Remember the days when you were convinced that elves and fairies were real, that a pet dragon didn't have to have the word Komodo in front of it, and magic was real and alive and possible? Well, one of the best interpretations of a world in which all of these things exist is the world of ElfQuest.
ElfQuest is the brain child of Wendy and Richard Pini, and it combines beautiful artwork with mature, well developed stories and characters. This is the world of Two Moons, the world of Cutter and Leetah and Skywise and Rayek and Winnowill. This is the world of rock-shapers and plant-shapers and healers and flying and 'sending'. This is an artist's masterwork, a telling of a story that has never been told before. It is not just a comic book, but a saga that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
A WaRP through the Elves world
ElfQuest is published by WaRP1 graphics, based in Poughkeepsie, New York, USA. ElfQuest was one of the first independently published comics in America and made its premier in 1978 after several years in development.
The first comics were black and white, and they told the story of Cutter, Blood of Ten Chiefs, and his tribe of forest-dwelling, wolf-riding elves (thus the name of Cutter's Tribe, the Wolfriders). Forced into a desert migration by their human enemies, these telepathic elves finally find themselves in the Village of the Sun Folk, another group of elves, burned brown by the sun. It is at this point that 'recognition' is first introduced.
Recognition is the telepathic equivalent of love at first sight with an interesting twist: the two elves that recognise each other have to mate soon or will eventually grow sick and die. Cutter recognises Leetah, the Sun Folk's Healer, who is in love with Rayek, the Sun Folk's chief hunter. Cutter carries Leetah off, much to the annoyance of Rayek. Rayek challenges Cutter to a trial to determine who has the right to woo Leetah. Cutter of course wins, sending Rayek into a spiral of shame, which leads to his eventual self-imposed exile.
This is simply the first chapter of a gripping story.
The Volumes in Order of Appearance
After several years of black and white comics, (1978 to 1984) numbered 20 in all, WaRP Graphics compiled the comics into four colour anthologies, named Fire and Flight, The Forbidden Grove, Captives of Blue Mountain, and Quest's End. Following in 1986 were eight more black and white comics, which were followed yet again in 1988 by nine black and whites. These comics were compiled in colour in the anthologies Siege at Blue Mountain, The Secret of Two-Edge, The Cry from Beyond and Kings of the Broken Wheel.
There are also several other volumes that fall outside the first series of books, which tell the stories of Cutter's children, elves that have never been seen before, stories that weren't elaborated on before, etc. These are the New Blood and The Hidden Years. While most of the stories are not illustrated by Wendy Pini, they are good examples of art and storytelling in and of themselves.
Preservers and Trolls and Elf Tribes - Oh My!
As mentioned before, Cutter is the chief of the Wolfriders, who marries into the Sun Folk's tribe. Cutter is the 11th chief of the Wolfriders, who becomes Cutter Kinseeker because of his quest to find others of his own kind. The other elf tribes within this world are the Gliders, so named because they ride giant birds and can fly using the powers of telekinesis, and the Go-Backs, named for their own quest to go back to the home of their elvish ancestors.
Also on the world of Two Moons (later named Abode) are creatures known as Preservers and Trolls. Preservers resemble fairies, are sexless, shoot webs out of their mouths, and make Yoda from Star Wars look like an erudite public speaker. Trolls are a little more conventional in this world, being hulking grey-green creatures with a penchant for mining and treasure. Also included are animals that are wholly alien yet familiar, such as zwoots, which vaguely resemble horses.