Review: I Hate Fairyland (2015-’18) by Skottie Young

This comic is based on the idea that if Dorothy had been forced to stay in the fairyland of the Wizard of Oz, then after 27 years those characters would really have gotten on her nerves. I can’t blame her, because the comic itself got on my nerves as well, but the first volume was great fun.

Gertrude is 6 years old when she wishes to be transported to fairyland and her wish is granted. All she has to do is find a special key to unlock the door back to the normal world. She even gets a little travel companion, Larry, a fly with a magic hat. Unfortunately, after 27 years, Gertrude still hasn’t found the key. And the rules of fairyland are that guests like Gertrude cannot be hurt or killed. Her body doesn’t age so she still looks 6 years old, but inside she is a 30+ cynical, vengeful, violent woman whose only pleasure left in life is to butcher all those annoying fairyland creatures that get in her way. Larry the fly is middle aged now, smoking cigarettes nonstop. Now Cloudia, the queen of fairyland, is cooking up plans to get rid of her.

Gertrude is, in her words, forever teetering on the edge of a riddle-induced psychotic break and the dark abyss of diabetic coma, and her days are filled with endless amounts of bright colours no human eye should have to take in. And that’s sort of what it feels like to read this series. But in a good way. The story is fast-paced, ever unpredictable and doesn’t take itself seriously. But the main draw is the art. Here I have to give praise to the colorist, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, because those drawings really pop. Skottie Young’s art is also endlessly inventive and his fairyland is full of strange fairytale creatures and beautifully realised environments. This book is begging for an adaptation, but it won’t be as stirring as the comic.

The art is also the main draw here, because the edgy comedy isn’t really working for me. A young girl as a trigger-happy antihero with an axe cutting up goblins all the time doesn’t get much of a reaction out of me. Some of the jokes are just references to well-known properties like Game of Thrones, which get worse in the second volume, and there is the thing where she is cursing all the time but the curses are censored and replaced by cutesy words like fluff and spell and muffin hugger. Which, well, I don’t find any of it particularly funny. And the story is so random and haphazard that story arcs are restricted to little ten-page chapters with the freedom to throw every storyline overboard at a moment’s notice. So what is left to draw me in is the energetic drawings and huge imagination on the pages.

But that imagination also gradually runs out of steam in the next volumes. Gertrude ends up in a game world and in a fairyland expo-con and a Japan-themed village and by then it feels like the writer is reaching for cheaper ideas to fill the pages. The first two volumes were all originality but the well is now running dry. The dialogue also starts to incorporate more and more internet-speak, hyper-sarcasm and over-explaining its own jokes, and seems to go on and on as scenes are stretched out. It all ends with a whimper in the fourth volume.

I Hate Fairyland, the series as a whole, is like a bright flame that burned itself out fairly quickly. I recommend the first volume but every subsequent release was a step down in quality when it comes to comedy and originality. The art stays pretty strong throughout.

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7 Responses to Review: I Hate Fairyland (2015-’18) by Skottie Young

  1. bormgans says:

    Just looking at the cover told me this was nothing for me. It´s very personal, but I’m put off buy the way the main character´s face, I generally don´t like that drawing style, a bit like French cartoons.

    I can your remark on the colours and the overal quality of the art however.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bormgans says:

    That´s cheap indeed!

    Like

  3. Bookstooge says:

    Sorry this series ended on a sour note for you.

    Liked by 1 person

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