This is my last but one entry in my 26-Week Book Challenge, and my last proper entry, since next week is an interlude. Or a coda, if you will. Whatever. This week is also the only entry I have added to the challenge by myself, because I realised it was missing. And yes, the title of the post gives it away: this entry is for my favourite comic book.
This could be a controversial entry, because I know there are plenty of people who don’t consider comics to be books. All I can say to such people is: you clearly haven’t been reading the right comics. Quality work such as Watchmen or the entire Sandman series by Neil Gaiman are critically acclaimed and possess a depth of story which Stephenie Meyer can only dream of.
When it comes to my favourite series though, I go for pretty, which is why I picked Elfquest. I was first introduced to this series by a friend in secondary school, and quite aside from the fact that I quickly fell in love with Strongbow (the ultimate strong, dark, silent type! *swoon*), the story itself was continuously compelling. The original eight graphic novels from Fire and Flight through to Kings of the Broken Wheel tackle everything from prejudice, jealousy, love, war, exploitation, betrayal and torture. It introduced the concept of Recognition, and caused controversy when an entire tribe of elves indulged in what could more or less be termed an orgy before going off to war. As Wendy ruefully said at the time: ‘the book has twenty pages of elves and trolls slaughtering each other, but people took offense at the two pages where they indulged in love and pleasure’. Whatever your feelings about the story, throughout the series, Wendy Pini’s amazing artwork continues to astonish.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that this series has also had a heavy influence on my writing, in the sense that in my head, my half-elves have always resembled Elfquest elves. They have smaller ears and eyes – the fact that they’re half-elves makes them a little more like humans in that regard – but the anime feel to the Elfquest artwork remains, certainly in the hair.
For years and years I had an Elfquest fan site, and I was a member of an Elfquest-type fan community where we all had our own characters and wrote stories about them or drew pictures (in my case both, though my pictures were never particularly amazing). After the original eight graphic novels Wendy drafted in other artists and the series diverged, which in my opinion was immensely detrimental to the quality of it. Still, I will always have a special place in my heart for Elfquest, and for every Steve Blevins who made all elves look the same there was a Lorraine Reyes who managed to capture the heart of Pini’s artwork and make it her own.
And I cannot possibly devote a post to comics and not mention Calvin and Hobbes. This is another series that I got to know in my late teens, and the compilations I bought at the time still contain my carefully scribbled translations of the English words I did not know at the time. There is something intensely magical about a six-year-old boy whose stuffed tiger is, to him, the best friend and playmate he could possibly have, and the imagination on display throughout the entire series is nothing short of genius. Even now, almost two decades after Watterson drew his last strip, Calvin and Hobbes can still draw headlines.
It’s a magical world, after all.