Skottie Young Interview - Part 3
Interview conducted by James Ferguson
Skottie Young's I Hate Fairyland is steamrolling right into its next story arc with issue #6. The main character, Gertrude, has been stranded in Fairyland for decades, stuck in the body of a child as she searches high and low for the key that will take her home. That sounds like a noble quest, but in reality, she's awful at it and leaves a trail of bodies everywhere she goes. I spoke with Skottie when the first trade paperback came out and we got to chat again just as the second arc is about to pick up.
Spoilers for the first trade paperback of I Hate Fairyland are ahead. If you haven't picked that up yet, I highly encourage you to do so, as it's a pretty great read. Also, be sure to check out the first two parts of my interview with Skottie Young as they're pretty fun.
James Ferguson: What's the status quo going into the new issue of I Hate Fairyland?
Skottie Young: Gert ends the last arc as Queen of Fairyland. As usual, she didn't think this through and she finds herself not only not leaving Fairyland, but now she's the boss of it all. Rolling into the next issue, we're going to watch how she deals with that and what the ruler of a place actually does. Is she cut out to be that? Will she enjoy that? Those kind of things.
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JF: How has the story developed since the first five issues?
SY: When I first developed I Hate Fairyland years ago, it was a 48-page short story. It ended with Gert being queen of Fairyland. As I wrote that script, I started really liking this character and seeing all these vignettes with her. I'm a big fan of Tank Girl, which is basically that, a collection of short stories that didn't necessarily connect. They were stories that the creators wanted to talk about. Gert in Fairyland was like that for me. I could play around with genre, social issues, or all this stuff I want to say or joke about, and I can always wrap it in a little vignette. That was always the intention, and maybe I was going to put it online, but I didn't have any grand plans for it.
So I thought I could expand that original story to at least a five issue series. I'm going to be honest, I just did not know if people would support it. I thought the safe bet for me was that since I had this story with a nice bow-- or crown – at the end. That would be a nice place to end if the sales weren't there to support it. I could easily be happy and content with the fact that I ended a story on my own terms and feel good about it. Putting the crown on her head was only one of the vignettes I had laid out all these years. If the book worked, clearly she's been in this world for thirty years, so it's not a far stretch to think she might be there for thirty more and there are endless more stories to tell in a world that doesn't end.
That's what I really felt like with going in and making her queen. I was always going to end it there. That was going to be her end game and I've told that story, but there was so much more to explore. Every time I sat down to write those stories, it was telling me to go in different directions. I know it sounds artsy and weird and flighty, but I tried to write them and it just wasn't there. I feel like right now I'm fighting this. The story is trying to tell her what to do and the character that I created must have worked for me because she is telling me where she wants to go.
JF: How has fan reaction been to I Hate Fairyland?
SY: Man! It's been SO awesome! I've just now started to go out to conventions since the trade has been out and the series has been out for a while. I did one day at Awesome Con in Washington DC, a signing at Third Eye Comics all day Saturday. I had three people come up cosplaying as Gert.
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JF: How does that feel, having someone come up cosplaying as a character you created?
SY: It's so amazing! Not that long ago, this thing did not exist, especially to the outside world. It was just a blank piece of paper. There was no pink dress. There was no yellow bow. There was no green hair. Thinking back to two years ago, where I drew the character once and laid her out six times. Jean [Francois Beaulieu], my colorist, attacked her with color schemes. I'm still thinking of those six versions of her with the pink hair or yellow hair or red hair or blue hair. Green wasn't even on there. I hit up Jean and said, “I don't know why, but I'm really thinking that her hair needs to be green.” That's still so fresh in my mind, so to me, she's still being formed and refined. The fact that she's now outside of my studio in a way that other people are lending their creative talents to her through costume design and different interpretations. I've seen probably twenty Gert cosplays now. It's so bizarre and awesome to see the different approaches to things like how they do her hair. It's just great.
JF: Are you getting a lot of fan art and things like that?
SY: Oh yeah, tons. We got fan art and tattoos. I think I've seen five or six different tattoos emailed to me. The reaction has been so great that it almost feels like the book's been around for ten years. I'm seeing these three people come in cosplay and I'm thinking, “I only have FIVE issues out!” To me, the book just started. I'm still figuring it out. It's really reaching people like that and I couldn't be more happy.
