Advance Review: ‘Doodleville’ Charms Its Way Into Your Heart

by James Ferguson

Everyone doodles every now and then, whether you’re stuck on a call or waiting for something. Drew does it all the time, only her Doodles have minds of their own. They come off the page and get into all sorts of mischief. This causes some trouble at the local art museum as well as with her friends and their drawings. Why won’t Drew grow up and draw something big? That’s where Levi, the Leviathan comes in and things go haywire.

Doodleville from Chad Sell is an utterly charming coming-of-age story. I’d compare it to Inside Out in that specific time period in one’s life where you’re transitioning from a child to a young adult. Drew is super happy with her doodles, even if they do get a little too excited sometimes, but she’s pressured to draw more mature things like her friends in art club. They’re creating super heroes and ready to take on the world and she’s still just doodling.

The great message in Doodleville is that that is totally ok! You should draw what makes you happy and if that’s doodles, then so be it! While that is the obvious destination, the path Sell takes is fascinating and a great deep dive into what this means on a personal level. Drew explores her feelings about growing up, fitting in, and doing what’s right for her all while learning about the power of friendship. I realize that might sound a little corny, but Doodleville is anything but.

Much of this comes through in Sell’s artwork. It’s adorable and fun from the very beginning. Drew is a plucky kid full of life and energy and that shines through in her appearance and her doodles. Each one represents an aspect of her personality. Even when she tries to create something big and scary it comes through as cartoonish and happy. That says a lot about who she is as a person.

Later on, when Levi turns to the dark side, we get a riveting look at how she deals with fear, stress, and anxiety. It manifests in a more menacing creation that could tear apart everything she’s created. Drew has to learn that it’s ok to be scared sometimes. It’s what you do after that that matters.

The doodles and the creations from the other kids have a unique style that differentiates them from the rest of the artwork in Doodleville. They have the look and feel of childlike wonder, playing with ideas like super heroes, witches, and robots.

One thing that’s a little odd about Doodleville is how everyone has no surprise to the artwork coming to life. This is never explained so you just kind of go with it. I was a little confused by this at first, but since no one acknowledged how strange this was, I just figured this was normal for this world. It doesn’t need an explanation since it’s just one of the rules of this place.

Doodleville is a super special comic. It teaches some valuable lessons about emotions and friendship through the lens of rambunctious little doodles. It’s a fun book that anyone that’s ever day dreamed or absentmindedly drawn on a napkin or envelope will greatly enjoy.

Doodleville from Random House Graphic is set for release on June 9th, 2020. It is currently available for pre-order at your local bookstore and Amazon.

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