ELFQUESTOriginal Medium: Comic books
Published by: WaRP Graphics
First Appeared: 1978
Creator: Wendy Pini
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Elfquest started as a set of images and characters that grew in artist Wendy Fletcher's head, over a period of years. In 1977, she and her husband, Richard Pini, sat down to work them into a storyline that
would finally bring them out into the light of day. In 1978, the first issue of the comic book Elfquest appeared, written by Richard and Wendy and drawn by Wendy, joining Cerebus the Aardvark as a pioneer of the self-publishing movement. Since then, it has grown into an international phenomenon.
The original 20-issue series, published in black and white by the Pinis' WaRP Press (which they also used to become the first to put Colleen Doran's A Distant Soil into print) between 1978 and '84, told the story of Cutter, dashing young chief of the Wolfriders, an isolated band of elves, who embarked on a quest to find his elfin roots and bring together the scattered tribes of his people. He succeeded, in ways that could never have been predicted, bringing about irrevocable changes in his own life, the Wolfriders, and elfkind in general. Along the way, he found plenty of adventure, romance, friendship, betrayal, tragedy, hope, and everything else that makes for stirring fiction, enjoyed by young and old alike.
No sooner had the series ended, than it went into reruns. Marvel Comics re-published it, reformatted into a 32-issue color series with new pages added, which ran from 1985-89. By that time, the original 20 issues had been collected in four full-color graphic novels by The Donning Company. Later, the additional pages from the Marvel run were collated in, the whole thing was re-colored, and enhanced versions of the four graphic novels were reissued by the Pinis' own Father Tree Press. These books have remained in print, making the Elfquest saga available to millions of readers all over the world. There has been talk of an animated version, but to date, nothing concrete.
And the story didn't end there. In 1986, Tor Books issued Blood of Ten Chiefs, the first of several volumes of prose fiction in which various writers, authorized by the Pinis, wrote stories about Cutter's ancestors. In 1987-88, WaRP Graphics issued Siege at Blue Mountain, an eight-issue series continuing the adventures of Cutter and his band. In 1990-92, they did another continuation, Kings of the Broken Wheel, which ran nine issues.
In 1993, they let out the stops, hiring several writers and artists to handle various ongoing series of adventures in different parts of the world of Elfquest. New Blood and Shards continued the adventures of the Wolfriders, now split into two separate bands. Kahvi, Two-Spear and others recounted the stories of individual cast members who had proved popular. Wave Dancers took place in a hitherto-unknown part of that world, among a tribe of elves that had not been seen before. Later, these series, and several others, were consolidated into a single extra-large monthly comic titled, simply, Elfquest.
In the early years of the 21st century, Elfquest stories from all series were re-edited and re-formatted into volumes resembling American manga reprints, for publication by DC Comics. The first volume was published in 2003.
From a single black and white comic book to a minor publishing empire — it just goes to show what you can accomplish, when you've got a concept that appeals to millions worldwide and the skill to turn it into an engaging story.