Behold, 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!