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Moving Right Along...
Summertime, as I have mentioned in other Matters of Opinion, is a crazy time if you work in the comics business. Serious convention traveling starts around Eastertime and proceeds full tilt until about Labor Day. This year I am very much looking forward to Silly Season.
Because we are not going to do it (Well, hardly. We each have one convention we are attending.). And oh, what a relief it is, because it gives us the chance to catch up on about ten years of personal-- and professional-- stuff that has been put off far too long. And the major piece of stuff is (drum roll) a brand new studio for Wendy-- and who knows, maybe an assistant or two-- to work in!
Yes, even as I type these very words, the refurbishing of a much larger-- four or five times the space she had before-- work area is nearly done. Great huge newly painted walls, better lighting, scads of storage space, room for all sorts of tables and drawing boards and easels. Issue #7 of KINGS OF THE BROKEN WHEEL is being done there right now, and we're bath ecstatic at how the new environment is making the work zip. Not to mention that it's a much nicer looking place, and located in a great part of town. Take-out Chinese within walking distance, and lots of room for parties to celebrate the Good Things as they happen. Ah yes, Silly Season without the stress and strain. What a world, what a world.
And Speaking of KINGS #7...
The Creative Process At Work, Part 2 1/2
Often we get letters asking how we come up with the characters's names. It's not simply a matter of looking in the thesaurus for neat-sounding words and stringing them together. Names, as T.S. Eliot intimated, are very important and personal things. We don't give the characters names so much as find them. Sometimes, this namequest takes on amusing overtones.
We were puzzling over the name for Nightfall and Redlance's little girl. Wendy knew that the parents would want to acknowledge and honor Leetah's part in helping to conceive the child, but that's about as far as we'd gotten when we went out to dinner. The ensuing conversation (compressed down from about an hour) went something like this:
"How about 'Beleetah'? It could mean "Gift of the healer."
"Nah, sounds too Middle Eastern, and we're trying to stay away from too-recognizable styles."
"I want to keep some part of Leetah's name in there so readers will know the derivation of the name without having to explain it each time."
"How about, starting it the same but changing the ending? Like, instead of 'Leetah,' something like 'Leetahn' or 'Leetel'?"
"No, that'd be really confusing with Leetah herself. How about just 'Leet' something? Raleet? It would keep that part of Leetah's name that comes from 'light'"
"Yeah, but the elves wouldn't know from 'light.' They'd use their own language, whatever that is."
"OK, well, we know that 'ek' has to do with rocks; Rayek means "of the rock," and there's Ekuar and Mekda and Osek..."
"So what does the rest of Ekuar's name mean?"
"Something to do with shaping."
"Rayek asked that once: 'Do you know what uar is?'"
"Then there's names like Voll, which are really just suggestive, from the sound of them."
"Well, you have Tyldak too. He flies-- and you could say his wings were a gift from Winnowill. Could 'tyl' mean 'gift' in the elves's language?"
"How would that make things?"
"Well, the kid's name could be Tyleet. There's a neat symmetry there. Tyleet's gift came from a healer, Tyldak's came from an anti-healer..."
"Does that mean Tyleet will start calling Leetah her Auntie Healer?"
"Well, Tyldak can certainly call Winnowill his Auntie Maim."
Back Issues of EQ:Kings of the Broken Wheel-- we now have a supply of back issues. These are available for $3.00 each ($4.00 outside of North America). Send orders to Warp Graphics at the address above.
And now back to our regularly scheduled broadcast of "Dueling Letters," already in progress...
I wanted to make a comment about the "if it's not Wendy's art it's not ELFQUEST" commentary in the letters pages of KINGS #6. I totally agree that this is not true and I felt strongly enough that I had to write in and tell you.
To any readers who support that only Wendy can capture the ELFQUEST spirit in art I'd like to refer them to the short piece at the end of Graphic Novel Book 5 entitled "Courage by Any Other Name..." Wendy didn't do the art but, to me, that small little story was truer to ELFQUEST's spirit than perhaps most of SIEGE's story, at least the first part. The art fit right in. I loved it!
