Doodleville, Volume 1 by Chad Sell, 288 pp, RL 4
Doodleville, Volume 1
by Chad Sell
Review copy from RH Graphic
Drew loves to draw. As Doodleville opens, we see drew over the years, happily drawing the day away in a booth at her parents' diner. When Drew is five, the her drawings wander off her page and onto the wall of the diner, surprising a regular who also happens to be a supporter of the arts. When Drew is nine, she cuts a massive swath of paper off the roll of butcher paper hanging from the diner wall and creates an entire town, filled with homes for her creations, and calls it . . . Doodleville! Doodleville becomes both a solace and a challenge to Drew as she works on her artistic and social skills.
An Art Club field trip to the Art Institute turns troublesome when Drew the Doodles escape from the pages of her sketchbook and run amok through the paintings of Degas, Van Gogh, Monet and Hopper, to name a few. Before Drew can get all the Doodles back into her book, they have stollen a hat from a baby in a painting and Drew has been chastised by a museum docent for thinking her "scribbles have any place in the halls of this institute!"
Drew finds herself in even more trouble when, back at Art Club where the kids are all creating their own superheroes and the realms that they live in, the Doodles escape again and run wild through the drawings of Drew's club members, inspiring the superheroes to leap of the page and see some action as well. Ameer and his Captain Cockatoo, Beck and his creation, sci-fi-inventor-extraordinaire Dina Dare, and Zenobia, creator of the Magical Butterfly Boyfriends superheroes, find the action exciting, while TJ and her witchy Bru are not so happy. Hoping to meet the brief of the Art Club assignment and create something more like the rest of the club, Drew creates Levi, short for Leviathan, a cheerful, playful serpentine creature that, she learns too late, has a dark side.
Drew's inner turmoil and social-emotional challenges with her friends parallel the evolution of Levi from friendly new inhabitant of Doodleville to a villain threatening Captain Cockatoo, Dina Dare, Bru and the Magical Butterfly Boyfriends. Drew struggles to reign in her emotions/Levi, but when Doodleville is ravaged, the Art Club comes to the rescue, their superheroes partnering with Drew's doodles to find a creatively collaborative (non-violent) way to feed the darkness that is Levi.
Sell, creator of the superb The Cardboard Kingdom (which returns in 2021 with a sequel!) continues to bring diversity to the page in Doodleville, from racial and gender presentation to use of pronouns in kids and superheroes alike!