First, some announcements...
About the Elfquest Videotapes-- this will be the last update on this product. On October 31, 1991, the license to produce these videotapes expired, and we still have no information concerning them. The 800-822-1105, Operator 45 phone number reports that it no longer handles information about the videos. This leaves the 818-584-4048 number. Should you wish a refund, and do not get satisfaction, standard procedure is to contact your local postmaster for advice.
ELFQUEST back issues--we still have all back numbers of KINGS OF THE BROKEN WHEEL available. While they last, they are $3.00 apiece ($4.00 each outside North America, U.S. funds only please) which includes postage and handling, payable to "Warp Graphics."
Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Ernest Goes To Summer Camp. Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. Hoppity Goes To Town.
Wendy Goes Bionic.
On or about the time you read these words, Elfquest's chief number one artist and keeper of the bristol board and India ink will be finishing a quest of her own, one that has been no few years in the making.
Some of you, who have been with us from the days of the original Elfquest series, will recall that soon after the final issue of that story appeared, in late 1984, Wendy went into hospital to have reconstructive surgery done on her left hip. This was done in an attempt to correct a congenital defect known as dysplasia, which is a two-dollar way of saying that the ball-and-socket of the hip joint was not seated as fully as it should have been. The operation was a major one, lasting nine very long hours. It was also quite a new procedure, in which the very bone of the hip socket was cut into pieces and refitted, with steel pins and wires, into a better shape to cup and cover the head of the femur. The theory was that this would provide more support for the leg, and lessen or possibly even eliminate the pain that Wendy had been coping with for several years. If you have arthritis, or know someone who does, you know about constant pain, and I think it's some kind of tribute to Wendy that the doctors who examined her call her a bumblebee. (Bumblebees, according to the old saw, shouldn't be able to fly; and Wendy shouldn't have been able to do all the things she taught herself to do through the pain, but she's like that.)
Anyway, that was the theory, and for a while it was borne out, in that there was more support and some lessening of the pain. The surgeon who developed the procedure felt strongly that it was better to use the natural bone and cartilage as building material, rather than metal and plastic, and we agreed with him at the time.
Wendy especially felt strongly about that part of it; she has been on an odyssey of healing work for several years and knows that the mind and body working together can truly produce miracles. But in the end, nature could only provide so much; the cartilage in the joint wore away and the inflammation returned and worsened.
The thing about hip replacements is that most bone surgeons will cheerfully do the operation on you if you're 60 years old, but they balk if you're 40. They think you're too young, and caution that you may need a replacement replacement in twenty or so years. Wendy had concerns about this until she started talking with others who had had the operation; everyone told her to just go ahead and do it. After it was over, she'd wonder why she waited, they all said. And besides, the bumblebee really wants to get back to doing those "impossible" things that we both enjoy again, like dancing and long walks. So finally, she took the reins, decided it was OK to have some metal parts, and made the appointment. Wendy goes bionic.
(Me, I've never had concerns about getting new body parts should I ever need 'em, but then, I'm used to doing my own car work. If ever I need a joint replacement to give this organic chassis some more miles, I'm going to try my best to get that sucker chrome plated, and maybe a little pinstriping as well.)
Some of you may be starting to make the connection between what I'm saying here, and the fact that the last couple of issues have been three months apart instead of two. Wendy has, in fact, been on or ahead of schedule all along. But since she will need some time in December and January to recuperate, ye publisher is stretching out the publication schedule to buy that "cushion." So take that, you who've said Warp Graphics can't stay on track!
You can't have been reading ELFQUEST for any length of time-- even if you came on board with KINGS OF THE BROKEN WHEEL-- and not know the store that we put by the concepts of healing, and spirit, and the support of friends and tribesmates. Should you feel the urge to send some healing energy Poughkeepsie-ward over the next month or three, we'd be thankful. If you care to wrap a card or note around it, even better. If you've been through this operation and want to share your experience, better still. Just send whatever to the "Elf-Addressed" address and we'll get it.
From a whole bunch of readers...
"Oh God! I hated KINGS OF THE BROKEN WHEEL #7!"
"I can't stand it!"
"You'd better fix this!"
"The wait until next issue is killing me!"
"Ooohhh, how could you??"
"NO! You just cannot do this!"
