Saturday, May 28, 2016

I Hate Fairyland

Warning: The following blog contains images of blood, violence, sexual innuendo, and swearing. Judge your sensitivities and proceed accordingly.

The premise behind Skottie Young’s comic, I Hate Fairyland, is pretty straightforward. When Gert was 10, she fell through a hole into Fairyland. All she had to do to get home, she was told, was find a magical key. However, 27 years later, she still hasn’t found it, and in all that time, her body hasn’t aged. a day. Frustrated and bitter, Gert has given up on magical quests and enigmatic riddles, and now shoots, smashes and demolishes her way through Fairyland.

It’s extremely simple, and for all the graphic cartoon violence, extremely juvenile. It reminds me of a friend who, when shown something cute and adorable, would reply, “It would be cuter on fire.” And it’s hilarious, and it’s wrong, and I love it.

While Skottie Young may have started his career in mainstream superhero comics, it seems clear that’s not entirely where his heart lies. I really became aware of his work when he started working with Eric Shanower on a series of adaptations of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books for Marvel. Together, they adapted the first six books over the course of six years or so; by almost any measure, this represents a tremendous success for a non-superhero series from Marvel.

However, six years is a long time for any artist to stick to one series—particularly one that they don’t actually own—and inevitably, Young moved on to new projects. He also moved on to a new role, writing his own stuff, beginning with the fantastic Rocket Raccoon. Like I Hate Fairyland, Rocket Raccoon is a series about a deceptively cute character whose solution to most problems is shooting and blowing stuff up. But Young’s work on Rocket also shows a lot of heart.

I Hate Fairyland is a logical next step for Young. It’s got all the explodey mayhem of the classic Warner Brothers cartoon. There’s a lot more blood, but it’s all from cartoon characters and doesn’t make the story feel any more realistic. It’s a grand guignol comedy like Peter Jackson’s hilariously drenched-in-blood zombie film, Dead Alive. It’s so over the top, you can’t stop laughing, because you can’t believe how far Young is pushing things. 

I don’t feel like I can analyze this comic on a deep intellectual level, because that’s not the level at which it appeals. (Besides, as I’ve said in my very first post, this blog is not for intellectual analysis; it’s for my reactions to things that I like.) For me, I think—besides the over-the-top humor and violence and gorgeous art—the pleasure comes from the visceral pleasure of watching Gert circumvent the tedious, frustrating rituals of Fairyland, which serve as a metaphor for all the crap we have to go through in real life. 

We may not have to answer a magic genii’s riddle to get what we need, but many of us have to sit through endless meetings where we talk and talk and talk about what we have already decided we're going to do, or write up endless paperwork to justify purchasing something that we’ve already been told we can buy. Who hasn’t sat through a committee meeting at work and daydreamed about cutting through the red tape with an axe or a shotgun? I suppose the appeal of this comic is the same as watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon: the characters are just doing what we are thinking.

I love I Hate Fairyland so much, the only think I can think of that would make it better would be if Skottie Young had been able to go with his original title (seen below on a variant cover) But it’s not the cover that matters, it’s what’s inside that counts. And what’s inside the covers of I Hate Fairyland is bloody, violent, wrong, and brilliant.

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