Poke the Publisher: Elfquest

I never really got into graphic novels as a kid. Part of it was the cost - I didn't have a steady enough source of parental income to guarantee that I'd be able to collect all the issues, but part of it was probably that I was a girl in what appeared at the time to be a man's world. Even now when I visit the comic book store in search of new board games, I'm heartily amused by some of the costumes and proportions of the ladies on the comic covers - I can't imagine how my young and conservatively-shaped brain would have coped with the culture shock.

I do, however, have a very strong memory of a shopping trip to Barnes & Noble where I became engrossed in "Elfquest". The costumes and proportions were still rather ridiculous, but it was okay because these were elves and I wasn't expected to grow up to look like an elf, for chrissake.

Perhaps it was my sheltered upbringing, but I'd never quite seen anything like the Elfquest stories. The women were allowed to do things - things as good as or better than the men. They were hunters and wolf riders and healers and clan leaders, and they were never singled out as women - they just fulfilled their roles like everyone else did, and their gender didn't even matter. There was emotional variety among the men, and each character was unique - the men weren't all brooding tough guys or manly stereotypes of rugged competence; they were just regular people. And there were different colored elves - white ones and brown ones and ones with red hair and ones with black hair, and they were all normal people, too. It was quite a shock at the time when every single one of the fantasy protagonists in my books were either white or some kind of racial stereotype (i.e., all [insert color] are [insert fantasy job description]).

I don't remember how old I was on this fateful trip to Barnes & Noble, but I do remember that I was old enough to immediately realize that requesting "Elfquest" from my parents wasn't going to work. The magic and the scantily clad protagonists and the mixed-sex pairings (okay, okay, the author has only discussed those outside the text, but it was pretty clear to me what was going on) meant that this exciting fantasy romp wouldn't be welcome in our tightly-regulated household - so I left the book behind, but never really forgot about the vivid world I'd glimpsed.

When I moved out as an adult, I quickly set about acquiring all the books I'd wanted as a child, including the Enchanted Forest Chronicles (the subject of an upcoming Poke the Publisher installment - stay tuned!) and the Elfquest archives. There are four archives in total - all rendered in loving color - but finding them in print is an absolute nightmare, and getting them in e-Book form is currently impossible as far as I can tell.

Graphic novels have been slow to move over to electronic format because a lot of e-Readers still don't offer color displays. But the Nook Color has been out for awhile now and the iPad and other tablet computers are riding high at the moment, and there's nothing to indicate that these trends won't continue. It's high time that comic producers start moving over their stock into electronic format so that collectors can start rebuying their favorite stories!

Amazon links for the Elfquest Archives are here:
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4

I would suspect that a single poke for Volume 1 would be sufficient enough to express reader interest.

The corresponding B&N links are here:
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4

Bonus points will be awarded for contacting the Elfquest site keepers directly and politely explaining that the money in your pocket is money that you could be giving them for lovely electronic copies of their delightful artwork. Or, if they prefer a barter system like the elves, you could always send them a few nice fur rugs and maybe a potted plant or two.

Remember: Readers who post in the comments that they've poked the publisher via any or all of these links will be mentioned in a subsequent "Poke the Publisher" entry, which is at least as valuable as becoming a sparkly vampire doomed to wander the halls of high school for eternity.

Also remember: By poking the publisher, you are not indicating that YOU are waiting to buy this book in e-Book format, but rather that your dear friend Ana is waiting to buy this book in e-Book format to review, dissect, deconstruct, and otherwise desecrate for your reading pleasure. And buy it I shall, just as soon as it comes available in the U.S. of A., presuming, of course, that the nuclear holocaust hasn't wiped us all out by then.

Credit for last week's Poke the Publisher feature must go to Matt Smyczynski, Brin Bellway, Charleen Merced, Cupcakedoll, Gela Delgado, and Pauline Toohey. Each and every one of these wonderful readers are now perfectly prepared for the nuclear apocalypse thanks to their enthusiasm for the educational Deathlands series, and will be comfortably eating cans of baked beans for years after the rest of us short-sighted and lazy grasshoppers have been devoured by wild wolves. Well done, guys!


BrinBellway said...

*pokes B&N*

*has given up trying to poke Amazon*

Each and every one of these wonderful readers are now perfectly prepared
for the nuclear apocalypse thanks to their enthusiasm for the
educational Deathlands series, and will be comfortably eating cans of
baked beans for years after the rest of us short-sighted and lazy
grasshoppers have been devoured by wild wolves.

Well, we did recently update the emergency backpacks in the family car, putting in fresh granola bars and water bottles and adding lightweight summer clothes. That's kind of the same thing.

Matt Smyczynski said...

8x Poke!

hapax said...

ELFQUEST!  Now there's something that *badly* needs deconstructing!