"Hey! This is not fair!"
"Oh, no! No! NO!!"
"What are you trying to do, give me an ulcer? I grew up with Cutter and the Wolfriders, suffered, cried, laughed, danced, and hunted with them from the beginning, and now do I die with them?"
Much as I would like to sit here in front of you all (metaphorically, anyway), blink my eyes winsomely, and ask, "Why, whatever are you talking about?" I'd never get away with it. The mail on KINGS #7 was/is impassioned and a wonder to read, and we thank everyone who wrote. Onward...
When I was younger, I never thought about growing up. I never thought about the responsibilities of life; I never worried about tomorrow. I suppose it was my way of living in the "now of wolf thought." Now, here I am, my first year of college. I am one of the few, lucky artists who was accepted this year in the Character Animation program at CalArts. And because I am studying to be an animator and I understand a little about the business, I think I'm qualified to tell you, Wendy, that Hollywood can never take ELFQUEST away from you. You and Richard made it into what it is, and the "business" can never change that. They may try. They may distort it for reasons Hollywood has been known for: profit. But ELFQUEST's spirit is in you. That is where the true life lies, and no animator in the world can emulate that. But what they can do is show other people, who have never been exposed to the actual magic, what ELFQUEST is about. That way, more people will want to explore your world. The animators will do their job, but they will never capture the real magic. But I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.
Now for the true reason I wrote this letter. I have been a loyal fan for more years than I can relate. I grew up with ELFQUEST. Wendy, you were one of my first art teachers. And throughout this time, I have never once been inspired to write to you. Oh, there were many times when I thought about it, but I never sat down and did it... until now. It's Cutter, you see. He has always been my favorite character. I have watched him grow over the years with what could only be described as a motherly pride. (As if I were the one who created him... shame on me!) There's not one part of him that I don't love or respect. That's why it hurts so much to see him in pain. KINGS #7 broke my heart! My friends couldn't understand when they found me bawling at my studio desk last night. What aches me more, is the fact that his sorrow is so apparent in the art. The way he moves, the way he speaks, hell! The light has gone from his eyes! The artist in me says, "How marvelous! How simply gorgeous that the art and story can reflect such deep and inner feelings such as these!" Wendy, you are truly a marvel! I hope I can capture some of that magic in my own creations some day, the way you do with ELFQUEST. Please be kind to my Cutter. I don't think I could emotionally survive another episode like this one.
24700 McBean Parkway
Valencia CA 91355
I howl for Cutter!! For his loss, which would have broken a lesser spirit (including probably mine), and for his strength to go on. Cutter exemplifies all that is good and admirable in us, all that we'd like to be. Thank you for issue #7, the most evocative and heartbreakingly beautiful chapter to date, and I mean since the beginning! This is no hyperbole, Wendy-- what poets like Shakespeare accomplish with words, you do with images.
I have absolutely no clue as to where this tale will go next, but I do see the "broken wheel" taking shape in the time paradox. Again, thank you for a truly wonderful issue!
Yvette L. Kirby
2825 N.E. 12th St., #101
Renton WA 98056
Hoo. Color me impressed. KINGS #7 is of a grim poignancy I've yet to see approached by any modern fantasy I've picked up lately. Thank you for such uncompromising realism. It constitutes a great deal about what I love about ELFQUEST.
How cruel, though, that Cutter should be robbed of his family, cheated out of watching his cubs grow and mature. And that his gift, the imagination that renders him incapable of losing himself in the wolfsong, should work against him so ironically. The bitterness is nearly unbearable; Cutter's remembrances are more sorrow than any feeling being should have to endure. However, I've an idea that we Questers are only going to see more of that grief from Leetah, Skywise, the twins, and even Rayek, in issue #8
With the bitter comes the sweet-- Tyleet is wonderful! The scene where she asks Cutter about Ember is heart-wrenching.
Venka, Venka, Venka, Venka! She's amazing! Undoubtedly my greatest joy of this installment. Exactly as I pictured the daughter of two long-time favorites. Heh heh, looks like ol' Winnow-wicked got a bit more out of Rayek's "ill-conceived" daughter than she bargained for. (Now that our friendly neighborhood anti-healer has ostensibly sprouted gills, can we call her Minnow-will?)
