Talking With Skottie Young: "I Think It's Amazing I'm Known At All"

Bleeding Cool contributor Ian Melton caught up with cover artist and creator, writer, and artist of I Hate Fairyland, Skottie Young.

Bleeding Cool: How did you come up with and develop I Hate Fairyland, and in particular, the two main characters?

Skottie Young: I drew the OZ adaptations at Marvel for a long time and as I worked on those I found myself asking the question "Why isn't Dorothy more annoyed by all these characters?" So that was the original spark. As for Larry, I wanted Gert to have a Jimmy Cricket like guide, but you know, nastier. So I went with a fly, because they're super gross.

BC: What were your main influences when developing the series?

SK: Alice in Wonderland and Tank Girl. Those were in my head right away. Despite having drawn sic volumes of the OZ books, I was always more interested in the story of Alice. I love the mad nonsense of it all. I see a lot of that in Martin and Hewlett's Tank Girl as well, but with more "I'll f-ck you up" added in. I thought those two things would be a fun combo.

BC: You are up to 15 issues and showing no signs of stopping or slowing down. Do you have a planned end or just looking to roll with Gert until you feel you've said everything you want to say?

SK: Honestly, I'm not sure. I'm having a lot of fun, but I also have some other stories I'd like to tell. Drawing is such a time-consuming part of the job and while I'm pretty fast, I can't draw two books at once. I'm at the drawing table about 90% of the production time of this book so it's hard when you start getting other ideas you want to draw.

Right now I'm trying to find a balance and how to approach telling a few new stories and weave that in with I Hate Fairyland. That may be rotating stories a bit more, giving me a chance to dive into a story with a different tone, then back into Gert's insane world. I think it's all about balance and keeping me and the readers excited and having fun with whatever stories are being told.

So, we'll see where it all leads.

BC: Was it fun to do the sequel to God Country in issue #15? (Donny Cates should put a reference in future trade collections of God Country to see issue #15 for the fate of Valofax.)

SK: Donny and Geoff really told an interesting story with God Country, and I'm glad they let me have a little fun with their BFS. When Image Comics first started, you'd see the founders dropping Easter eggs from each other's books, and I wanted to carry on the tradition a little. Comics is about having fun and playing around for me, so what better way than to call up you buddy and ask if you can play with his sword? Like, an actual sword. Get your mind out of the gutter.

BC: (Laughs) I know it was a just a one-line joke, but could we get a Super-Duper Fairyland Friends issue?

SK: I think that may be able to happen, for sure. The great thing about IHF is that anything can happen. It's my open canvas for satire and parody. I can spoof any story or genre and make it fit into the candy coated world we've put together.

BC: What led you to "death by lollipop" as a good death for Gert?

SK: Who knows? Haha. I thought it would be funny that among all the weapons being hurled at her, a Lollipop would be one of them. And what better way to kill the most violent character in that world than with a piece of candy.

BC: I Hate Fairyland TP #3: Good Girl comes out next month, and then you have a hardcover collecting trades #1 and #2 coming out in November.

SK: Yes, and it's going to big and pink and gold foil details, like an old classic fairytale book.

BC: Very cool design idea. What kind of extras will the hardcover contain?

SK: We're getting that together now. All the covers and variants will be there. I'll probably show some sketches and process stuff. Maybe a full script. We'll see what we have room for.

BC: And the I Hate Image expanded edition is also coming out — what will the extra pages focus on?

SK: I don't want to ruin that, but it has a few fun cameos from my friends.

BC: When will we see issue #16?

SK: We'll be back in January. Because writing and drawing a monthly book is a beast of the task, I take a slightly bigger break in between arcs than most other books at image. I don't like to ship late so I pad the break to get back on track to avoid it. So far, we've not shipped anything late with IHF, and I hope we can keep it that way.

BC: Now leading into the future: Gert is in hell. Now, I'm sure you can find new and interesting ways to torture her, but what brought you to the idea to end her "good girl" streak with, well, sentencing her to eternal torment?

