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Worry Doll Review: A Graphic Masterpiece from Matt Coyle

Posted by Sophia Horn on July 29, 2016

The Breakdown

Worry Doll is a graphic masterpiece written and illustrated by Matt Coyle, co-author of the 1996 graphic novel Registry of Death. Worry Doll was originally published in 2007, but has now been re-released as a new edition with an added foreword by Shaun Tan, known for works such as The Arrival and The Lost Thing.

Elevator Pitch

While at first glance Worry Doll appears to be a children’s book, it’s actually a mature and terrifying tale of three dolls who embark on murderous rampage. The illustrations from front-to-back are detailed in ways that leave you both mesmerized and horrified. Matt Coyle’s Gothic Noir inspired graphic novel is non-traditional and not for the faint-hearted.

The Verdict

After the first read, I wasn’t exactly sure what I just experienced. So, I decided to study the graphic novel again five more times…but my mind still cannot fully comprehend what I was reading.

And I absolutely love it with a passion.

The story and illustrations all feel like a terrible nightmare that keeps replaying through your head in a wild attempt to make sense of it all. The reader is able to take full control of what they believe is reality due to the plot leaving much to the imagination.

The Whole Story

Worry Doll is a graphic novel structured in children’s book format. It is simply one page of modest text next to a fully illustrated page. Somehow this format added to the disturbing tale of these three dolls embarking on various graphic, horrid activities. It is remarkable how Matt Coyle can create so much confusion and paranoia through small, quaint chunks of text on every other page.

The story revolves around the main character and narrator, a Golliwog doll. This doll is accompanied by a ventriloquist dummy and a rag doll.

In the beginning, the doll is innocently describing himself and characteristics to the ventriloquist dummy, but the details of his personality slowly takes a twist in describing tales of murder and his need to kill.

The transition between simple descriptions of normal traits into psychopathic tendencies happens so quickly that it can be overlooked.

From that point, as you explore the mind of a murderer, the storyline abounds with twists and turns. Eventually, you realize that you don’t know who this “doll” is and why they’re telling their tale of brutality. At this point, it leaves the reader second guessing if this is just a gruesome fictional story of dolls or something far more disturbing.

If the written context isn’t enough, Coyle’s illustrations are beyond amazing. I found myself stopping to stare at a single page of illustration for what felt like years. They are all beautifully hand-drawn and horrifically realistic. Each drawing has so much detail and contain an abundance of the story and clues. Each illustration builds on itself through each reading, so much so that the imagery during the first read-through feels like a vague memory trying to be pieced together.

The Details

This graphic novel deserves all of the attention. After getting my hands on this gem, I still cannot get the imagery of terrifying little slaughtering dolls out of my head. I highly recommend this piece if you are interested in that happening to you. Thanks for that, Matt Coyle!

The graphic novel is so pleasing to the eye and is definitely one to add to any collection. Worry Doll can be ordered and previewed through Dover Comics and Graphic Novels.

To keep up with Coyle or to view some of his other amazing work, check out his personal website to get your fill.

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About Sophia Horn

A lover of all things nerdy, Sophie is generally found perusing comic book shops or googling the nearest donut spots. Impassioned Star Wars conversations, nostalgic retro gaming, and discussing old-school hip hop as if it was fine wine are some of her favorite things.

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