Monday, 27 April 2015

The Big Elfquest Gatherum

I first came across Elfquest in the 1980s, when I saw the novelisation of the comics on a stall at a Star Trek convention. I enjoyed it, and after that I looked out for the comics, and started buying the Blood of Ten Chiefs anthologies, which are also great fun.
I never did get much further in the story than the Go-Backs, though I'm told that they did find the High Ones space ship in the end. The Wolfriders, for those who are unfamiliar with the story, are a tribe of elves who are forced out of their forest home, and find their way to another group, the Sun Folk, who live in a desert. Cutter, the leader of the Wolfriders, then begins a quest to find all the other scattered elves of the World With Two Moons, and find out what happened to their distant ancestors the High Ones. It's quite different from superhero comics, and good fantasy comic stories are quite rare. This one also has a wide range of good female characters (and Winnowill, who is a wonderful villain!), and that rarity in comic books, a happily married family with children - Cutter, Leetah of the Sun Folk, and their two children Ember and Suntop.
Occasionally I go down to Booth Bookshop's cellar, where the SF is, and the last time I browsed there, I found I book I had not suspected to exist - the Big Elfquest Gatherum. It's a sort of encyclopaedia of Elfquest knowledge, interviews, artwork and so on, and it's fascinating. I hadn't realised the effort Richard and Wendy Pini had put in to trying to get an animated film or TV series off the ground - though reading the struggles they went through, I'm glad we never got the live action film made with children on the backs of large dogs (a serious suggestion by the studio they were dealing with at the time!) or the cartoon series where they wanted to make Leetah's skin lighter because they didn't want to be seen to be endorsing mixed marriages!
There's also information about the Beauty and the Beast graphic novels that Wendy Pini did the artwork for. I used to have the one where Vincent paints an oil painting of Catherine, and I recently got the one where Vincent has to help Catherine's soul move on after death - both of them are beautiful, and quite a different style to the Elfquest elves.
And, it seems, there is more Elfquest out there - stories I was never aware of before, but which I'll be looking out for in future.

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