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10 Reasons to Pay Attention to ElfQuest Background Art

One of the greatest things about ElfQuest is that Wendy and Richard Pini take the time to weave an amazing level of detail and plot into each issue–even in the background art. Over the years so much that isn’t necessarily a part of the main story arc, and could easily be skipped, can be seen by paying close attention to what’s happening in the background. Often these moments are used tell us more about the characters’ relationships and personalities. This is one reason reading ElfQuest is such a rich experience.

Wendy says, “It’s a necessary story-telling device for ElfQuest, in particular, because we have so many characters which the readers know and love and want to see more of. Not every single one of them can have dialogue and a significant plot line, so information about them has to come in visual cues.”

Here are ten of the best bits of wonderfulness from the backgrounds in ElfQuest.

Pike Gives Shenshen Flowers
When Leetah left the Sun Village with the Wolfriders in Original Quest #9, her little sister Shenshen was beside herself with concern that she might never see her sibling again. It was a revealing moment for Shenshen as a character; it was the first time we saw more depth to the otherwise giggling and gossiping villager. The sweet moment came in the background when Pike noticed her sadness, and on the next page offered her a bouquet of flowers to cheer her up.

Pike Shenshen Flowers

 

Venka Meets Teir
Venka greets her half-brother Teir in Final Quest #10. It may or may not be their first meeting, and it’s not critical to the moving forward of the plot, but Wendy and Richard included it in the background, connecting the storylines of Venka and Teir as further fruition of the major revelation that Teir is Kahvi’s son.

Venka meets Teir

 

Skywise’s Child Spotted in Go-Back Lodge
In Hidden Years #2 we learned that Skywise fathered at least one child, Yun, during his shenanigans with Go-Back maidens before the war against King Guttlekraw for the Palace of the High Ones. But long before Yun was formally introduced we can see a child that is clearly Skywise’s in the Go-Back’s lodge in Kings of the Broken Wheel #1. Is it Yun, or perhaps another of the silver-haired stargazer’s kids?

Skywise Go-Back Kid

 

Rainsong Greets Pike
The fact that Pike and Rainsong are half-siblings isn’t a detail ever stated directly in the comics. Instead, readers had to put two and two together. Rainsong reveals she’s Rain’s daughter in Original Quest #9, but even before that both their matching names and hat styles were a clue to their relatedness. Pike was revealed to be Rain’s son in the first Blood of Ten Chiefs novel, but again, the clear family resemblance in character design was hard to miss. These are both great examples of the type of visual storytelling clue that Wendy regularly weaves into the art.

Astute fans were able to make these connections, and Richard confirmed that these two Wolfriders were brother and sister in the letter pages of the issue #24 of the Marvel reprints of the Original Quest.

Later, in Kings of the Broken Wheel #4 you can see Rainsong greeting Pike after a three year separation in this tiny background panel.

Pike Greets Rainsong

 

Serrin Born After Kahvi’s Attack
In Hidden Years #2 we learned that Wing Recognized the Sun Villager Behtia. We also learned that Behtia was very close to giving birth. The events of the issue were focused on Kahvi’s attack on the village in an effort to get the Little Palace for the Go-Backs, but on the last page we saw Wing running up to his healer brother Mender. Only the impending birth of his daughter Serrin could inspire the look of joy and excitement on Wing’s face right after a battle.

Wing and Mender

 

Treestump Gives Dewshine Trollhammer’s Pelt
Treestump discovered that Guttlekraw’s troll warriors killed his daughter Dewshine’s wolf-friend Trollhammer in Original Quest #19.  Later in the issue, if you pay close attention to the background, you see he’s brought the loyal wolf’s pelt as a keepsake when he broke the news to his golden-haired daughter.

Dewshine Trollhammer's Pelt

 

Nightfall Braids Redlance’s Hair
One of the most beautiful things about ElfQuest is the love shown between partners, whether they be lovemates or lifemates. Quiet moments of tenderness, however mundane, make ElfQuest great. Careful readers spotted one such moment between Nightfall and Redlance in Final Quest #3.

Nightfall Braids Redlance

 

Moonshade’s Friendship With Rainsong
Though it’s never been explicitly said, if you pay close attention to the story being told in the background panels, you discover that Moonshade had a close friendship with Rainsong. It makes sense, given that both are gentle types as far as Wolfriders go. The first clue to their friendship was in Kings of the Broken Wheel #4, when we saw Rainsong specifically greeting her old friend when the Wolfriders first returned to the Sun Village. Later, in the Wolfrider story, we saw more evidence of this friendship.