JF: Who would win in a battle of royalty? Gert? Or Joffrey from Game of Thrones?
SY: [Laughs] Well, I think Gert would just absolutely annihilate Joffrey. He's evil in a spoiled brat way. That's all he knows. Gert is hardcore in a way where this world has literally broken her. Broken people are dangerous.
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JF: Speaking of that danger, what are Gert's favorite weapons and/or ways to murder people? I've seen the ax a lot. Is that her weapon of choice?
SY: The ax definitely comes out a lot, mostly because it's such a visual contrast to the little girl. I really did love the cannon Gatling gun that she pulled out of her boat the one time. She pulls a fire breathing dragon out at one point. The weapons are one thing I really hope to explore some more throughout the series, even getting to a place where we find out what else is in Larry's hat and how it fits in there.
JF: Shifting gears a bit, what was it like to create a coloring book for I Hate Fairyland? I don't personally understand this new adult coloring book craze, but there are all sorts of them popping up lately. How did this come about?
SY: The coloring book craze has crept up on me in a way that I wasn't quite prepared for. I want to say it originated in Europe. There was a lot of really intricate line art happening and there might have been some sort of study that talked about the mental benefits of it and the almost Zen-like meditation qualities that this has for people, which is interesting. I was noticing the others pop up too.
I was also interested in the Artists Editions that IDW Publishing puts out, where they take the original scans of the books so you can see what they looked like in full size and black and white. Matteo Scalera and Rick Remender put out an 11x17 black-and-white version of Black Science. I just thought it was so cool as an artist to see Matteo's page full scale and just how pretty they were. I hit up Image about that to find out what the deal was with these oversized black-and-white books as I was thinking about doing those. I wasn't sure though because my artwork is kind of the opposite. I'm a cartoonist and by that I mean I usually draw things with the intent of conveying an idea, not necessarily flexing my illustration skills. I tend to benefit from my drawings being smaller than I originally drew them, so all the looseness and the gaps that I leave come together and tighten up. Blowing mine up larger is actually a little scary.
The more we talked, they mentioned they were also putting together a Walking Dead coloring book. That didn't even occur to me and that's a great idea. When you think about it, my style of artwork is right up a coloring book's alley. I felt like my art fit that concept much closer than to an Artist Edition, so it made more sense for me to lean in that direction. I had so much imagery that I could use for that already. It was really easy for me to put that together. I went through the book and cherry picked some panels that in the book were smaller and give them their own full-page spread, like the moon getting his brains blown out. Instead of being on a page with other panels, it's its own splash page.
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JF: Do you have any other merchandising opportunities you want to pursue for I Hate Fairyland?
SY: Sure. I've been approached by game companies. A couple of people want to do some tabletop games with it. That specifically I want to hold off on. I was hit up about a tabletop game while I was still drawing issue #2. Let me build the book first and get a handle on what it is before I jump in and lock down a game. I do have some t-shirts, plushies, and some statues and things like that. There's definitely a lot of opportunity out there. Right now, it's just about me finding the time to be able to get all that stuff lined up or maybe break down and hire someone to help me organize all that stuff.
JF: So I guess if someone wants to send you their resume to be your personal assistant, they should go to your website, huh?
SY: Sure, yeah.
JF: When we last spoke, you had said some of your influences were old cartoons and Looney Tunes. What are some of your favorites for that era of cartoons?
SY: Disney afternoon was huge for me. Darkwing Duck. DuckTales. TailSpin. I think you'll probably see a lot of that in my work. I was just a cartoon kid. That whole era of the late ‘80s / early ‘90s really resonated with me, from Looney Tunes to Scooby Doo to the Hanna-Barbera stuff. They all played somewhat equal roles for me. It was an era of great design in cartooning, especially of that brand where that Disney-esque line transferred to TV a lot.
HorrorTalk would like to thank Skottie Young for taking the time to speak to us once again. I Hate Fairyland #6 is now available at your local comic book store and online at ComiXology.
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