As to the story itself, it was good, but the art made it better. We have discovered in all the ELFQUEST story collections-- BLOOD OF TEN CHIEFS-- that the story needn't be done by Wendy and Richard either to be true ELFQUEST, and I say neither does the art. Anyone who can understand and appreciate what ELFQUEST has done for us, and the messages it tries to give, and who has the talent could, I believe, pick up a candle and light it from the Olympic torch. ELFQUEST is a personal story, it speaks to us all, it encourages us to take a good hard look at ourselves and our world and realize that often the things we keep hidden are not so bad after all. It's a special story to keep and treasure and read over and over again. Anyone who understands that has captured the spirit of the true ELFQUEST.
3043 St. Paul Street #3
Baltimore, MD 21218
I must agree with Renee Luke who said that SIEGE AT BLUE MOUNTAIN was done without justice. Until I read her letter I had no idea why the characters were so "stiff." Don't get me wrong, I love the story, but it wasn't Wendy. Period. ELFQUEST is incomplete, "somewhat less than whole," when someone else draws it. And if that means no TV or movie because the characters are "too realistic," then it doesn't need to be on TV.
JoAnn M. Galik
3451 W. 61st Street
Chicago, IL 60629
I've been reading about all this trying to turn ELFQUEST into a movie and everyone making a stick because Wendy wouldn't be doing it. I would just like to say this: ELFQUEST, to me, isn't simply Wendy's wonderful animation. The characters have a life and a depth all their own. The character development is what makes ELFQUEST, ELFQUEST. So what if the elves don't look exactly the same? They'll still be Cutter and Leetah and Skywise. It's silly to make such a fuss over it. People's appearances change from year to year, why not the elves'? I will still love them, and even if they are drawn by someone else, I will always be grateful to Wendy and Richard for bringing this bit of magic into our world. Thank you.
19 Shepard Avenue
Kenmore, NY 11217
So you're finally gonna plunge into the film project and let it happen. I hope that whatever comes of this pleases the both of you. ELFQUEST is your baby. As for fears of "selling out," I think such talk is nonsense. The most recent examples of comics-into-film have been well executed. The big one, BATMAN, contained plenty of changes from the comic that didn't hurt the story, though that property is owned by a corporation that wouldn't fret as much as single creators might. DICK TRACY a altered a lot of the original material to make a fun movie, and that didn't hurt either. I haven't yet seen THE ROCKETEER, but the trailers I've seen make it look very promising, not very compromising.
And now ELFQUEST may become a movie. This isn't selling out. Cashing in, maybe, but there is little wrong with that. I look forward to it, but after waiting nearly as long as the two of you have (I've been reading EQ since 1982), I can continue to wait. At least I don't have to put up with the hassles of negotiations.
Thomas J. White
3816 So. Lamar Blvd. #1805
Austin, TX 78704
As per issue #6: One... Two... Three... breathe! Let go! Ahhhhhh!
Don't worry about a thing. Those of us who have been on the Quest since the first magazine issue all those years ago, trust you. ELFQUEST will always be ELFQUEST no matter what Hollywood does to it. We'll still be here. I've grown up with Cutter and Skywise and I'll be here with them ten years from now.
5729 Hanover Road
Hanover, PA 17331
I would rather have seen you "give up" on the animated film, for it to never be made, than to see you "give in" and let someone else do it wrong. I understand your reasons, I just don't agree with them.
I do not feel enthusiastic to see an ELFQUEST of blended animation and live-action, unless it is done to the original story. I have never understood why a film studio must change the storyline of a popular story to make a film. If not done right, it will kill it.
Example: DOC SAVAGE novels had a huge following and the books sold well. They were written in the 1930s and 1940s but hold up well even today. In 1975 George Pal made a much-awaited film about the first book in the series. In doing so, he took liberties and altered the characters, the plotline, and threw in things that had nothing to do with any of the 182 original stories! The movie was a colossal bomb and the popularity of the series practically died. There are still the solid-core fans who continue to thrive on the original stories, but general interest in the character died.
