Richard and I were hanging out at the fabulous comic shop Golden Apple on Melrose a few weeks back (do visit if you get the chance – they have just about everything anyone could want in stock, plus a lovely Elfquest display). Anyhoo, we chatted with various staff and customers and I got into a conversation with a young woman who was a pretty intense, longtime EQ fan.
Now, mind you, we were standing directly in front of the fully-stocked Elfquest shelves in the store, which means “Searcher and the Sword” was right there on display. And this dear, sweet fan says to me, “I’ve been following Elfquest for years but I really miss YOUR work.”
“My work?” I chirped brightly, figuring she must be a purist who never got comfortable with any of the other artists Warp used over the years. “Since we’ve been with DC, it’s been NOTHING BUT my work,” I reassured her. “I format all the manga reprints, do new covers and add new art as needed – and did you see ‘Searcher and the Sword’ which came out in hard cover last year and will be re-released in soft cover in April?”
Yes, she said, she had seen Searcher and really loved it. “Well, then,” I smiled, thinking I’d made my point.
“But I miss your work,” she said.
“Ummm…” I said, “but I just explained…I mean ‘Searcher’ is all me…no one else touched it…so how can you miss…I mean…it’s right there…it’s…”
Yes she knew, she said, but she still missed me.
Further explanations were not forthcoming. Clearly we were not connecting and it didn’t seem likely we were going to connect so I quietly wandered off to another part of the store.
When someone obviously intelligent persists in making no sense, the detective in me tends to assume the truth lies in what’s NOT being said. What, I wondered, had that nice, young woman actually been trying to tell me?
Had she been trying, ever so politely, to scold me for having allowed other artists to draw the elves? Was she missing the way Elfquest looked in its earliest years? Did she want me to know that, no matter what new work I did, now or in the future, she would never forgive what she perceived as a desertion and would always “miss” me?
If any of that’s a correct interpretation of her code, I think it’s kind of sad…a no-win scenario we’ve encountered before. By clinging to the past what she’ll really be missing, IMHO, is a lot of fun, because there’s lots more new story to tell before the Final Quest is done. And Elfmom and Elfpop are the sole tellers – that’s the way DC wants it and the way WE want it.
“I like your old stuff best,” believe me, is no compliment. It always makes the brain gears go grundge. There’s no way to respond other than nod, smile and move on. I don’t dwell on the past or try to recreate it. My drawing style, thank goodness, is not the same as it was in the early eighties. I’ve evolved right along with the elves and love doing what I’m doing now.
If/when we chance to meet, let’s not speak in code or dwell on the good old days. Let’s talk about NOW, because NOW is all there is. And that’s plenty.