I Hate Fairyland #1 (Image Comics)
Release date: October 14
Plot Summary: Snarky, salty Gertrude is trapped in a rainbow world of bunnies and gumdrops… which makes her want to take a battle axe to anything that moves… Once upon a time this little girl fell into the magical world of Fairyland… and was stuck there for almost thirty years…
Dave: I like this story. It turns the tried-and-true tale of a kid entering a magical world on its head, but at the same time it’s simple. What if one of those little kids who entered the magical land were little monsters? Plus she’s trapped there so who wouldn’t lose their marbles?
Greg: My elevator pitch for this series would be “what if Alice never left Wonderland” (full disclosure: my Lewis Carroll reading experience doesn’t extend far beyond ‘Jabberwocky’). The fact that Gertrude is almost completely lost as she tries to find her way back home means that Skottie Young can take the story to whatever strange, wonderful places that his considerable imagination dreams up. But will readers want Gertrude as their travel companion?
Lisa: The concept of the story is clever. The writer has taken the old saying “be careful what you wish for” and brought it to life. Readers are reminded from the moment Gertrude “lands” that there are often conditions with getting what you want.
Dog: Thankfully, this was not the Kim Davis memoir I expected from the title. Much more entertaining and only half as gruesome. The “dark” fairy tale isn’t exactly innovative anymore, but there are enough nuances in the approach of a girl dreading her trip to Gum Drop Lane to make this a fertile ground for experimentation.
Jordan: Conceptually, I like the idea of this story quite a bit. A little girl gets trapped in a magical, rainbow, sugar-coated land and cannot leave until she finds a way out, causing her to be stuck there for years upon years until she snaps. It’s an interesting twist on the concept and genre, even setting things up with the fun twist that she never even wanted to be there in the first place. However, after the introduction, the comic feels aimless outside of showing what Gertrude has to put up with in her daily adventures and a lot of gore.
Preview image courtesy of Image Comics
Dave: Gertrude is pretty filthy and insane, which I love. The world is magical and because of this it’s almost not dangerous. Instead it’s a place where she can let her frustrations out, however graphic they might be.
Greg: I hope that in the next issue and beyond Young fleshes out Gertrude more and gives her some sympathetic qualities, because I severely disliked her by the end of this issue. That’s a deal-breaker for me. If I don’t like the protagonist, I can’t get into the story, regardless of whatever redeeming qualities it may have. It’s a shame, too, because the premise raises questions (“why is gertrude so vicious? What was her life like back on Earth?”) that could be addressed in really interested ways with strong characterization.
Dog: Eh, I love reading Punisher comics, even though I have no sympathy for the Punisher. I’m not sure every story needs a “good guy,” and like you said, showing that now would run counter to the work establishing the premise.
Intros to the Queen and her “solution” are all you really need for now, as the focus should be on Gertrude. And seriously … screw that narrator.
Lisa: I enjoy the fact that everything in this magical land is living, even the stars. I do not mean cutesy, ‘everything has a face’ living either; we are talking normally inanimate objects have flesh and bones. The characters have a distinct voice as well, you can almost hear them in your head as you read the story. Their attitudes, haughtiness and disdain are captured quite well.
Gertrude wears on me by the end of the comic. There are comedic moments for sure but overall, I want her to be more than a one dimensional wrecking machine.
Jordan: Of the characters in the comic, the only one who particularly stands out is, of course, our lead Gertrude. There’s an element of tragedy to her—stolen away from her home and forced to grow up in a world that she has no interest being in, giving you an ounce of sympathy for her. However, it’s quickly wasted as we simply just cut to her in the present and see how vicious and vile a person she has become. It’s understandable that she’d crack at some point after all these years, but her behavior and attitude—murdering lots of characters who don’t even wish her any harm, for instance—really cuts into that. Hopefully, we get some development and more backstory to explain what happened in the 27 years that passed, because otherwise I can’t really stand her.
Preview image courtesy of Image Comics
Dave: I have to say Young outdid himself as far as keeping things interesting. The plot moves along quickly and I was never bored. You gotta give a guy props for rhyming too!
Greg: As far as the actual craft of writing is concerned, Young is more than competent. Characters have distinct voices and personalities, and you never get the feeling that Young is straining the way other writer-artists sometimes do. The cutesy non-profanity got a little annoying at times, though.