(I'm a huge Pini fan, but there are elements of that story that really really bother me upon revisiting)

Marie Brennan said...

I heart Elfquest so much!  Never was much of a comics reader, but I *adore* that series.  (Through the first eight volumes, anyway.  After "Kings of the Broken Wheel" it got split up among more writers and artists, and I don't like the subsequent work as much.)

I suspect the fact that the Pinis have made the entire series available to read online for free gets in the way of anybody *selling* an ebook copy.  But it would be awesome if they gathered the current interface into something more easily downloaded to an e-reader.

Ana Mardoll said...

@BrinBellway:disqus Fresh granola bars are very important. *thumbsup* You don't want to spend the nuclear winter eating stale ones. I've done that and it's not pretty.

@StanManX:disqus Matt, you consistently prove that one does not need a high vowel-to-consonant ratio in their name to be awesome. :D

@fa009241bbd15ee840d21056d1306fb2:disqus I never even considered an Elfquest deconstruction - how interesting! I'm not sure what I'd say about the series, though - as I've only read the Pini archives and not some of the later, different-author, variable quality stuff. And I thought the Pini stuff was fairly liberated once you got past the Playboy Bunny figures. ;)

@openid-82222:disqus *JAW DROP* I did not even NOTICE the comics were free online.


Thank you! Now if only they would bundle and sell those suckers. I'd pay for the convenience.......... :D

Marie Brennan said...

On the topic of Playboy-style figures -- I was geek enough that I bought the Elfquest RPG back in the day, and one of the things included at the back was character sheets with blank sketches of three different male and female body types.  The males were modeled on Strongbow, Cutter, and Treestump; the females were Dewshine, Leetah, and Kahvi.  I won't say the elves had a *full* range of body shapes, but Dewshine was distinctly less curvy and well-endowed, and Kahvi more heavy-set and muscular.  So they were all idealized, but they weren't all idealized hourglass ladies, at least.

Ana Mardoll said...

Marie Brennan You don't say! That's particularly interesting because in the archives Dewshine always seems to me to be one of the curviest, whereas the more "mature" wolfrider gals (I honestly cannot remember their names, but one of them had straight silver hair and - I think - made weapons) seemed less so to me. Hm - historical upgrade of a fan favorite?

Cupcakedoll said...

Ha!  I had the RPG too.  Those mannequin figures were extremely traceable and started me on the idea of drawing one's Mary Sues which eventually led to a deviantart account full of not-very-good Sailormoon fanart.

*Cupcake pauses, wondering where the heck the RPG got to, and how much it's worth on ebay today*

I'm afraid to reread ElfQuest.  It was SO GOOD in high school, and I'm scared it won't be as good now that I'm no longer a teenager.

Cupcakedoll said...

Re: Educational Deathlands =)

A few years ago I became convinced the world would end soon.  In preparing my pack I took much inspiration from Tomorrow When The War Began and sequals.  Luckily, the world didn't end.  I reccomend that series to anyone who's sad there are no more Hunger Games books. 

Nenya said...

My ex adored Elfquest and got me started reading the online archive. I'm not quite sure why it didn't take--it may have been the Playboy Figures. But it was pretty enjoyable even though it wasn't quite my thing. I second Hapax and would love a deconstruction/discussion of Elfquest here!

Charleen Merced said...

Pokey Poke

Oi! That's a lot of beans... All I need is a katana and Clif Bars cause the world will end with the zombie apocalypse!

Gela said...

I have wanted to read Elfquest for a very long time - ever since I read the homages both by Piers Anthony, who borrowed an elf from their world and transported her into Xanth, and by Robert Asprin, who had a couple in one of his Myth books named Idnew and Drachir, the Woof Writers.  :-D  Unfortunately, my Kindle does not do color....  But I'm fairly sure I will be upgrading some day, and by then maybe it will be out!

In the meantime, I will definitely have to look at those online archives, and you can consider the poke-y accomplished!  :-P

Marie Brennan said...

Erm, now I'm curious which images you were looking at for Dewshine -- she's always been very delicate of build, and not terribly busty (at least not compared to some of the other women).  In fact, I found the body sketch online, so you can see for yourself.  I don't think her physical shape has ever really been changed significantly, except maybe after she had a son.  (In fact, if you replace the number in that URL, you can find the other body types: 1 is Winnowill, 2 is Leetah, and 4 is Kahvi.  Swap in "M" for "F" to find the guys.  I'd link directly, but that would probably make your moderation algorithm decide this is spam.)

Ana Mardoll said...

Marie Brennan  Well, I can't find a picture in my archives that corresponds to my memory, so I'm entirely willing to believe I misremembered her as being bustier than she actually is. I remembered her as being extremely slender waisted and fairly busty, and while she is both of those things, she's apparently LESS busty than everyone else. :D

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