Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Guest Review - The Classics - ElfQuest #1

   Back with another guest review is our man David Wright, with a look at one of the first major independent comic success stories: ElfQuest.

   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 1978 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 killed 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, we learn a bit more about the elves. The head of their tribe is Cutter, they have bonded with wolves and they 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 artwork is original and pleasant looking, and the storytelling is pure light fantasy that's fast paced. There are 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 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. 



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