I'm afraid that this will happen to ELFQUEST: THE MOVIE. Some may argue that it's better to have it shown in any version than not show it at all. I disagree-- I think it may hurt it, especially if it is not a box office hit.
I have recaptured my interest in the graphic novel but I can't say I have much interest in the movie. Sure, I'll see it to see how much they've butchered the story and character development, but I guess the purist in me will always hold to the original. I know you've done what you could to preserve it the best you could, but I think it's wrong just to let someone else have it. That's not giving up the fight, that's giving in to the enemy. I'm sorry, but that's how I feel about the film issue. I'm "breathing," but not any easier.
Ted R Blasingame
PO Box 30578
Midwest City, OK 73140
Hm. It appears that our editorial last issue touched a few hot buttons, and has generated an entire spectrum of responses. Ah well, controversy is good.
I'd like to kick off this reply with something of a parable, taken from personal experience. When I was younger, I used to enjoy the Tom Swift Jr. books. For a ten-year-old interested in science they were a lot of fun. I read nearly the entire series, missing perhaps the last two or three. Then I went on to other things, high school, college, marriage, life. A couple of years ago I ran across those missing volumes in the series, and on a nostalgic whim I bought them. But I couldn't read them; they were from too long ago and I had changed too much-- I enjoy my science these days by Penrose and Feynman and Gould, thanks. Though I still recall it with great fondness, the pre-adolescent thrill I had felt as Tom and his pals zipped around the globe in the Flying Lab was gone. And even though the publisher of those stories tried recently to recreate Tom (his son, actually) as a science-fiction hero for more modern times, I could not read those either. I am out of Tom-Swift mode and for me, it's time to move on.
Point the first: Going to see a movie just to see how much of a disappointment it is, is really not a very good reason to do it, isn't it? Why on earth would anyone deliberately do something that gives no joy?
Point the second: That the Doc Savage movie failed at the box office has nothing at all to do with the deviations that George Pal and his team made from the source material. It was just not a well-made movie. Had it had the internal integrity that, say, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK did, it would have been a blockbuster. Doc Savage as Indiana Jones would have worked; only Doc's fans-- a tiny fraction of movie goers-- would have known the difference, and only those few resistant to change would have complained.
Point the third: ELFQUEST is a story about growth and change. Over the years we've taken the characters from a basically idyllic setting and put them through the mill; life has a tendency to do that to most of us anyway, and we've always maintained that ELFQUEST is a metaphor. Many of the characters have evolved, some more readily than others, and some will only change if they are dragged to it, kicking and screaming. But the essence of ELFQUEST is growth; without that, the story would have screeched to a halt somewhere around issue #3 of the original series.
And point the fourth and final: We want to thank everyone who wrote letters of support, who understood what we said, and more importantly what we did not say. We did not say we were giving ELFQUEST away to anyone, or relinquishing our very deep interest in ensuring a good product, whatever form it might take. "Letting go", on the other hand, is one of the most powerful concepts there is, in the realm of spirit and healing. It allows life to go on; Just ask Clearbrook and Strongbow. Or, to paraphrase an observation from Leetah, when you can see that, then you'll truly be master of your fate.
Time paradoxes. Ooo. Nasty stuff. Somehow, though, I knew it had to happen. The story of the High Ones tells of how the castle was thrown back in time. But I still don't understand how they plan to go forward to meet it. OK, granted it was done before, but that was in a storm with a whole bunch of experienced "guiders" and their magic. Is Rayek that strong? He said that the cry will be his "torch" to guide him. I dunno.
Aroree doesn't present much of a threat, but Kahvi's scheming could help the Wolfriders in the long run. She carries the responsibility of revenge for her whole tribe. That's an awful big load to carry, but I know that she will get the better of Rayek. It seems that out dear Rayek has set himself up for destruction, and for some odd reason, I'm looking forward to it.
