Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Elfquest!


One of my favorite comics as a kid was Elfquest. Short of the Conan comics (and Epic and Heavy Metal, to an extent), there just wasn't a lot out there to offer the fantasy and comic fan, and I stumbled across Elfquest well into its run. For several months strait, I would go out to breakfast with mom on Saturday morining, and run across the street to the local book/comic store (this is Wilson's Books and the Family Kitchen, if any of you are familiar with St. Petersburg, FL; both, amazingly, are still there, and still fantastic) for a back issue, and a large part of the week would be spent poring over the pages, caught up in the rich imaginary world of its creators, Wendy and Richard Pini.

If you're not familiar with the comic, it follows the tale of a tribe of elves who are driven from their idyllic forest home into a savage prehistoric wilderness. They are the dimished scions of a group of tall, powerful elves that accidentally "crashed" their plane-travelling castle into "our" world, where magic is weak and hard to come by. They were vulnerable to the weak but vicious tribes of humanity they encountered, and were scattered across the world into small enclaves fighting for survival. Despite the often "cutesy" art, the story ventures into some surprisingly dark territories as the main characters encounter other tribes of elves, many twisted and changed by their circumstances, some irredeemably.

I bought four compilations gathering the original 20 issues of the series together in full color (the original comics were black & white) several years back, and was surprised after a recent re-reading that the story still resonated with me. The Pinis and others have since continued the story in later editions, but those new storylines seem unfamiliar to me and nowhere near as stirring (perhaps an inevitable change from the freedom of underground comics to the sometimes unkind influence of more corporate publishers), but I highly recommend those original 20 issues. You can read all 20 of them here at the official site (labelled "The Original Quest"), or buy them in the current editions of the four anthologies (a bit more expensive than the $12.95 price tag of the originals!).

9 comments:

  1. In high school I read and re-read those comics many times. Good stuff!

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  2. I had such a crush on Moonshade...

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  3. I started reading Elf Quest when Marvel started publishing them. I remember buying issue 1 at a Walden Books in the summer of 1985! I've been hooked since.

    Now I've amassed a bookshelf full of the the original 8 volume series plus a lot of the newer series (which are pretty good).

    I always liked the wolf/elf connection.

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  4. I really enjoyed those firt 20 issues. Very inspirational storytelling and ideas.

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  5. Funny, I think I had the same exact experience. Got the first four collections of the storyline and loved them. The later stuff just never captured my imagination as much. And wow, the final battle against the trolls was awesome—loved the plate-armor the elves wore- with the wolf-head helms (and Elk-head helms for the other tribe) great stuff. Plus it was really neat (and original) to see Elves in an essentially stone-age environment (that seemed to be where most of the human tribes were, anyway).

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  6. You have no idea how much time I'm now going to waste reading these awesome comics. I remember seeing them bitd, but I never read them. Now I wish I had. Holy crap!

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  7. Have you seen the book about their attempt to get a Stormbringer movie made?

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  8. @Jay - thanks for the link, that's pretty remarkable stuff!

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  9. ElfQuest IS awesome. My friend had the entire original series from WARP (we also read A Distant Soil) and we both owned the original four graphic novels. The later comics are pretty good as well and I picked up books five and six a few years back (and was not disappointed...amazing depth of emotion for those little four-fingered folk).

    @ Jim: I, too, had a bit of a "crush" on Moonshade...she was far more type than Leetah or Nightfall.
    ; )

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