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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Worry Doll (Horror) (Graphic Novel)

by Matt Coyle

Publisher: Dover Publications (July 20, 2016)

Softcover, 80 pages  


“Nobody I know does line work- or evasive subject matter- like Matt Coyle His scenes are rendered with such deftness and precision in one of the most unforgiving of all drawing media, where the smallest error or fickle hesitation sings out like a scratched record. And just like the grooves of a record, Matt’s use of hatching, those fine parallel lines that delineate contour and tone, never lapse into cross-hatching (where lines intersect); its more forgiving offspring, which most illustrators, including myself, gladly fall upon when things get wooly. It’s a technique that brings to mind those arts since lost to industrial and digital processes… the secrets were often guarded by practitioners, as if by a guild of magicians.”
I included the above paragraph by Shaun Tan from the introduction of this book describing the incredible art by Matt Coyle because he says it better than I ever could. One glance at the art inside this volume sends shivers down your spine at the sheer talent involved to create these images.

I encountered Coyle’s work way back in the 1990s when I ran across his first graphic novel, The Registry of Death, while scavenging in a fifty cents bin at Mid-Ohio Con. I was immediately struck by the story and art. Brutal and beautiful at the same time. It is a gorgeous example of grotesque beauty. Why it was not heralded as one of the best graphic novels of that year, I will never know- poor marketing I guess. The book still remains one of my favorite horror comics. After you get this book, check out that one.
The term “worry doll” comes from the ancient Mayans in the Guatemalan highlands. Traditionally when children are scared or have nightmares, they are given worry dolls before they go to sleep. They put them under the pillow and when they wake up, their worries are gone. Knowing this will give you a different take on the action in this story. And you might need it, because what is actually happening in this tale is up in the air.
There are easily multiple interpretations of the action. It is a mirror for yourself and how you interpret the images and words in this book reflects as much on who you are as a person as it does on the material presented. My suggestion is to approach it as you would a Beckett play and let the emotions and sensations presented by the words and images wash over you. Let them carry you along with the current, as it were, and then you will reach a satisfactory conclusion. Maybe not one of absolute fact, but an emotional ending.

Ostensibly it's about a group of dolls (actual dolls) who discover that they family they are with have been murdered. They go on an increasingly bizarre odyssey where reality blurs back and forth. What do they represent? The killer’s lack of emotion, or the dark places of the mind where he sticks his conscience? The souls of the murdered family? Or are the representations of demonic influence or the evil impulses that dwell in all me?
You tell me. I think all are valid interpretations. They cross the line from the real to the sublime. What’s your opinion?

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

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