Hey gang! Hope you’re ready for another week of comic nerd-ery, featuring sunshine, candy and… murder? Hoo boy, we’ve got ourselves a doozy this week – I picked up Madly Ever After, volume 1 of I Hate Fairyland, written and drawn by Skottie Young (Rocket Raccoon, Wizard of Oz). Skottie is a pretty prominent artist these days – every second Marvel issue seems to have a variant cover drawn by him. I Hate Fairyland is the first book of his that I’ve actually had the opportunity to read something with his full involvement.
Drawn into Fairyland when she was six years old, Gertrude was caught up in a quest to recover the key to the Fairyland door. Desperate to return home to the real world, she agreed to the endeavour, and set out to recover the key with the aid of her guide, a talking green fly named Larry. That was 27 years ago. Gert, now a fully grown woman trapped in the body of a 6 year old, is well and truly sick of being stuck in Fairyland. Existing on a diet of sugar and alcohol, Gert has become a foul-mouthed, violent misanthrope, who spends her time brawling, swearing and rampaging through Fairyland on a never-ending bender. When the Queen of Fairyland, Claudia, decides that it’s time to remove Gert from her new home – violently – Gert isn’t having a dime of it, and all of Fairyland is going to tremble at her wrath.
I gotta say, I was pleasantly surprised by I Hate Fairyland. My previous exposure to Skottie Young’s work pretty much began and ended with his Marvel covers, and I really wasn’t a fan of his art style in that context. I Hate Fairyland is the perfect vehicle for it, though – Young’s irreverent dialogue and heavily stylised artwork blend into an over-the-top, hyper-colourful smorgasbord of violence that is as charming as it is hilarious. One of my favourite aspects of the book definitely has to be the dialogue – given her especially dour personality and stunted education, Gert has had to be especially creative when it comes to insults, coming up with some hilarious results like “mother fluffer” and “eat a dip”.
While Fairyland seems to be a pleasant, colourful wonderland, Gert’s very presence basically makes it into a battleground, and it makes for some great scenes– everywhere she goes, violence erupts, and the poor Narrator’s Guild is losing members by the dozen – any character that stops to explain the ongoing story is quickly and brutally murdered by Gert. Young has taken the traditional “hero’s journey” trope and twisted it into something far darker and infused with a kind of dark humour that made me fall in love with fellow fantasy story Rat Queens a while back.
While Young really capitalises on the over-the-top nature of the story for his artwork, I do think it’s a bit overdone in places – in simpler scenes, his heavily stylised linework works really well, but in more complex scenes – for example, crowds – the bright colours and caricatures make it a little visually overwhelming. That being said, the whole book is pretty much a neon-coloured whirlwind of death, so I think “visually overwhelming” is kind of part of the whole deal.
Minor gripes aside, I Hate Fairyland is a really enjoyable book, and I highly recommend it – dive in, and enjoy the ride.
Written by Alastair McGibbon