The projected cover of the next issue scares me. Here are the two things that Cutter and Skywise are never without, just lying abandoned in the snow. And the tree. Hmmm... could this be the tree that the Go-Backs keep track of time on? I knew it looked familiar. But there's no blood. Why would Cutter and Skywise just... (I know, shut up and wait and see.) Keep track of time? Significance?? Maybe it's just symbolism. You knew this would bug us for months. It's what you live for, isn't it? AAARRRRGGGHHHH!!
2960 Chicago Street
San Diego, CA 92117
NNNOOOOO! Rayek, you selfish, slimy, deranged pig! How could you? How could you leave Cutter behind while taking his family and "brother in all but blood"? How?!? And how can you two keep doing this to me? I just got KINGS #6 in the mail and read it and reread it and how am I gonna survive until the next one? Ohmygod the look on Cutter's face! Total and utter despair and the world crumbling around his pointed ears. How could Rayek do that to Leetah, not including Cutter? Rayek sounds remarkably like Winnowill when he's spouting his arrogant, self-righteous "I pity you, wolf chief (a Winnie-ism!), that this is your be-all and end-all." Ugh. And the look on Rayek's face when he says that-- I want to punch him out! And then Rayek reverts to cheap insults? How do you manage to make a character that I feel sorry for and like at one moment, but then hate his guts the next? Speaking of looks on faces, in that last horror and astonishing scene, Picknose looks like he's actually sad or horrified or wants his daughter back or whatever. That's the first time I've ever seen him without a scowl. Wow-- ol' Picky has feelings!
82 Mentor Blvd.
North York, Ontario
Just when I thought you couldn't kick my ass any more! But that's exactly like Rayek, doing without thinking, and not listening to anyone who doesn't support his arrogant ego. After all Winnowill's done to him, you'd think he'd have the sense to be just a little wary of her. And if he had waited, he'd realize she was wrong about Savah too. Savah once said "My mother and I" founded Sorrow's End. But as you said in Gatherum 2, the High Ones didn't remember how to have kids until after the crash. No crash, no children, no Savah. That, I'd bet money, would make Rayek wait a little longer. He'd wipe out the twins too, come to think of it, because if they didn't take Cutter back, he couldn't father the kids, and there goes his precious Suntop.
Speaking of kids and Rayek, was Kahvi only playing soft for Savah to get favor for her girl, or did she really mean all that about "sharing their trials"? And Aroree's gotten soppier than a Hallmark card, you know that?
5877 Whippoorwill Hollow
Milford, OH 45150
Kahvi has gotten so slinky in this issue. I've always considered her one of the sexiest characters in the book (although Leetah still has my undying devotion). In a rough, in-your-face way, Kahvi projects sensuality.
Aroree, however, seems to be whining a bit too much. Sure, she's had the rug pulled out from under her, but wandering around in a daze helps nothing.
The bit between Savah and Aroree "looking eye to eye" was classic!
My earlier comment about making love to your enemy was corrected in this issue when Cutter finally brought out into the open the truth we've known all along. Love is never enough for Rayek. He and Winnowill (may her newfound gills close up) have something going, and that is an essential part of the great mystery you've set up for us. Congratulations.
2199 N.W. Everett #108
Portland, OR 97210
And now Part Two of the Great Elfquest House-cleaning Sale, otherwise known as "The Joy of Sets."
I have run across a few complete sets of the original Warp Graphics series (issues 1-21), a few complete sets of SIEGE AT BLUE MOUNTAIN (issues 1-8), and several complete sets of the Marvel reprint ELFQUEST series (issues 1-32). These are all in near-mint to mint condition, and and for sale as sets only. Most, but not all, of these are first printings. I also have unearthed copies of the very first appearance of Elfquest, in FANTASY QUARTERLY #1, also in near-mint condition. Prices are as follows (including postage and handling): Original ELFQUEST #1-21, the set $200.00. SIEGE AT BLUE MOUNTAIN #1-8, the set $50.00. Marvel Elfquest #1-32, the set $80.00. Fantasy Quarterly #1, $50.00. First come, first served; money orders preferred; checks must clear our bank. Make payment to "Richard Pini" and send to the address at the top of the letters pages. Thank you all.