Before we get into the letter column, a word from the Ed Koch ("How'm I doing?") Department.
This issue marks the end of our six issue WaveDancers miniseries. Right about now, we here at Warp Graphics are looking at the totality of our first foray into "now for something completely different" with a mixture of excitement and a touch of trepidation. This is the first time Warp has done a trial miniseries, and the question that is on everyone's mind is, will there be more issues of WaveDancers? That's something you can tell us. Let us know what you think, what you like. Is the World of Two Moons ready for further adventures of aquatic elves?
In the meantime, our thanks to Julie, Jozef and Bruce, the creative team from "down under," for their unique contribution to the Elfquest tapestry. We enjoyed having the chance to work with this crew from halfway around the world and wish them all the best of luck in future endeavors.
And while we're waiting here for your bouquets and brickbats on the WaveDancers, here are a couple of letters from that same Oz... - RP
Date: 15-Aug-94 04:27 EDT
Subj: Wave Dancers 5
Time for my critique on issue #5 of WAVE DANCERS. In general, the past two issues have been quite good. As a consequence, any comments or suggestion I have might tend to be a little more specific and, potentially, picky. So, like I say, I am happy with the latest WD. On to specifics...
The first page I liked, for a couple of reasons. It gave us a brief view of the shore from a fish's perspective (which, in conjunction with the next panel, gave what I thought was an effective issue introduction, story-wise) and it gave us a glimpse of some of the oceanic life on Abode. Like land animals, there's no reason why the aquatic life on Abode should be exactly the same as its Terran counterpart. The eel-creatures look a little fanciful, but the impression they conjure is great. I'd like to see more of the elves underwater, with the sea life, if possible. I want to see how the elves interact with their environment.
The seduction scene on the following pages was a little annoying for me, however. I've noticed that a number of comics purporting to appeal to mature audiences are still a little coy about sex and language, and I'm still not sure how EQ wants to portray such things. During the scene between Jormak and Winnowill, her nipples were always tastefully and conveniently obscured by hands, hair or whatever was appropriate. And yet, later when Winnowill's being bathed, there's no discrete censorship at all. I'm not a sex maniac who needs to see naked breasts, but deliberate, seemingly contrived conservatism really does grate. If EQ feels that they don't want to depict that sort of scene, that's fair enough; that's an editorial/artistic decision that you have to make. If that's the case, I'd prefer to see such scenes depicted off stage so there's no pretense of being risque without revealing anything.
That aspect of the scene aside, the art did seem to depict the elves, (particularly Winnowill's) relaxed and at ease with their own bodies. Another thing, which I've noticed with WD is the hair. It might sound like a small thing, but I've liked the variety of hair styles that the WDs have and I also like the way that Winnowill's hair, in particular, is looking "stringier", for want of a better word. I assume this is because it's often wet and wind-swept, with the elves living on the coast.
As to the actual story content of that scene, it was interesting. Winnowill's trying to get herself a power-base here, and (for the moment) she can't use brute force to get it.
Still haven't got Sydor sussed out. He wants us to believe that he's a High One, but I'm not so sure. The image of the palace as a crystal sphere (even without the blood) doesn't seem to gel with any image I'd seen of it before, and it doesn't match Tentus's (?) recollection either. Sydor seems fairly concerned with the purity of the elves.
Genetically, they all seem to be full-blooded elves. Those with tails are the result of shape-changing, not breeding. So, I'm a little dubious about him, all round. Does he genuinely have a problem with them? (This, I'd find surprising given that the coneheads could use any shape they wanted) Or, does he just need someone to hate, someone to blame for what happened to the elves on Abode?
That also reminds me: how many generations of elves have passed before WDs? Being true elves, they could all be High Ones or first-born. However, I get the impression, from their personalities, that this is generally a very young group of elves.
Back to Sydor's scene: Korillia's background has been revealed, a little, now. The magic pool makes sense, and is consistent with other EQ stories, including the origin of the Madcoil. Likewise, I can understand why she'd be upset that she's barren and, in light of Sydor's ravings, be worried that the world might be the cause of it. Dramatically, I would have liked to have seen this scene done a smidgen differently, though. I'd have liked to have seen a one panel flashback depicting the change, perhaps with her mum tossed around the whirlpool, with an octopus or something in the background.
While I remember, I am slightly uncomfortable about the build of elves, as depicted in WD, in general. They seem impossibly slender, in most cases. I know the elves are generally thin, but I haven't decided whether the WD look is because of a slightly different artistic style or if all elves are that thin, but they generally wear more clothes.
Inkbottom's disappearance prompts me to wonder: what exactly has happened to the kids that have disappeared? Actually, that reminds me. In this issue, in particular, sub-plots and teasers seem to be handled much better, giving a smoother feel to the story-telling. It's frustrating (in a nice way) that much of what is revealed prompts me to ask other questions. I don't feel as if I'm being spoon-fed questions without answers.
Raenafel looks a little less like the Little Mermaid in this issue, which is a good thing, particularly if she's to be an on-going character. It also tends to enhance the similarities between her and Winnowill. I'm not quite sure what I want to see happen between her, Barmek and Sleia. Barmek and Sleia seem more like a real couple than him and Raenafel.
