30 Years of ElfQuest: A Tribute
by Myna Branham (Faerie_speak)
So, here's what I learned from Redlance: if the seed is planted too shallow, the roots can't get a good grip in the soil, and can wither. If the seed is planted too deeply, the stalk is never strong enough to push its way to the sunlight and it can smother. It needs help to thrive and grow and eventually change. So, too, it is with humans.
Thirty-one years ago, there was no such thing as a successful independent comic. Comics were dismissed as children's junk food for the mind. The plots were mistakenly thought to be simple and contrived: the good guys always won, no one ever died in battle, and there was no real sacrifice involved.
Thirty years ago, a new comic entitled "ElfQuest" graced the shelf and cleared up a lot of mistaken beliefs about comics. Intricate plots were woven in with a distinctive and innovative art style the Western world had not seen before. Plus: elves that ride wolves, dance in a desert, and tame huge birds while living in a freaking mountain - how cool is that?
There are some people who have grown up with ElfQuest; they waited sixty days to find out what happened next, back in the day when it was a bi-monthly comic in black and white. They were the fans who turned to ElfQuest for a solace. They read it and it touched some part of their lives, made their bad days better, and their good days more enjoyable.
There are others, like me, who stumbled upon the comic by chance after it was readily available. I remember my first distinct thought after finishing "Journey to Sorrow's End" was... "And why did no one tell me about this beforehand?" Sure, my parents taught me the basics about looking both ways before I cross the street, and never eat the small, colorful soap in the guest bathrooms. But ElfQuest, I am sure, would have been a literary staple in my young life had I known about it sooner. In less than a year, these elves have taught me what my parents have tried to do for years: life isn't fair, your dreams are worthwhile but will take time to make into a reality, and change is a scary thing, but you have got to learn how to grow with it instead of against it.
The very idea of ElfQuest represents change, realizing a dream and doing what you can to make it real. A dream is the same as a newly budded plant stalk. Weak and thin when it first begins, but if cultivated, it thrives and blossoms into an amazing accomplishment. For thirty years, what started as a small, unknown comic has "blossomed" into a work of art that has become part of so many lives.
We humans think that our money, our titles, and our corporate buildings will last forever, but they won't. Those things don't grow, they simply crumble to the ground after a period of time. It's not what people will remember; they'll remember what they've learned from.
I've learned a lot from these characters, these elf-muses. Through their trials and triumphs, I can't even tell you how many times I've laughed hysterically or started crying over the simplest of panels because I know that same longing as Nightfall, or I understand what it feels like to second guess the decisions I have made for someone else's greater good like Cutter. I feel for these elves (and even the trolls at times); I want them to succeed, be safe, be happy. As they grow, so do we, the readers. My "stalk" is just starting out, I'm not a very strong person yet, but their actions, these elves, make me re-think my own sometimes, and I can't help but feel very grateful for that. Is it strange to feel indebted to a rather large grouping of elves?
So to Wendy and Richard and everyone at WARP Comics, this howl is for you all, elf and human: thank you for encouraging people to follow their dreams and ideas, to grow and work with change.