Regarding Rayek. If Skywise is my favorite because of his endearing, all-around fabulosity, then Rayek must be the one I love in spite of myself. He is, was, and always will be beloved to me, thought I couldn't say why. My friends, equally loyal Questers, don't like him. I adamantly disagree with his actions. Yes I, like Zhantee, am one of those who admires, even like him. Page 5 put a bit of a strain on my affection, admittedly, but I vow always to remain Sharpdark Highthing's devoted fan.
Which is not to say I won't enjoy seeing Venka wipe the palace floor with his ass...
321 Dewey Street
Morgantown WV 26505
I meant to wait with this letter until I got my hands on a new issue, but my personal quest for another store that stocks your KINGS series has so far been fruitless, so here goes.
Cutter is too predictable. He can seemingly do no wrong. Even his explosions at the end of SIEGE worked out in everybody's best interests. Just once, I'd like to see him lose control over the consequences of his actions. This isn't likely to happen as long as your conflicts remains as black and white as they have been until now, There's always a right side (whichever side Cutter's on) and a wrong side. If only real life were that clear cut.
And what about some of your other characters? Skywise's quick wit seems to have abandoned him completely. What happened to the strong-willed and independent Leetah of your earlier issues? And little Suntop? This is his third haunting by nightmarish visions. Is that all you can think of for him? I long for the day when someone we thought we knew does something seemingly completely out of character.
Part of the problem is clearly the extreme turn the story has taken. It's like (an earlier) complaint about the troll war. The small, familiar details tend to drown in the face of the monumental events you're dealing with now. There are few side-tracks from the main plot, which may explain why you no longer give each issue individual titles. And I'd say it is getting preachy. Too many lines are delivered as if we're supposed to attach some profound importance to them, while it's getting harder and harder to relate both to the characters and the story. (To quote one of your better issues: "How long can we keep spouting this swamp rot?")
To be fair, though, one incident in KINGS certainly did sting me: Skywise's loss of his wolf. Not so much when I read it first, as a couple of months later when something similar happened here. He was a German Pointer, only seven months old.
One more thing that bothers me: ELFQUEST seems to be increasingly plagued with old cliches. The final issue of SIEGE had more than I care to mention, plus proof that it's perfectly possible for a comic book character to overact. KINGS started out with lines like, "The air shimmers and tingles, etc." However, your Number One overused effect has to be your obsession with eyes. At the end of KINGS #5 you had that moment of interaction between Skywise and Timmain. Immediately afterwards (even if it's in the next issue) you have almost the same scene with Rayek and Timmain. For this to be effective you must use it more sparingly. Although it had nothing to do with ELFQUEST, I'd like to pass on an opinion by the late author Roald Dahl. The part of your face that really expresses your emotions is not your eyes. It's your mouth. It's one of those obvious things that I needed to get pointed out, but he's perfectly right.
I'll continue to buy your stories whenever I get the chance. However, I think that to prevent them from slipping into a perpetual stasis, only sustained by superficial plot twists (like going from time travel to even more outrageous concepts like alternate realities), you have to rethink some of the fundamental premises of the story. I don't know, but maybe what the series really needs is some influence from other writers.
N-5084 Tertnes, Norway
I just finished reading KINGS OF THE BROKEN WHEEL #7 and wanted to throw my hat into the ring, so to speak. Your portrayal of time's progression and the growth of the Wolfrider tribe was deeply moving, and will always be one of the handful of issues that stands out from among them all, since the original #1.
Now I'm going to explain why I've left ELFQUEST fandom.
Recently I chuckled over an account of the "ELFQUEST party gripe session" at this year's San Diego ComiCon, where fans announced, "I never read the new ELFQUEST any more-- the stories am all repetitive and confused" and "Wendy's drawing has gone downhill-- she's sold out to Hollywood standards, and the characters don't look like themselves any more." And there's the absurd furor over artists working with Wendy on issues-- well of course they look different; what doesn't change shape? The market on Reason was not cornered, obviously. I appreciated your comments in #7 about individual style, and encouraging acceptance of Wendy's future assistants (especially when your animation project finally rolls). As an artist who works for bread and rent, I vote to hire lots of talented folks. Everybody needs work; you've always taken fine care of your creation, and I trust you always will.