I don't know what seeing the stone from Blue Mountain means to Raenafel. I'm going to have to reserve judgement on that until next issue. It depends on how much she knows about other tribes of elves, perhaps.
I'm a little hazy about the mechanics of Recognition, which makes me a little unsure of Barmek and Raenafel's problem in resisting it. I guess my question is: what's involved in satisfying the demands of Recognition. Does it require a minimum length of time? Will one session of love-making result in a child (which seems to be implied by some of the other Recognitions around the place) or do they have to keep at it until they get it right? The reason I ask is that it occurs to me that they might have been able to sort something out and still be able to travel. Of course, this is all very personal to the elves. They may not want to exclude Sleia or make her uncomfortable about the situation. I dunno.
The scene at the start of the Sea Hunt makes a good family shot. I'm not sure what's achieved by letting Jormak lead the hunt, though. I guess I'll have to wait until next issue.
Phew! That's all I can think of, at the moment. When I get the final issue, I'll be reading the whole story again, to see how it flows from start to finish. I imagine that may give me a slightly different impression of how the story hangs together. Until then... Sun and Salt Water. (I like that phrase.)
Mark "Scunge" Wann
Subj: WaveDancers No. 5
As usual (it seems) Mark has managed to write his review on the latest EQ offering waaayyy before me. I suppose it must reflect on the amount of work he has to do! I was going to make my own small critique on WD #5 but now that I've read his letter I think I'll use it is a mirror for my own commentary.
>Time for my critique on issue #5 of WAVEDANCERS...
Personally I find that things from those first issues now make more sense when seen in the light of the last two. It's not that I couldn't follow what was going on but I can look back now and notice stuff that I'd over-looked. The relationship between Maron and Paffa for one!
>The first page I liked, for a couple of reasons. It gave us a brief view of the shore...
I have to echo the request to see the WD's in their environment. They would have to be one of the most unique tribes on Abode and I for one really enjoy the way Jozef depicts their world. How do they relate to the rest of their environment? Just what can they achieve in the water? What are the creatures they have to deal with? Do they just hunt with dolphins or do they have a deeper relationship (like the WR's bonding?). How do they relate to other "intelligent" sea life (whales, orca, seals, otters etc.)
>I still haven't got Sydor sussed out...
Sydor has got me really puzzled. At first I believed that he *couldn't* be a High One because Timmain must surely be unique. Then, when he goes and describes the palace in a form it took to travel between the stars I wonder just how he could have got that sort of information. Whatever else he may be believe that just like Winnowill he isn't wholly "evil" but simply an individual in need of healing. Physiological illness seem to be the way of any elfin adversary.
Maybe his problem with the "impure" WaveDancers is really some kind of aggression transference stemming from his time on the island in the Vast-Deep Water. I'd like to know why he was there in the first place. Did somebody "put" him there like Winnowill? How did he travel from there back to the mainland? Questions, questions.
>Inkbottom's disappearance prompts me to wonder...
I hate to think what has happened to the other squirts *but* listen up guys... I *hate* to see anything bad happening to children and if Winno-afel or Sydor have done anything to Inkbottom (who is just too cute for words) then... then.. I don't know what I'll do but it'll be trouble!!
Seriously though, I do feel like I'm now finally getting to know the WaveDancers. Characterization is one of *the* most important aspects of the EQ universe (I like to think of it now as WoTMiverse.) We love to understand what makes them tick and from there become... I don't know... personally involved in there lives. Small pieces of the puzzle like that talk between Jormak and his farther are what I love. Having said that I find that sometimes so much more can be read from facial expression and reactions in one panel then a whole page of text. I look for this kind interaction every time I read any EQ issue. WD's is going from strength to strength in both these departments.
>I don't know what seeing the stone from Blue Mountain means to Raenafel...
Raenafel would seem to me to be one of the elves with power. We know she's a Healer, maybe this will include Flesh-Shaper as well. Somebody needs to be able to give the others their tails. Anyway, from that scene where she catches the piece of Blue Mountain and has a vision of danger (she even sees its form) it suggests to me that there is even more to Raenafel then we have guessed.
>The scene at the start of the Sea Hunt makes a good family shot...
It's the honor of it all Mark! Hyfus deserved to lead this last hunt before he gives Winno-afel leadership of the tribe. He's lead the tribe well in the absence of the True Crown and it's something he's probably "owed". Hey, he even won the Big Race in issue No. 1 so he's probably the best one for the job as well. Winno-afel just wanted to puff up Jormak's ego some more and prove her power over the tribe in doing so.
>Sun and Salt Water. (I like that phrase.)
Surf and Zinc Cream!! (I prefer that one.)
And that about wraps that up. I can't say "See you in 60" just yet, as the fate of the WaveDancers does rest somewhat in the hands of each and every one of you out there. Write! Write! Write! We've got ideas for stories and we'd love to tell them. So be sure to watch all the other ELFQUEST titles for further word about the WaveDancers - and we'll see you... when we see you! - RP