By Skottie Young & Jean-Francois Beaulieu
For the past twenty-seven years, child Gertrude has been wandering throughout the magical realms of Fairyland in search of the Key which will lead her home. See, she was sucked out of her cozy bedroom and stranded in this colorful world of delights. During the course of her quest she has seen many wild sights and run afoul of a few strange creatures. Her mind has been aged by the experience if her body has not grown a day older. Yeah, it is odd. Gertrude’s patience ran out long ago, replaced by the quick-tempered rage of a woman who just wants a night of peace in her own bed. Is that too much to ask? Apparently yes, as Gertrude and her guide Larry make no progress in their journey, unless by progress, you measure the number of dismembered, bloody corpses that Gertrude leaves in her wake.
This is the premise behind Skottie Young’s first creator-owned title, I Hate Fairyland. He has taken the framework of the traditional child’s tale and twisted it around several times until it bleeds rather copiously. Gertrude has not only a short fuse, but a violent one as well. Her initial reaction to any dilemma is to chop her way through it, preferably with as much G-rated profanity as possible. She is definitely a spirited individual who refuses to take no for an answer, even from the Queen of Fairyland. This headstrong attitude makes her a compelling protagonist, as well as one who is easy to cheer for. Sure she may be a bit vulgar, but you would be too after nearly three decades in this place.
Speaking of which, the landscape of Fairyland is a character entirely in its own right. From a space full of floating mirrors to Pillopolis to the castle in the midst of the Red Sea, Young fills the pages with fantastical designs. Young has clearly taken his time illustrating his world, even for spaces only glimpsed for a panel or two. This is a book which rewards the sharp-eyed reader, as its pages are full of loving detail. Young mixes his distinctive cartoonish style with an adult sensibility that never feels forced or out-of-place. Indeed the blend is an invigorating one, lending his art a lively quality. Young renders the action dynamically, while still filling the panels with deadpan sight gags.
These jokes often involve the put-upon Larry, usually glimpsed hovering nearby, puffing on a cigar stub. Larry is ostensibly Gertrude’s guide, though, how gifted he is in this department is up for debate. What is not, however, is his hilarious deadpan voice. He speaks with a world-weary monotone that suggests he is way too old for this pluff. He is the know-it-all wiseass who shares observations along the lines of “giant evil doors that open on their own should never be walked through.” He could not care less about his job, yet, it is still his job. So he carries on. It is a great piece of character work which also serves as a good example of Fairyland’s humor on a whole. This is after all an issue that opens with Larry shooting the latest plucky, unlucky representative of the Narrators Guild.
When reviewing the debut issue, I observed that maintaining momentum of fast-paced insanity can be rather tricky. This week’s installment demonstrates that Young is doing an excellent job of keeping up the momentum. At the same time, he is able to skewer the tropes of children’s literature without descending into shock for shock’s sake. Instead, he has crafted a comic full of imagination, humor and shlock. It is simply a lot of fun.
Which is why it is my fluffin’ Finest.