Comics · Fantasy · Queer

A to Z: Elfquest

ElfquestBehold, Elfquest, a beautifully drawn comic from Wendy and Richard Pini. It’s been ongoing since 1978! It’s sort of a D&D-esque thing with a central tribe of elves, outcast by the humans. Lots and lots of arcs, but I’m told it’s heading toward a completion — a beginning, middle, and end, all planned from the start. A pretty big cult hit, according to the internet. As a disclaimer, I’m not very far into the series. It’s freakin’ huge. But I kinda love it. There’s a small story behind this recommendation… A coworker, a woman older than me who I don’t even know particularly well, told me to read it. She said for its time, it was very progressive on racial issues “and even gender issues… they had to be pretty subtle about it then, but more so now.” So, that piqued my interest in a big way, since this was a person who didn’t even know that I seek out LGBT+ comics!

In the modern comics, I’m told the elves are confirmed to be omnisexual and polyamorous. It’s fascinating to see the early days of that, where it’s not at all obvious but the creators know it’s there. (Of course there’s no way to know for sure that they always intended it, but it seems legit. You can read more on that and their whole thought process in this fascinating interview from 2004.) Even in the early comics there’s a strong effort to maintain the women’s agency throughout the story, even though the setting would easily lend itself to sexism. With the tone of the story, and the way it was recommended to me, it really reminds me of the original Star Trek… overt storylines about racial tension (and the comic probably does a more thorough job dealing with them), and the same veiled desire for gender and romantic equality. Others may disagree, but I really believe in the power of these subtle apologetics. Star Trek primed me to be an accepting person long before I met anyone whose identity clashed with mine, even before I knew my own identity, and that’s a very good thing.

Of course, none of that would matter if Elfquest was terrible. The good news is, it’s great fantasy! The best part? You can read all the Elfquest for free on elfquest.com up to the 2014 publications. The site even looks great on mobile, although there’s no Guided View among the panels so you may have trouble on very small screens. Have a look, and I hope you enjoy!

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29 thoughts on “A to Z: Elfquest

      1. Yeah with the actual book – even the digital version of it sitting with a little “new” notification – I get to reading it sooner or later! However, I have Marvel Unlimited – and I have added way more comics I would *like* to read than I have actually read! There’s kind of a “I can read that later” mentality with it…

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          1. Yeah. And then I turned to it recently and remembered that the reason I was looking for something else to do was because we were downloading a lot of stuff and the Internet was running slow… so still didn’t read any Marvel Unlimited 😉

            It’s still saved a good chunk of money for our LitFlix, but I could definitely be reading more. Sorry, sidetracked. Elfquest.

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          2. Hehe. Yeah. Not enough time in the day. The Elfquest site has them broken down into issues, so at least you have discrete chunks and not an undifferentiated 35-year stream, otherwise I’d get bogged down immediately. As it is, it’s fun to have a little 10-minute issue to read now and then.

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  1. Thank you so much for that link! I was a fan of Elfquest for years, but I stopped reading sometime after I graduated from university when I could no longer but the latest issues at the local shop, so I lost track and never started reading it again. Now I can get caught up! (I strongly suspect certain elements in Elfquest influenced my own fiction more strongly than I tend to notice.)

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  2. Oh, I love Elfquest! I don’t think I’ve read any of the comics since I was a teenager…I’m so glad you reminded me of it…now I can make sure Grace reads it, too. 😀 I had no idea the comic was still going! Squeee!

    (Though I must warn you…the Elfquest RPG is just awful…spare yourself that horror.) 😉

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    1. That’s so cool! Do you remember anything about what gave you that impression, or was it just a general thing? I’m only partway through the first arc, but it’s all about the Cutter/Leetah/Rayek triangle right now (and Cutter and Rayek are obviously not interested in sharing, lol).

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      1. There are a lot of group shots that show the Wolfriders all naked and bathing together, for one. In other pictures Skywise is sometimes shown in bed with Leetah and Cutter. I suppose nothing is SUPER obvious, but it’s pretty clear the Wolfriders are supposed to have a very open culture.

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          1. (At least we know now that even if we aren’t talking about the same thing, we’ll have recommendations for each other! 😀 )

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    1. Gotta love free stuff! I believe the creators always intended it to be free-or-cheap anyway, but I’ll need to look into that. I just started reading about them this weekend for the post, and they’re a very interesting couple. 🙂

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