Reviews

Review – I Hate Fairyland #12

I hate fairyland #12

I Hate Fairyland #12

Story

I Hate Fairyland is a guilty pleasure of mine.  It’s a fun and frivolous comic similar in nature to Chip Zdarsky’s Kaptara, and to a lesser degree, Dave Sims’ classic Cerebus.  In the comic, Skottie Young traces the misadventures of a young nihilist named Gert (short for Gertrude) and her somewhat loyal guardian bug Larry (a foul-mouthed, cigar-smoking version of Jiminy Cricket). 

In this arc, 30 years have passed since the never aging Gert entered the world of Fairyland and began her life as a force for chaos and violence. 

Recently, she has begun to search for redemption and is considering becoming a force for good, rather than evil. Each time she tries to distance herself from her past, however, she keeps repeating her mistakes, often leading to the bloody deaths of all those who she comes into contact with.

I Hate Fairyland #12 is Skottie Young’s homage to Stan Sakai’s samurai-themed Usagi Yojimbo, one of the longest running solo titles in comics.  Young lovingly renders both the story and the art to mimic Sakai’s style, but with a twist that unmistakenly makes it a uniquely Young comic. 

At the beginning of the issue, Gert has, enigmatically, learned the “way of the Samurai”, even if she, like most westerners, cannot distinguish between the meaning of “samurai” and that of “ninja”.  How she became a samurai is immaterial, and Young doesn’t fill in the gaps of the years of training, as that simply isn’t the way things work in Fairyland.

Readers can fill in the gaps based on other, familiar, stories. Or not. For all we know, and this is more likely the more I think about it, Gert simply decided one day that she wanted to be a samurai (or ninja) and “poof” the next days she was.  Such is the way of Fairyland. 

Here, she has received a quest, one to return a young kidnapped girl to her mother.  She finds the child in a village of shitake (undoubtedly a “scat” pun) mushroom samurai.  Being reformed, she tries to find the girl without alerting and having to kill the mushrooms. Of course, being Fairyland, she finds herself facing an army of samurai.  Even when trying to eschew violence, it seems, Gert finds it.  As she is no good at the sneaky part of being a samurai, she does what she does best: kill… and kill… and kill… and, well, you get the point.

At least she gets to return the child to her mother, who promptly “eats the fluffin’ thing.”  It turns out that the Shitake samurai was trying to save, not kidnap the poor girl.  Oh well.  It’s the thought that counts, amirite?

Art

This is probably my favorite Skottie Young art issue.  The first few pages, in particular, are rich in Sakai inspired imagery.  The scenery, movement, and even clothing style fit the Usagi Yojimbo world while also remaining true to the absurdities of Fairyland.  Young also cleverly plays with Sakai’s style of dialogue and action.

In several places throughout the comic, he shows consecutive panels of different characters’ facial expressions to represent the action.  These reach an absurd level when, in two consecutive panels, all readers see are the back of a mushroom head and Gert’s ear.   

As with the rest of the run of I Hate Fairyland, Young juxtaposes cute creatures and silly scenery with extreme images of guts and gore.  Gert is a harbinger of death, and Young lovingly sketches each carved body and spout of blood.

Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s coloring breathes life into Skottie Young’s sketches.  In a world filled with childlike wonder as Fairyland is, the art needs to be rich in color, even if said world contains a murderous psychopath like Gert.  Beaulieu’s colors are aesthetically pleasing while also being dark and depressing at the right moments. 

Conclusion

A few issues ago, Gert was in a rut, and it felt like I Hate Fairyland was too.  In the last three issues, however, Skottie Young has rapidly moved the story forward while also taking it back to its roots.  This issue is Young’s first full-on homage/parody of a single author/artist.   If he can find as much success paying homage to other great writers and artists, then he will be able to keep I Hate Fairyland fresh.


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About the author

Stuart Ringwalt

Stuart Ringwalt teaches English/Language Arts at Walter Williams High School in Burlington, NC. In his free time, Stuart likes to read novels and comics, go on walks, play frisbee and video games and watch more television than he cares to admit.

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