The most revealing criticism of all that I've heard was "It's really a shame when fandom outshines the story that inspired it." I became involved in ELFQUEST fandom a few years ago, and owe it credit for motivating me to draw once more after a long slump. I found many pen-pal/acquaintances, and my characters loved, wept, fought to survive, and "took on lives of their own." Occasionally, a few of us would venture out from behind our characters's facades, to become real friends and to support each other. But I think that the fans who claim originality (or even superiority) overly flatter themselves, when all their sweat and energy boils down to a mere imitation of your story. I share the effort with those who shed their "training wheels" and embark on a new quest for their own ideas. Those who've terminally parked their imaginations in the World of Two Moons, dreaming their lives as "pseudo-Wolfriders, more daring than Cutter's tribe" or "near-High Ones, brewing up intrigue like Blue Mountain never knew" ...I hope they'll one day shake themselves awake and be humans again.
I may be mistaken, but it's been my belief that like all good fiction, ELFQUEST isn't intended to supplant real life-- rather, isn't it a mirror held to our own world and an allegory of our own self-quests? To me, that's where your story shines most brightly. Keep up the good work. Although I'm no longer a fan, I remain one of your admiring readers. And by the way, Tyleet is positively pinchable!
1633 S.E. Washington
Portland OR 97214
Y'know, a few years ago, I read an article in TV GUIDE criticizing the way one of their reviewers treated the Saturday morning "Dungeons and Dragons" show. I believe it went something like: "Your reviewer gave high marks to "Mr. T", saying it provided a positive message for kids, but he found "D&D" 'unappetizing.' In most episodes of "D&D" the villain is defeated with kindness and sharing, whereas in most "Mr. T" shows the villain is hit or similarly attacked."
Quite possibly the most interesting argument for the ends justifying the means. I think that was where I really started to have the hard-line ethics I have now. I mean, you've got to look at the whole picture before you decide anything. Captain Toney, our unit chaplain, visited my apartment back in January, and I had up a few ELFQUEST posters that I'd made. Naturally, he mentioned the "demonic" appearance of the elves, but I offered to him that that wasn't the gist of EQ; you mustn't judge by appearances, but by what's inside. You've got to look past the pointy ears and into the souls, the gentleness inside. The posters, by the way, were mainly of Redlance, my fave elfie, tied only with Ember. Personally, I got tired of coming home from school to watch the cartoons where the characters came out at the end to explain the moral of the story to the kids; that's mainly an advertisement directed at the adults. "Hey, we're conveying a message here! We should stay on the air!" Crockoshit.
Well, now we have two sides to the issue of an ELFQUEST movie. Grand. There are those who are having hemorrhages over the possibility that the film won't be "true" to the EQ mythos and legend; there are those who will accept your decisions simply on the basis that they love EQ. Now, for a moment, let's think about the former group. Out there in the murky soup of EQ fandom, there are elves with feline blood, with all manner of magical powers, with unspeakably long and ridiculous hair, soul names spelled in Gaelic (though such a language is not even around yet, and on a different planet anyway), and other, even less credible phantasms. A lot of EQ fans flock to this kind of thing. Their creativity, disregarding the fundamentals of the mythos, is what counts.
Wendy and Richard Pini, however, do not have such rights. They have responsibilities to us fans and they cannot deviate from what we want. More crockoshit. ELFQUEST must stay one way, period. Wendy cannot surprise us, nor deny us, lest we leave in a huffy fluster of displeasure. Gads, if the Pinis put restrictions on fanclub holts like holt members put on them, no EQ fandom would exist, save for those members who are talented enough to keep up with Wendy. That seems to be the big thing-- nobody else can do what Wendy does, so I won't buy it if it happens.
Good heavens, people! Lighten up! For the record, I'll go into the movie with open eyes, and open arms, because ELFQUEST isn't around just to please me, but many lives and loves.
And don't take shit off nobody.
PSC Box 6485
Goodfellow AFB TX 76908
Rest in Peace: Nonna, Adar, Olbar, Geoki, et al.
8304 Fairview Road
Elkins Park PA 19117
As I already mentioned, the sentiments you've shared with us are incredible; don't stop! Even though next issue wraps up the current story, we've got a ton more stories to tell-- in issue #10, and #11, and... See you then!