• ElfQuest and the secret history

    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.


  • RAW Week Bonus: RAWing in the Rain, by Maja D'aoust


    It was raining hard and I came into work soaking wet.

    My Dr. Martens had that darker sheen around the toes where the water had sunk into the petrol-resistant exterior. The smell of damp and of dusty books filled my nose as I prepared for another day of work at the library. It was 1995 in Seattle. The WTO had just formed, The Oklahoma bombing went down, and Grunge was slowly decaying in an acrid smoke after Kurt Cobain's suicide. It was then, on that day, Robert Anton Wilson entered my life.

    I had just got in the building, which looked like a huge Viking ship, designed that way on account of all the Norwegians who took up residence in that particular part of town. I shook the rain off of my formidable, flaming red hair when, suddenly, I was vehemently tugged behind the stacks by my coworker.

    He was thirty-ish, pagan, had a long blonde ponytail and a nose ring. We would often chat together about Egypt, witchy-poo stuff, and things like that.

    "You should really check this book out, I think you would really like it," he said quietly as he handed me a corpulent tome. I looked down at it and saw a checkerboard cover with dolphins jumping over a pyramid with an eye on it. Oh boy, I thought to myself. Like I'm really going to read this obviously new age tedious thing that probably is filled with cheerful advice of how to align my chakras. I humored him politely, as all I wanted to do was take off my wet jacket (which was covered in Metallica patches), took the book and said "thanks, I totally will!" as I snuck past to put my coat in my cubby. Now, it's not that I was opposed to "new age" per se, but I was heavily into OCCULT material and was very snobby about it at the time. If it wasn't older than the 1800's I didn't give a snit about it.

    I had just purchased the Hermetic works of Paracelsus, and all the froofy rainbow dolphin material made me cringe as I blasted my Soundgarden tapes on my Sony walkman while walking in the rain. So, I waited until my co-worker went in the back and stealthily snuck the girthy volume onto my cart of books to re-shelve whilst turning up the volume on my headphones. Upon approaching the shelf to replace the seemingly uncouth bundle back exactly in its proper Dewey decimal order, a book directly next to it caught my eye. The cover of this book looked not unlike the covers of some of my Heavy Metal comics, which I was very dedicated to at that point in my life. Prometheus Rising was written in airbrushed chrome lettering with a hermeticy looking fellow emerging from a robot. Now I was interested. I was also a huuuuuuge Frankenstein (the novel) fan, so anything with the word Prometheus in it instantly ignited me in affinity.