Tuesday, December 15, 2009
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!).