Comics · Queer

A to Z: Dolltopia

Dolltopia Abby Denson coverAnd now we’ve arrived at an indie comic! Dolltopia by Abby Denson, from Green Candy Press in 2006. You may know Abby Denson from Cool Japan Guide, Tough Love, or some issues of comics like Powerpuff Girls and Josie and the Pussycats. I didn’t know her at all, although I’ve randomly seen her name several times since I read this comic!

It’s a strange book. Kind of like a queer Toy Story…? It’s about dolls who don’t want to play out the boring (and boringly gendered) lives they’re designed to live, so they escape and form Dolltopia. Overall it’s geared toward expressing your gender however you darn well please… The message seems straightforward, “it’s okay to be different,” but in practice it gets weird. It’s hard to tell what the author meant to be positive and what was meant to be negative. For instance, it’s very judgmental toward dolls with traditional gender expressions. So, that might be a good thing in that the characters are more nuanced than you might expect. The book may well be making a purposeful comment on how some LGBT+ folks get disdainful of the mainstream. There’s also a lot about surgery, though, replacing doll parts with other dolls’ parts, and it’s kind of creepy. Is it supposed to be pro-surgery or anti-surgery? Maybe it’s both. Maybe it’s tempering the “be yourself” message with “no one else should pressure you into things.”

The takeaway is that it’s an interesting book and worth a read. You might even keep your kids in mind, since it’s a fun color scheme, not overtly mature-themed, and might give them something to think about re: what makes a “girl” doll and a “boy” doll — I just suggest you do read it first, because of the reasons above.

As a bonus recommendation, the whole time I was reading Dolltopia it was reminding me of Fox Bunny Funny  — a wordless graphic novel from Andy Hartzell and Top Shelf Productions in 2007. The idea there is the foxes are violent, oppressing and eating the bunnies, but the main character secretly wants to be a bunny, eventually going through an operation to that effect and joining a utopian society of mixed foxes and bunnies. It’s pretty twisted and gruesome, but there’s a happy ending? Sort of? If anyone else has ever read either of these books, I’d love to know what you thought they were saying!

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14 thoughts on “A to Z: Dolltopia

  1. Both of these sound pretty awesome, I’ll have to take a look. We talk about toys and gender roles in my class, and a lot of times it turns out students have never thought about them in those terms before.

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Epics from A to Z
    MopDog – 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

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  2. Thanks for a very interesting post. Nothing like a “queer Toy Story” to pique one’s interest. 🙂 I enjoyed the breezy yet, informative style of your writing. As I read your post, it felt as though we were chatting over coffee about some really cool books. So, thanks for sharing your insights, I always appreciate learning about new, interesting books. I am a teacher and am writing on an education theme for A2Z so, feel free to pop on over if you are so inclined.

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  3. It might be interesting… crazy bunches of stuff… is it like or Anime?

    Welcome in the letter “D”… thank you!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2015]

    There’s no earthly way of knowing.
    Which direction we are going!

    HOLLYWOOD NUTS!
    Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood… is Nuts?

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  4. Ooh this looks really cool! Interesting how it’s a nuanced mix of positive and negative commentary. Fox Bunny Funny sounds engaging too–a wordless graphic novel! I can’t even imagine, but I suppose that’s part of its appeal.

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    1. Thanks! I just really don’t know what to make of either of them.

      Oh gosh the wordless ones are my favorites! They usually tend toward the “cute,” like both of these, even when the content is much more mature. But I love wordless picture books, too. My favorite of all time is the Owly comic series by Andy Runton — so sweet, so Winnie the Pooh-ish, all ages. They make me so happy I can’t even be hyperbolic about them.

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