Thursday, July 3, 2008

Capsule Prize Reviews: She's Staring at Me

Like the little treasures in a gumball machine, here are mini-reviews of three titles celebrating the wide-eyed and wonderful.

Once upon a time, Blythe was an obscure 70s B-line doll, shunned for her eccentric looks. Along came Gina Garen, fairy godmother to a troupe of tiny plastic muses rescued from antique toy haunts. Blythe stole hearts and paved the way for an all-singing, all-dancing doll revival. This is Blythe is where it all began, dreamy vintage-toned photos that "embrace the rare and unique, the beautiful and funny qualities that are the true essence of who we are." See Blythe masquerading as produce, hailing a cab in a number reminiscent of Built by Hannah, and arguing with the angel and devil on her shoulders.

PhotobucketBig Eye Art: Resurrected and Transformed documents the rise of enormous eyes in pop surrealist portraits, from Margaret Keane to our own Gina Garan. Strange and eerie, cute and colorful, or whimsically subversive, Blonde Blythe introduces us to 22 big-eye-artists, who share what drew them to the style along with their best pieces. I heart Lisa Petrucci and her loving tributes to retro dollies with a modern twist, Misty Benson's gothic beauties with their insect collections and skeleton pets, and Elizabeth Victoria Knowles' surreal monsterscapes where miniature elephants frolic and Victorian poppets carve jack-o-lanterns.

Kitty Ballerina hasn't been the same ever since she traveled to Abby Denson's Dolltopia, a tiny city where toys can live and love as they please. After breaking free of her dream house and going AWOL with her new best friend, pacifist Army Jim, she finds herself questioning her identity and the nature of freedom, tempted by a whole new set of beauty standards, and ultimately willing to fight to bring more dolls to the light. It's deceptively simple and endlessly cute, and bonus, uber-queer-friendly. Hand it to your younger siblings till they're old enough for But I'm a Cheerleader, and then give them a hand with the ensuing Barbie makeovers.


*Gina Garan is webmistress of This is Blythe, your destination for everything you've ever wanted to know about the dolls, her photos, and their fandom
*Want more? Check out SuperJunk's Blythes and monsters running amock in an ultra-mod dollhouse , JamFancy's circus girls and forest elves run away from a theme park, and Boopsie Daisy's Technicolor dreamland
*Big Eyed Art Bonanza is your guide to vintage big-eye-art, with an upcoming print companion Big Eyed Masters
* Lisa Petrucci, Misty Benson, and Elizabeth Victoria Knowles all have online galleries--as does Blonde Blythe.
*Read the first issue of Dolltopia online
*Abby Denson, as well as creating several other excellent comics, pens a bi-weekly comic in The L Magazine dedicated to the "sweet and sugary wonders of NYC." Don't miss the past columns!
*Abby was a Lulu of the Year for 2007; read her interview with Friends of Lulu here


Elizabeth Victoria Knowles said...

Hi, thanks for the mention, glad you liked my work! I'm a big fan of "This is Blythe" too.

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