Tuesday, October 08, 2013


Stick around the comic community long enough and you'll see changes.  I think one of the biggest overhauls I experienced was when there was a resurgence of the direct marketing of comics. They moved from small spinner racks, and the ghettoized small spaces taking up the corner drug and convenience stores into venues where comic and magazine shops catered to comic fans.  

Elfquest by Wendy and Richard Pini was one of the earlier independent comics to come out of that changing market.  From what I've read, Richard wrote them (although I assume they both had input into the stories), and Wendy drew them. 

Elfquest originally came out in 1987 in a black and white magazine format and over time won many awards within the comic and fantasy community, including best story and best artist.  I first encountered it in the full colored Starblaze editions, which was sold through a bookstore.

The first story, Fire and Flight, opens on a primitive type world similar to earth.  A  tribe has gathered around a bonfire, and having captured an elf are in a ceremony getting ready to sacrifice him.  Then the  tale shifts to a flashback on how the elves arrived on this planet, and how the primitive people were afraid of these new strangers.  They feared the elves, and due to their ignorance slayed and attacked them driving the elves away to hide and set up their own home.  This hatred has gone on for many generations.

 After some of the past history the reader is brought up to speed, and we are again back at the bonfire.  The elves have come to rescue their captive friend.  During the skirmish one of the elves slays one of the tribesmen, which inflames their hatred even more.

Once the elves have rescued their friend and gotten him back home, we learn a bit more about the elves.  The head of their tribe is Cutter, they have tamed wolves to ride and can communicate with them, Cutter can also communicate by means of telepathy,  and we learn a bit about some of the other elves within the tribe.

The primitive humans decide to burn the elves out of their homeland and begin to start setting fires to the forest area, and the elves flee to the caverns of trolls seeking aid and safety.  They try to strike a bargain with the troll king, Greymung, and are led through the caves to what they think will be a beautiful land and a new beginning, but are betrayed.  This begins their quest, to find a new homeland and survive while doing so.  

Wendy's art work is original and pleasant looking, and the storytelling is pure light fantasy that's fast paced.  There's enough unanswered questions to engage the reader to follow along into the next issue to learn more about the plight of the elves.  This is a book written for fantasy fans of all ages.  If  you enjoy things like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and other such stories, you might enjoy this as well.

The Pinis have graciously provided a web site where you can now read the series free online.  You can begin the Elfquest saga here. 


At 11:02 AM, Blogger SFF said...

Gosh I remember Elfquest. Great coverage here.

But, a nostalgic point you made that really pulled me back was that opening.

Spinning racks and ghettoized corners. My gosh. Those days were perfect. That was when comics were at their absolute best in my opinion.

There was even a rare quality to them eventhough they were available at the local drug store.

There were no reserves and you had to get your ass there before they were gone and when they were gone, good luck trying to find them again unless you could make your way to the ever cool and fairly hard to find specialty comic shop.

Comics exploded with direct marketing.

Have you seen these comic book shops today? I walk in and I'm blown away. I'm simply overwhelmed.

Yes, the days of Elfquest and comics on the spinning rack are the days I cherish most.

Cheers for the memories.

At 4:50 PM, Blogger El Vox said...

SFF--I agree, there's a lot of nostalgia associated with the old days for me too. The closest store I had to buy a comics at was a small convenience store that I'd ride my bike to, and it wasn't even a 7-11, it was just some independently owned store. But I would go to he barber shop and he also had comics there to read while waiting for a haircut. I sort of dropped out of the scene when my family moved, and it got even harder to find comics as we lived pretty far from a store, and I think I had switched from comics to music by that time. I wish I had kept up with both, but at that age, didn't have a lot of spare dough either.

It wasn't until the mid 80's that I rekindled my interest in comics, and was sort of amazed at all the new changes. They also had a lot of fanzines like Amazing Heroes, Comics Buyers Guide and the Overview Price Guide and even conventions to attend.

I think it's changing now too however. Now people don't even have to leave their house to get them. They can buy them mail order or download them to their Kindle or reading device. Who knows how that will change the industry? But I know what you mean, if you haven't been in a comic shop in a while, it can be very overwhelming. :)

At 8:07 PM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

Love Elfquest. One of my favorite comic series, and one of the first I really got into. I remember seeing the first collection in a book store and just being fascinated by the name.

I ended up collecting the Father Tree Press versions all the way up to volume 9 and a couple of the spin off books.

I revisited the series last year. Hadn't read them in ages, but they still held up. Great stories, wonderful art and such memorable characters.

There has been talk of making a full blown animated feature of ElfQuest off and on for years. I remember in the late 90s hearing Brad Pitt was interested in getting it rolling and providing the voice for Cutter. Interesting idea, but I think I'll stick with the books.

At 8:15 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Roman--an animated series would be pretty cool, and I even wondered how a live action film could turn out. I've seen some cosplay pics taken from Elfquest characters, and I think it could be done with the right director. Who knew how well the Lord of the Rings would have turned out or the Hobbit movies? I was even skeptical about a three-part Hobbit movie, but saw the first one and enjoyed it. I've seen a recent preview for the second installment and I'm already psyched for it as well.

I had a friend that said she wasn't too much into Pini's version of elves, comparing them to Tolkien's elves, but I think it's a different take on the fantasy. Wendy's storytelling if anything reminded me of the Ralph Bakshi version of LotRs or Wizards but really just her own personal vision of those fantasy elements. Rather than compare the two, I'd just say, if you like LotRs, check this out in addition.


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