Skottie Young is one of my favorite creators in the current comic book landscape. He came to prominence as the award-winning cartoonist on the adaptations of the Oz books, but he quickly became a sought-after artist for variant covers of Marvel books where the characters are drawn as kindergardeners. From there, he wrote a Rocket Raccoon book full of glee and heart and friendship and lots of shooting of lots of aliens. Now, with I Hate Fairyland, Young has his first creator-owned property, and it’s a delight.
Before going any more into the book, I should say that a guy at Ultimate Comics this morning grabbed this and said, “I could read this with my kid, huh?” And the answer to that is tricky. See, it looks like the Wizard Of Oz, but it plays more like Pulp Fiction, and that’s the genius of it. In the backmatter, Skottie Young talks about his childhood obsession with Mad Magazine, and that’s as close as you’ll get to the tone of this series. Kids are going to find this funny, but parents are advised to screen it first because you don’t want all of these jokes to show up in a classroom.
I should explain. The book begins sweetly, with green-haired moppet Gertrude falling down a rabbit hole into whimsical Fairyland, where Queen Cloudia sends her on a one-day quest to find the key to the door back to her world. Twenty-seven years later, Gertrude is really tired of this crap. Her body has stopped aging in the cute child stage, but her mind has gone steadily darker, warped by the Candy Land visuals and the consistent disappointment of never finding the key. The cute talking moon gets on her nerves, so she blasts its brain out. Playful anthropomorphic stars are potential witnesses, so she shoots them all out of the sky, and they spray cartoony jets of blood and bone as they crash all over Fairyland. She takes a break in the sleazy Vegas of Fairyland and eats some of the mushroom inhabitants, which gets her so high that all she can say is “Blah” on a loop. Cloudia has had enough of her and orders an adorable hitman, who catches up to Gertrude on the final page.
This book is amazing, a self-aware romp that lands almost every single joke (which, in honesty, Mad Magazine couldn’t do on its best day). The art is kinetic and beautiful and gruesome, like a Happy Tree Friends that doesn’t cross as far over the taste line. I love me some Rocket Raccoon, but this may be Skottie Young’s best work yet, and I encourage any adult to come down to Ultimate Comics and pick it up. And then, leave it on an end table and look the other way. Fourth-grade boys appreciate humor so much better when they think they’re stealing it.