By: Skottie Young
Release Date: April 20, 2016
Publisher: Image Comics
Series: I Hate Fairyland #1
One of the parts that I love so much about this series as a whole is that, yeah, the idea of a world that is perfect and charming in every way would become very frustrating and annoying very There is nothing I love more than completely over the top humor or stories that point out flaws and misconceptions in things usually considered ‘good’, ‘normal’, or ‘benign’. I Hate Fairyland Vol 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young does both of these things with near perfection.
I Hate Fairyland is the story of a little girl named Gertrude who is whisked away to a magical land filled with all sorts of fantastical beings. To get home she must find a key that unlocks a magical door, a key that is said to take about two days of real world time to get to. Twenty seven years later Gertrude still looks like a little girl, but is anything but. Disillusioned, maladjusted, she hates every second of her stay in Fairyland. Determined to get the key home by any means, Gertrude wreaks a path of bloody destruction across Fairyland and will let nothing and no one get in her way.
The concept of someone, especially a small child, being whisked away to a place of magic, strange creatures, and unforeseen danger is not just a fantasy genre staple, but a thing of literal myths and legends. This idea is turned completely upside down in this graphic novel. Fairyland bears many of the marks of a tradition fairy-land world. Everything is drawn in bright, happy colors. Mundane objects and geographical features are magical, or at least have faces and are cognitive. Yet, through Gertrude and her guide Larry, we see that a perfect magical paradise is something that simply doesn’t exist, that some of the things we take for granted about these sorts of worlds are completely unbelievable (even for fairy tales).
The art reflects this world well. The colors are extremely bright and cheery. Setting change often, always providing new and interesting fantasy landscapes. Ice worlds, magical night skies, and the seedy Fairyland Underworld are all depicted.
One of the parts that I love so much about this series as a whole is that, yeah, the idea of a world that is perfect and charming in every way would become very frustrating and annoying very quickly. Things usually taken for granted about these worlds are highlighted. Case and point, the Narrator. This is a physical entity within these books, and a personage whose life is constantly threatened – either because Gertrude has taken offense at what they are saying, or by misadventure, as to commentate on the goings on they are often within the heart of danger.
Despite having a gorey death on nearly every page I Hate Fairyland manages to uphold a sense of lighthearted humor. Fun is poked at genre staples and clichés. If there is a common trope, you can be sure that Gertude will do the exact opposite of that.
As much as Gertrude complains about the world screwing her over – and rightfully so – she does not make things easier for herself. Even after having lived in Fairyland for almost thirty years, things don’t come naturally her. She doesn’t ‘get’ how a fairy tale world works, which explains her string of constant failures and misadventures. But Gertrude’s loss is our gain, as I’d rather nothing more than to read another volume of I Hate Fairyland immediately.
However much I adore I Hate Fairyland – and I love it a lot – I don’t think this series is going to be for everyone. Character death, extreme gore, and pseudo curses abound. It is absurdist in many ways, and that certainly won’t appeal to everyone.
Disclaimer aside, I do really enjoy this series. I’m two volumes deep so far (so stay tuned for a review of volume two sometime soon) and have volume three sitting on top of my to-read stack. I Hate Fairyland is a wild ride – total fun that made me literally laugh out loud multiple times – and something that should be read immediately.