SK: The comedy will be in the question "what is hell for Gert?" Just like I do when I return from every break, I switch it up a bit from where you think it was going. I call that getting Good Wife'd. Let me explain. I watched The Good Wife. And every season finale, they'd end on this big 'Holy shit, everything is about to go left," but when you came back the next season, they'd be like, "What? Nah, we're going right, or backwards, or under, but mos def not left." It was frustrating and funny and I loved it. So I do that a lot. Gert's Queen at the end? Yes, how will she deal with that for the next five issues? She won't. She's fired, moving on. Good Wife'd.

BC: Great storytelling approach. Will Happy be the ruler of the hell or just Gert's personal guide (or tormentor)?

SK: Not going to spoil that. I had one plan, and like always, that shifted in the making of the next arc. So, you'll have to wait and see.

BC: Fair enough. Now, you've brought in a few guest creators to work with on the series so far, are there plans for more?

SK: Oh yes! That's one of my favorite things. I have an issue planned for the four arc and so far I have Ryan Ottley, Emi Lenox, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon all on board to draw four-page stories. It's going to be so fun! These artists are all so talented and I admire them so much and love that they're willing to stop by and play in my crazy little sandbox.

BC: Will the guest pinups return?

SK: If friends send them in. I burned through so many early on. And honestly, I use up most of my page count with story now. Haha.

BC: The blurbs you open and end I Hate Fairyland with just about every month are some of the funniest things in the book. Are they easy to come up with every month, or harder than other parts of the book?

SK: Haha, thanks. They're getting harder as we go on. That's the difficult thing about an ongoing comedy book, I think. How do you keep it funny and not overstaying your welcome by repeating jokes? The intros and outros are getting tougher, for sure. Being meta with it is funny at the start, then it's not, then it is again, but then what? That's the question, isn't it? It's hard to answer.

BC: Do you find the F-ck Fairyland covers are more popular than the normal covers, or are orders between the two about the same?

SK: They're pretty popular, but the regular covers sell more. But not by a huge amount.

BC: So how was Rose City Comic Con for you?

SK: It was fun. I had a great time in and out of the show.

BC: Among creators, I know Rose City Comic Con has a very large vibe for being a convention focused on comic book creators and making them feel very welcome.  When it comes to picking which conventions to go to, what are the main draws?

SK: I like shows that have a personal touch. I have two kids and it's getting harder to add as many conventions to my schedule, so I'm getting a bit more choosy. Mostly it's asking other creators how they feel about this show or that show. It's usually a good way to gauge which ones will give you the boost you look for when going to shows.

BC: What Marvel Baby Covers are you working on right now? And do you think they'll ever let you stop drawing them? Or will they work hard to keep you chained to an art table with trucks of money coming to your door?

SK: Honestly, I can't remember which ones just got added to the schedule (laughs). In February I'll have been doing them for six years. I'm well over 250 of them now, which is unbelievable. We'll see how long people keep digging them. I have fun making them, so we'll see.

BC: Any other projects in the pipeline right now?

SK: Yes. Three creator-owned projects are at the top of my list. Two of them I will be writing with other insanely talented friends of mine. And the third is one that I'll write and draw whenever I figure out how to fit it in. So, yes, there is more coming and I'm very excited about diving in and telling these stories.

BC: Finally, when it comes to the comic book industry, how do you think you are best known by the fans?

SK: It's interesting. I'd say a great deal of people probably know me as the Baby Cover guy. Which is funny, because that feels like my side hustle to me (laughs). I've been drawing mostly comic books since 2001, and still do. That's what I know myself as, but the covers are on shelves more frequently than my monthlies, so I completely understand why I might be known for that.

Somebody asked me once if it's annoying that I'm known for those. I said no. I'm not annoyed if I'm known for those. Honestly, I think it's amazing that I'm known at all. I come from a town of 3600 people in the middle of the cornfield in Illinois. The fact I play pretend with pencils and paper and people know me for that at all is unbelievable. I'm grateful to be known for anything.

BC: How are you best known by other creators?

SK: (Laughs) I have no idea how to answer that.

BC: Thank you again for your time, and looking forward to I Hate Fairyland to return!

About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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