerism join them, engage in body modification, fight humans and their pets, and struggle to understand why other dolls don’t want to join them.

Dolltopia

Denson’s art style is similar to that used in Tough Love, resembling flat paper dolls, as though a high school girl is doodling in her notebook. I appreciate different approaches, but this one is a bit too simplistic for me. Most panels are head or mid-body shots, with little flow between panels. It’s as though she’s drawing pictures of dolls instead of comic storytelling. Page layout is as basic as can be. It’s hard to notice different expressions — which does make plastic dolls an excellent choice for subject matter. The black-and-white-and-neon pink, as shown on the cover, is eye-catching and also well-suited to the material.

Denson’s works are simple fables to encourage tolerance, best suited for a young teen audience. The characters frequently tell each other what’s happening, things the reader already knows, and explicitly state the messages of the piece. The points are obvious to the older: dolls as symbols for conformity, with those who’ve broken away preaching to each other that “Freedom of choice can be scary” and “we are lucky to be different. We’re better!”

The young outsider may appreciate the reinforcement that they’re not alone in how they feel; the older person, especially with a lifestyle alternative to the mainstream similar to the dolls, may find this an enjoyably camp trifle. Note that there isn’t a satisfying ending; instead, the story stops at a hopeful but inconclusive point. The dolls set out to solve another crisis facing them, but we aren’t shown the eventual results.



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