Lisa: The story is well paced and I appreciated the narrative shifts. On the flip side, I agree with Greg, Gertrude’s faux swearing became tiresome.
Dog: True dat. I have to admit that I did feel the desire to skip over the rhymiest stuff. There’s redundancy in the beginning that I think could be altered and improved upon, and some things that could be expanded later on. I mean, I get why it’s used, but there could be some more meat here to chew on.
Jordan: There’s nothing really wrong with the writing by any means. Most of the characters feel distinct, the dialogue and narration are good and have plenty of personality to them, and there’s no point where the book feels hard to follow or is awkward in its storytelling. The swearing and language didn’t irritate me so much as it confused me. There’s a lot of faux-swearing, but then randomly we have ‘dickhead’ tossed in there? It feels strange and out of place.
Preview image courtesy of Image Comics
Dave: You either love or hate Young’s work, but I for one love it. It’s so unique and cartoony it’s easy to love. Mix that with the gore and inappropriate shit in here and you have a masterwork. This reminds me of his Rocket Racoon work, as it’s not as cutesy as we’ve come to expect from him.
Dog: Yeah, that’s the great thing about this book. Young’s set us up through his previous work to expect cute and sanitized, but this breaks that mold to to create an impactful effect. Deviation from expectation is is a standard way to evoke emotion, and there’s a reason for that: it works. It’s not cheating, it’s just good art.
Greg: Like many others, I’m sure, I discovered Young’s art through his covers, primarily those dozens of “Baby Variants” that he did for Marvel a year or so back. Yet it was Rocket Raccoon that really made me a fan. His layouts on that book are so imaginative and energetic that I couldn’t wait to see what he could do in a universe all his own. While his layouts on I Hate Fairyland are more conventional, the distinctive draftsmanship is still there. It’s cartoony, but with a rough quality that gives it the harder edge appropriate for a book like this. Jean-Francious Beaulieu is an appropriate colorist, too, with colors so rich that they’re at times sickening.
Lisa: I am digging this art. It’s as if the game Candyland went on an acid trip. The color palettes shift exquisitely to capture each landscape within Fairyland. It appears at first glance to be simplistic cartooning, but when you take a closer look you see the characters’ expressions and color layering that make each panel pop.
Jordan: Young’s artwork is very nice to look at and he is the perfect individual to draw a book like this considering the cutesy style he uses. Fairyland is bright and colorful, and each area is such a visual treat. The characters are each memorable in all of their designs and the expressions are really fantastic. The only minor thing I could nitpick, which is real big stretch in and of itself, is that I kind of wish the opening page before Gertrude got to Fairyland had a different style of art to it to really give the feeling of how different things look between the worlds.
Dave: I found myself laughing a couple of times in this issue. Young is really throwing everything at the wall and seeing if it’ll stick and I love it. You can tell he isn’t holding back.
Greg: I enjoy dark humor when it’s done well, but most of the jokes fell flat for me here, perhaps because Young occasionally crosses the line between “dark” and “mean-spirited.” The premise has so much comedic potential, though, and Young has proven himself to be funny before, so maybe something will stick for me in future issues.
Dog: A lot of it didn’t really grab me, either, but not because it was mean-spirited. Just too obvious. And not in a “tried and true narrative technique” way, but in a, “We all know what’s gonna happen when she eats that mushroom guy” kinda way. Still, there are some neat bits here, and there’s plenty of room for Young to grow, especially considering he’s done a lot more drawing than writing at this point.
Lisa: Portions of the story were funny. I appreciated the subtle moon character moments in the beginning more than the blatant ‘going for a laugh’ moments. Larrigon Wentsworth III shines as the straight man of this comedy routine.
Jordan: I find the humor to miss more often than not unfortunately. Some parts really work, like the opening bit where the narration does not remotely match the tone of the visuals at all or the moon narrator. On the other hand, a lot of the jokes are just not that clever or well executed. A lot of the darker bits aren’t particularly funny in how they are set up and seem to rely constantly on the fact of how DARK and GORY things are despite the cartoony visuals and universe. I do like dark humor if done well, but not all of it always works here.
Is It Good?
Judging by the tepid responses above, this narrowly misses the mark of ‘Good’ (by .1 in fact!), giving it an average score.