The humor around this centres on a bloody, cathartic subversion of the cheerful kiddie shows; a cute little girl entering the candy sweet fantasy world and hating every minute of it, before being slowly driven into an ax crazy murderous rage. With a premise like that, what could go wrong?
Well, quite a few things, but at the start, it’s pure comedy gold. We meet our heroine, Gertrude- our Alice expy- getting sucked in to the magical fantasy land against her will. And the whole sequence is hilarious. The cheerful fairytal narrative playing which refuses to take into account the pain and misery that Gertrude is suffering in the panels. Gertrude is getting beaten, abused and sent into her own personal hell, while all the citizens of Fairyland smile, insensitive to her obvious pain.
This is so deliciously cruel that it’s hilarious, and when we get to the breaking point where she blows the narrator to smitherines, it was hilarious. We see her get hurt and abused in this wonderland, the world that is usually fun and sweet actually turning into a groundhog day nightmare where she’s stuck there in child form for 27 years.
The artwork serves the story spectacularly as well. Young has created an incredibly cute, childlike asthetic that looks like every true fairytale land you imagine, so when the maiming does happen the juxtaposition takes maximum effect. We see brains, and blood, and cute little critters flattened in this bright, adorable artstle- it’s like if Nightmare on Elm Street took place in 100 Acre Wood.
The problem is that after this strong start, things go downhill. The comedy relies purely on Gertrude being a jackass and maiming and everything in sight- which has potential, for a little while. With the right set up. After all, Happy Tree friends was funny, and Conkers Bad Fur Day had a similar concept of a crude, heavy drinking protagonist in a childish setting and was pretty creative, even if not always laugh out loud funny. But the problem is that the jokes didn’t have the right set up to land properly, and as a result the heroine is more annoying than the saccharine creatures she maimed.
At the beginning, we see Gertrude murder the moon (who is the narrator)The reason it worked when she shot the moon in the face was because our heroine had been pushed to breaking point: we’d seen her sucked into Wonderland, get continuously abused while a cheerful narration played, seen her trapped there for 27 years, all while having to listen to that same narration who’s insensitivity and lack of shits given about her pain made him seem sadistic. She was a woman on edge, and not only was this built up and cathartic, it was subversive because she’s not just saying ‘fuck you’ to the annoying creature, but destroying the forth wall and saying ‘fuck you’ to convention in a Deadpool and She-Hulk like way. The death was also extremely overkill and creative and a joy to read about.
When she attacks the citizens of the town, she doesn’t have the same set up. The reason . In order to get to the payoff where blowing the citizens was justified, it needed to be set up; they needed to be annoying, Gertrude needed to be pushed to her very limit again. Maybe they could have annoyed her by singing cheerful songs at her, or constantly charged her with silly things like stepping on a crack or littering ala Demolition Man, or maybe she could have been lost and . But no: the reason they attack her is because she’s commiting a robbery- for no apparent reason.The creatures aren’t annoying and detestable, but just seem like perfectly nice, likeable creatures just trying to go about their daily lives, when Gertrude just randomly attacks them.
She’s senselessly hostile for no reason.In fact, she’s just such a two dimensional nasty that she’s actually a hundred times more irritating than the saccharine animals- she’s like that gobby 12 year old on X-Box live who has to be nasty and spiteful because they think it makes them look cool. I think Young is relying on our own annoyance with saccharine characters like The Care Bears and Barney The Dinosaur to make us hate the citizens of Fairyland, which doesn’t work. Even if you have analogues to existing characters, you still have to build them up and make them work in their own right.
When the Queen does send someone to deal with Gertrude, it’s because Gertrude is serial killer who’s committed mass murder. The Queen, far from being the antagonist, so far seems to just be doing what she has to in order to protect her kingdom. This could work if Gertrude was set up to bra villain protagonist and the Queen the real hero, but that doesn’t seem to be the case as it feels as if we’re supposed to think Gertrude’s reaction to this world is completely natural- which it isn’t.
VERDICT: Overall, I Hate Fairyland has an uneven start and is very hit and miss. When the jokes are properly set up, it’s funny, but other times it just relies too heavily on the image of a cute little girl maiming cute animals being inherently funny- which is great on a t-shirt, but to carry a whole series? Whether the series will find its feet remains to be seen.
CONTINUE OR DROP: Continue for 3 more issues.