Back in 2015, having made his name with his iconic and humorous art style, comic creator Skottie Young launched I Hate Fairyland, his first creator-owned book published through Image Comics. An irreverent and hilarious take on the fairy tale genre, the series is the story of Gert, a young girl whose dream comes true when she finds herself transported to the magical world of Fairyland. But as the saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for,” and after thirty years trapped in Fairyland and stuck as a child with the mind of an adult, Gert eventually becomes violent and jaded.
For over three years readers delighted in the (oftentimes brutal) adventures of Gert and her reluctant guide Larry the fly until 2018 when Gert finally found her way home to live out a mundane and miserable life as an adult. However, fans rejoiced when Young announced on the inaugural post of his official Substack newsletter that I Hate Fairyland would be returning, with Young relinquishing the art duties to Brett Parson so that he can focus on the writing. Moreover, Young has opened the borders of his whimsical fantasy universe for guest writers and artists to wreak havoc in a new monthly series called The Unbelievable, Unfortunately Mostly Unreadable and Nearly Unpublishable Untold Tales of I Hate Fairyland, available on his Stupid Fresh Mess Substack newsletter. Untold Tales of I Hate Fairyland‘s second installment is “I Hate Gert!”—a six-page descent into madness by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, the acclaimed fraternal artists behind The Umbrella Academy and the creative team of Daytripper and Two Brothers.
The Beat caught up with Young over email to discuss what inspired him to return to his first creator-owned series, roping Parson in to take over on art, and much more!
Taimur Dar: As readers know, you seemingly closed the book over 3 years ago in the final issue of I Hate Fairyland #20 with Gert returning to Earth and resigned to live out her miserable adult life working at a TV station. How did you get the itch to return to the world of I Hate Fairyland?
Skottie Young: I always knew I’d come back. Honestly, I thought I’d be back sooner. I planned a year-long break, but my work schedule and the state of the world had other plans for me, which turned out fine because those three years off I Hate Fairyland has me even more excited to jump back in and play around.
Dar: It’s not unusual for joint comic writers/artists to to take a break from drawing and concentrate on the writing aspect of things and bring in other artists like Mike Mignola and his Hellboy books for instance. How did you connect with Brett Parson to come aboard on art? Were you two already friends before this collaboration?
Young: I had met Brett at a con Drink and Draw years back. I was a big fan. When I was wrapping up the original series, I ended up chatting with him and Eric Powell about how Brett was doing a run on The Goon. I was jealous as hell and instinctively replied, “I want you to do a run on I Hate Fairyland!” He was like “Hell yeah, that’d be cool, man.” But I was ending the book for a bit so that wasn’t actually in the cards. So when I decided to bring it back and team up with an artist for the new run, I reached out and he was still interested and said yes!
Dar: What’s the collaboration process like between you and Parson?
Young: Perfect. He’s a pro through and through. He sends over these layouts that look like damn near finished art. He’s just so talented and makes it look effortless. He and I also have similar influences so there’s very much a short hand we’re falling into. I can’t wait for you all to see the art!
Dar: Years ago I covered a MoCCA Fest panel with Mike Mignola and I was both surprised and amused to hear him admit that he found writing by himself for the first time a nightmare. He joked that writing is still a mystery to him. How do you think you’ve grown since your first comics script?
Young: I was also pretty scared when I started years ago. But like anything, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Very similar to drawing. My early work was rough. It was the best I could do at the time with my experience and talent, but still ROUGH. Over time, you can’t help but to learn and grown and get better. Growth through repetition.
Dar: I’ve been reading Terry Gilliam’s memoir and I’m really fascinated with how post-Monty Python he was able to branch into projects you wouldn’t have expected from his Monty Python work and animation but you can actually see some the early seeds. Obviously, you cultivated a fun comedic style with both your art and writing through your various projects at Marvel, so I don’t think fans at the time would have foreseen you to try your hand in other genres like a love/horor story with The Me You Love in the Dark. Was it easy for you to escape being pigeonholed?
Young: That’s an interesting question. I guess I never thought about being pigeonholed. I mean, I can’t predict what everyone else thinks. I watch all kinds of movies and read all kinds of books in every genre there is. I knew at some point I’d make the leap away from the safety of strictly humor books, I just needed the right time and right idea. Luckily, I have a great partner in Jorge [Corona] and found the time and idea! I do love that everyone seemed to get what we were doing and saying and enjoyed the book.
Dar: Comic conventions are slowly returning. I know you like others still have no plans to attend conventions quite yet which I completely understand. Working as a comic creator can be fairly solitary so attending a con is a great way to get out of your routine and actually interact with your fans in person. Do you miss the convention experience and you hope that the in-person interactions of gatherings will make a comeback?
Young: I look forward to getting back to the cons so I can connect with the readers and art fans in person again. Because there aren’t any plans for me to return just yet, we have tried to add as much of the con experience as possible here at my company, Stupid Fresh Mess. We offer all kinds of merchandise through the store at SKOTTIEYOUNG.COM. From original art, stickers, signed comics, and graphic novels, to limited edition screen prints, mystery boxes, CGC’d exclusives, and more.
Dar: I know Untold Tales of I Hate Fairyland will reveal how Gert got her iconic axe. Any other stories or teases of what else fans can expect you can reveal?
Young: Well, you can go read a new story from Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá on my Substack right now. We just launched it last week! It’s a short that sees one of Gert’s biggest fans return for some revenge! And for premium subscribers, there’s some bonus features!
The first two installments of The Unbelievable, Unfortunately Mostly Unreadable and Nearly Unpublishable Untold Tales of I Hate Fairyland are available to read, along with much more, on Skottie Young’s Substack now.