Monday, 22 February 2016

I Hate Fairyland, Volume 1: Madly Ever After Review (Skottie Young, Jean-Francios Beaulieu)

Once upon a time, a little girl called Gertrude wished to visit a magical fantasy land - and then promptly found her wish granted! But when young Gertrude wished herself home, she discovered it not nearly as easy to leave Fairyland as it was to enter it… 

Twenty-seven years later - she’s still looking for the way out.

Physically Gertie remains the cute ten year-old girl she was when she arrived in Fairyland; mentally, she’s thirty-seven and has become very, very disenchanted with how her life has turned out. To be more accurate, she’s homicidally insane and she’s gonna take out her fury on everyone in Fairyland! 

Originally titled Fuck Fairyland, Skottie Young’s (more commercially viable title) I Hate Fairyland takes pure joy in wreaking havoc on the very notion of cutesiness and stuff for the kiddies. Young made his name on Marvel’s Oz series and drawing baby variant covers of its many superhero titles and this comic is like a reaction to those years of work where he creatively takes an axe to it all. I loved it, pure and simple. Cynicism be damned, this is entertaining as hell! 

The violence is so over-the-top crazy, it’s breath-taking. In the first issue, Gertie literally blows the moon’s head off before turning her sights to the stars in the sky! She robs a casino in Las Fungus before getting fucked up on ‘shrooms - except they’re the heads of the mushroom police she’s devouring! Young starts as he means to go on and the violence from that point is unrelentingly nutty and extremely graphic - she’s like a tiny Punisher! 

I loved the setup but was worried about the story to start with. Queen Cloudia decides to hire a hitman to protect her kingdom and kill Gertie once and for all and I thought that’d be a bit thin to last for the first arc. But I needn’t have worried because a much better storyline emerges after the first couple issues which really levels up the book. Then we get to that incredible finale and a genius final page that’ll have readers demanding that second volume right the fluff now! 

And the language in Fairyland is so good. No-one can swear - despite Gertie really wanting to - so her swears turn out like “muffin hugger” and “fluff you”. By far my favourite was “boppy top” which I’m now going to start using in everyday language. What a great non-swear! No clue what it means, I just like the sound. Boppy top. Hehe! 

The way Young leaves each issue on a cliffhanger which gets instantly resolved on the first page of the next issue feels like he’s taking the piss out of the comics format in general which is funny. And I thought, maybe Gertie’s too powerful - there’s no tension as she’s never really in any danger? And I suppose that’s the only criticism about this comic, which is that it’s a bit shallow. But Gertie’s invincible because it’s too fun not to have her trashing Fairyland – that is the whole comic really! And actually Fairyland isn’t the sort of book that needs to be very deep. Seeing this mini terror wielding giant axes, massive guns, and flying dragons is all it needs to be and it is that in spades. 

I also really liked Gertie too. She’s definitely the bad guy of the book but I was still rooting for her. It’s sort of her fault that she’s been trapped in Fairyland for so long - she’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer - and that kind of vulnerability/comedy value makes her all the more likeable. 

I haven’t even mentioned the art which is the real star of the show. If you’re not familiar with this guy’s work, Skottie Young is a sensational artist who brings his A-game to every panel in this book. It’s very appealingly cartoonish which is Young’s style all over but done with a fiendish new twist given the extreme violence of the book. And Fairyland itself is so beautifully fleshed out and developed, this entire book is pure eye-candy. 

Young’s colourist from Oz, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, joins him in showing us the sheer beauty of Fairyland and his work on the colours can’t be understated. Young’s art is something else but it definitely wouldn’t have the same impact on the reader if it was in black and white. Beaulieu’s gorgeous, spectacular, vivid colours bring Fairyland to life. 

There’s so much detail here I haven’t mentioned that I enjoyed. Her sidekick, Larrigon Wentsworth III, a Tom Waits version of Jiminy Cricket, the Jabba-like Slug Lord’s epic rhyme, the Disney-esque narrators who get theirs, the scene where we see what Gertie would look like if she looked normal now, the zombie fauns, Lord Darketh Deaddeath, the green beard – they’re too good and there’s even more inside! You’ll see the awesomeness I’m talking about when you read the comic for yourselves - it’s so richly textured.

I highly recommend I Hate Fairyland - this comic is deliriously original and fluffing wonderful! Them boppy tops, Young and Beaulieu, done good - I Love Fairyland!

I Hate Fairyland, Volume 1: Madly Ever After

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