Moonshade and Rainsong Friends

 

Treestump and Clearbrook Sit Out Dance With the Go-Backs
When the Wolfriders and Go-Back’s shared a “dance” celebrating life before their first battle against the trolls in Original Quest #17, Clearbrook, freshly grieving for her slain lifemate One-Eye, didn’t participate in the lovemaking. Fellow elder Treestump stood by her side then, comforting her in a bit of foreshadowing for their eventual relationship.

Treestump Clearbrook Orgy

 

Minyah Lives!
The Sun Folk’s master gardener Minyah only ever had one scene in which she had a speaking part, in Original Quest #5. Yet she appears in the background throughout the 37-year long ElfQuest saga, from the Original Quest all the way up to the Final Quest. Her signature woven hat gives her away every time. It’s nice to know that such a minor background character hasn’t been forgotten.

Minyah Montage

 

What other hidden gems have you found in the backgrounds of ElfQuest? Let us know in the comments below.


16 Comments

  1. I’ve noticed and loved far too many to list them all here, but the one about Nightfall braiding Redlance’s hair reminded me of the reunification in Blue Mountain where One-Eye brushed out and braided Clearbrook’s hair as she soaked in the bath. Both of them seemed happy to have her hair out of that crazy updo the Gliders put it in!

  2. Freetouch’s look at Snakeskin in FQ recent issue #10. you can almost hear her thoughts: “So many new boy elves, so little time.” lol

  3. One of my all-time favorites isn’t exactly in the background, but it’s not part of the main action: I believe it’s in KINGS OF THE BROKEN WHEEL while Cutter and Skywise discuss Leetah’s assistance as Redlance and Nightfall try to conceive a cub. Cutter is scratching Warfrost behind the ears. He briefly stops; Warfrost brushes his hand with his paw; Cutter resumes.

  4. There are so much Backgroundscenes I hraven’t seen at first Sight but without them the whole Storyb would lack Depth. You can see the Patience of Wendy and Richard in every Panel, it must be really a lot of Work to sketch and refine it bit by bit.

  5. I couldn’t agree more. Also, I’d like to make a shout out to the physical backgrounds themselves. When I first saw the Father Tree and the troll caverns my mind was blown. I’ve noticed the backgrounds have been getting more and more detailed in Final Quest. How Wendy Pini manages to do that amount of detail in less than two months is beyond me. I LOVED seeing the caverns again in issue 9. Made my day.

  6. Also loved Picknose’s shack in Forbidden Grove. And Shards, while not done by Wendy Pini, had AMAZING background designs.

  7. Yes and as a FanArt-Artist I can say that for myself too, I am also obsessed with Details, I can’t stop until I am satiesfied and I am sure Wendy and Richiard had similiar Feelings.

  8. There’s one awesome one that I didn’t include, that I’m surprised no one has pointed out yet. I’ll give you a hint, it’s from around the time of the beginning of Cutter’s first quest.

  9. Do you mean the Scene were Leetah is whispering something into Skywise’s Ear?
    I have noticed it and the Result was that Cutter has to acceppt the Company of Skywise during his Journey wich was betterthan traveling alone through a foreign Land.

  10. Smallflower – you guessed it! ​​

  11. Yay, I knew it!
    In that Scene you really see that Leetah is ploting something, maybe she doesen’ t want that Cutter travels allone.

  12. And there is something I want to mention here:

    It is a Backgroundscene nearly from the Start of their Journey through the Dessert: You can make out how Nightfall takes care of wounded Redlance, wich also shows the deep Love between them.

  13. With the Rainsong/Moonshade friendship, I remember in the first Blood of Ten Chiefs anthology, Richard penned a story that showed that Woodlock and Strongbow (and Bearclaw) had a friendship as well.

  14. This is a moment described in the prose version of the first quest. In Leetah’s hut, after she was knocked out by a zwoot, on the sidelines Pike is sitting on a chair looking skeptically at the backrest as that was a thing wolfriders didn’t have, only stools at most. Although the insides of dens appear to have molded seats up against the trunk wall, they just don’t have stand alone chairs.

  15. That’s a great little detail Rholt!

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