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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

ElfQuest Things

Boing Boing posted a link to ElfQuest, stating that it was being put online for free. A friend of mine had said a long while ago in that the comic had been a change of direction in his life, and a major contributor of where he is currently. I think I half-remembered this conversation on reading the entry from Cory Doctorow, and decided I should definitely check it out.

By late Saturday night I had finished the original series - though because issues 11-20 aren't on the web site yet I had to resort to slightly less legal means of acquiring it. Still, needless to say, I'm now a huge fan, and I'll be anxiously awaiting the rest of the series going online.

So, what makes the series awesome? No spoilers to worry about - it's pretty simple, really.

First off, the art is just ridiculously cool. The series was originally released in 1978, as artist Wendy Pini put it "as a love letter to Japan." She got into manga before it was cool, and her art style was a fusion of western and eastern influences.

Secondly, the world it's set in is amazing. The World of Two Moons is an alternate Earth, but the setting is in the Cromagnon era. There aren't knights and castles all over the place, and in fact no society is advanced past the tribal stage. The main characters are a group of hunter-gatherer elves who have bonded with a pack of dire wolves for mutual protection and survival.

Third, I fell in love with the characters. They are fleshed-out and develop over time. No one in the series is one-dimensional, and as events appear throughout the story we get to explore how the characters react to different scenarios, and see the various sides of these creatures.

Fourth, the story itself isn't one-dimensional. There's no clear Aesop after any given part of the story or after the whole. It kept me guessing (often wrongly) throughout the whole thing. Additionally, it doesn't 'talk down' to the reader as Wendy put it. There are violence and sex, but they are not gratuitous, and the comic doesn't flinch away from them.

Elfquest was quite a ride, and it really made my weekend. I've been hesitantly suggesting it to friends - I think it's great, but I recognize that it might just appeal to my unusual sensibilities. So, if you're interested, check it out at the link above.

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