Editor's Note: Last month I asked my friends to write about books they loved (you can read all the essays here). This month, I invited them to write about their favorite graphic novels, and they selected some excellent titles. I hope you enjoy them! (Read all the Great Graphic Novel essays here.) — Mark Frauenfelder
Now, just so that you don’t come under the impression that I am one of those girls who only reads Dazzler and Cloak and Dagger comics, I actually have a very sophisticated comic collection, in real comic boxes, with sleeves and everything. I have my signed copies of Eightball, Kull the Conqueror, olde-schoole Crumb, X-Men, and yes, even some Todd McFarlane Spidermans. I have been to Comic-Con in all its dorky glory several times, before Snakes on a Plane had a booth there.
Why would such a girl who knows about comics choose to write about Elfquest? Perhaps I have managed to seduce you into maintaining your eyeballs upon the visage of this portion of the internet. Now that it is a mystery suspense thriller.
Elfquest, upon its surface, presents itself as a manga-ish, but not quite Japanese, hermaphroditic yet strangely sexual, primal Conan-the-Barbarian-meets-the-Smurfs kind of thing. If one were to simply glance through the pages, a scoff or a pfft! might escape the lips of the typical Pantera T-shirt clad comic enthusiast who picked it up.
Well, let me tell you what is really going on in Elfquest.
I mean, what is really, really going on.
I mean what is OCCULTY CONSPIRACY goingy ony.
Elfquest is telling the secret history of our existence.
The Elfquest saga opens with a community of elves who are rather primitive, nature worshiping types and have a close affiliation with wolves.
It is revealed early on in the story that in fact they are descended from the wolves. As in related to them. As in kissing cousins. In an inter-special shape-shifting very witchypoo voodoo taboo style type of predicament.
For those of you following along, from the get go the story is, elves and wolves having sex, and making babies. Intrigue.
Basically as the story unfolds, we discover that there was a species of elves before the wolf-elves that were their ancestors. These ancestors are referred to as the “High Ones.”
The High Ones are long and thin with huge eyes, and essentially look a lot like the standard grey aliens, except super pretty and sort of David Bowie-y in their fashion sense. The High Ones had to leave their native planet due to a catastrophe so they all pack up into a space ship and head for better grounds. They end up on a very brutal uncouth planet with scary animals and human beings, where everything is very survival oriented, in stark contrast to their own very sophisticated and technological society they left behind.
Most of the High Ones get wiped out, either by animals, trolls (of course!), or people and they get scattered all over the planet. This is where the Bestiality rears its furry head… One of the High Ones decides it would help them to be part of the world if she physically mates with it. She ends up shape-shifting into a wolf and mating with a wolf and having half–elf half-wolf babies. I mean, its what anyone would do in that situation.
Eek, you say? Ew, you mew? Well this is not the first time something like this has been discussed. In the ancient Vedas from India, the Rishis come down to earth from the stars, the big dipper to be precise, and go willy nilly all over the place, some of them having sex with animals. And some of them shape shifting into animals and then having sex with each other, like for example the Rishi called Vibhandaka. According to the legend, he mated with a female deer that bore him a son, Rishi Shranga.
But the plot thickens, look at ancient Greece. Do you have any idea how many animals Zeus changed into and then had sex with human females and then had children? Way more than was really necessary, that’s how many. One of my favs is Leda and the swan (resulting in the Gemini twins Castor and Pollux). Swan sex, undeniably sexy.
And then there are always the gimpy not-quite-godlike folks made by gods and man (Centaurus) that then have sex with horses and make Centaurs.
The Nephilim, same thing. Children of angels and man that go and breed with animals. It's in the Book of Enoch for those of you in the Jew crew.
If I talk about Ancient Egypt and space men animal gods it will be an epic tome, so I will simply say, “Horus”.
Around the world, through different cultures this story exists. Gods come down from the heavens, intermingle with beasts and we get these, like supermen with special powers.
The DEMI-GODS. This is a very weird story to find everywhere. Space men breeding with animals. Pretty specific.
It really is the story of the superhero. Although many would argue, I say Elfquest is closer to a superhero story than most comic super hero stories. The High Ones, and most of the elves have magical powers in typical demi-god fashion. They can communicate telepathically. Some of them have crazy psychic abilities and can move stuff with their minds. Some of them can levitate and fly. But the crazier thing about the superpowers that the elves have is that they are all the same as the ones found in an ancient book called The Yoga Sutras of Patanjai. In this book the “siddhis” or powers attained through concentration are described. These super powers come from where? Oohhhhh the Rishis that mated with Animals described above. All the same superpowers as the Elves in Elfquest have.
As it goes on, the “Quest” in Elfquest is articulated as the search, started by the wolf elves, to find all the other elf progeny and the last remaining High Ones. This quest becomes the driving force of the story and urges the elves to piece together their history, their ancestry, their identity. They travel around the world trying to find these answers, meeting different species of elves they didn’t even know existed, that were totally related to them. The message of Elfquest becomes not only the creation myth BUT THE ETERNAL RETURN. The inevitable, reflexive nature of the universe to send the thing born back to where it came. So elegant! So erudite! So not what you would think to find in an elf comic!
So my question is, Were Wendy and Richard Pini SUPERGENIUSES???? These books were written before the internet, which means they would have had to do hella research to compile all that mythological currency to make elf comics. OR were they channeling some kind of AMAZING universal truth, which speaks to the origins of our species on the planet Earth???
I mean, magical beings being raised by wolves can be found as easy as Romulus and Remus (who were born from a God and a Woman, p.s.), but to tie these into an intergalactic race, is some serious cogitating. Did they come up with it? Did they have a drinking buddy in the Illuminati?
Or is it just a reality existing in the aetheric plane for any author to have come out of their brains if they sit in front of some paper.
So, while many of you may have looked askance at the covers of Elfquest and assumed it was some kind of weird chick elf romance novel, instead what is hidden within the pages is how aliens with telepathic superpowers came down to a planet from outer space and had sex with animals to breed a new flesh.
I was in the fifth grade when I discovered and devoured the Elfquest saga. And to this day it is burned into my memory as a searing tornado of magicy, elfy, eye candy-y moments that filled my mind with pleasure. The graphic novels are well worth the effort, if simply for no other reason than to marvel at the synchronistic sympathy displayed in the events with all creation stories everywhere. Although the High Ones didn’t seem to have a reptilian agenda, much like the modern day story of this creation tale we have grown so used to (via the god blessed internet conspirators) none the less, they recapitulate my favorite story, that there is no new tale to tell.
(plus there is lots of elf sex romancey scenes).
ElfQuest at Boing Boing
In Wendy and Richard Pini's saga are the haunted echoes of utopian fantasy, removed from the epic to the intimate.
The secret history
The creation myths that bind all of us are at their most powerful when they're part of the plot, writes Maja D'Aoust.
Fables are portals to other worlds, writes Heather Johannsen—and to new places in this one.
A Girl at the 1978 Comic-Con
A snapshot of comics culture in the year that ElfQuest made its mark
Part 1 of the Final Quest Prologue
An all-new tale, published first here at Boing Boing
Read all 6500 pages of ElfQuest online
Fans acquire ElfQuest film rights
Columbia University acquires ElfQuest comic archives