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Drawn and quarter-centuried

(Or: Getting one’s (bleep) together is easy; lifting it is what’s difficult)

February 28 (it’s still the 28th as I write this, though not for much longer, and High Ones alone know when I’ll have it in shape for posting to the website, there’s just so flipping much going on right now) is Elfquest’s birthday. (That’s only slightly arbitrary a choice; the first and sole issue of Fantasy Quarterly was shipped to distributors and retailers somewhere toward the end of February, 1978 and since one must choose a particular date upon which to hang a celebration, why not the month’s ultimate?)

Samuel Johnson said, in 1777, “Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

Birthdays have the same focusing effect, as do anniversaries and other milestones along life’s journey. They’re a reflective time, an opportunity to take stock, to – as the saying goes – figure out what’s worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.

I must and freely admit, this is a more-than-normally reflective time for me. It’s (roughly) one year to EQ’s Big Two-Five, the Silver Anniversary, the quarter century. It’s not at all too early to be thinking and planning and plotting how to fill 2003, and with what.

Having written that, I realize I’m stumped. Or perhaps “happily overwhelmed” would be a better description.

When Elfquest turned ten, in 1988, we – Warp Graphics the company and Wendy and I as individuals – had just wrapped up a three-year legal battle against the original publisher (long gone now) of the four color collections of the original quest saga. Memory recounts that we celebrated by triumphantly releasing our own Father Tree editions – not only of the first four volumes, but also of the next four, to include the “Siege at Blue Mountain” and “Kings of the Broken Wheel” storylines. On the occasion of Elfquest’s fifteenth, we hatched the idea to mount a year-long signing tour. In the course of 52 weeks, we visited some three dozen different locations, endured near-endless flights and drives to and from airports and comics shops, managed not to go broke, and ended 1993 exhausted but satisfied. For “Twenty Years of Pointed Ears” we threw a big ol’ “everyone’s invited” party at the Comic-Con International in San Diego (as well as a few smaller ones, at other venues).

Year Twenty-Five has to top all of that – without duplication, methinks. We’re already aware that everyone wants us to come visit their city, do signings, hang out. And we would love to, but we’d also like to survive the year! We’re already aware that everyone wants color books again, and I’ll have more to say on that in a bit. We’re already aware that parties are wonderful but they’re rather restricted to those who are geographically or economically able to attend, and we don’t want to leave anyone out.

What to do… what to do… Going to think out loud some here, see if I can’t jog some possibilities loose. Feel free to jump in at any point with suggestions.

Thought #1
One of the things I liked most about Elfquest’s 20th anniversary was the logo:

EQ20 logo

We used it all over the place; it was one of those bits of inspired design – like the WarpWolf logo itself – that jumped out of some combination of graphic instinct and Photoshop and Pagemaker and into reality. The slogan“Twenty Years of Pointed Ears” sprang fully formed from the misty realms of rhyme and meter. Suddenly I have at least one answer to my question of what to do in preparation for Elfquest’s 25th.

How about a “Design an Elfquest 25th Anniversary Logo” contest, open to all? I’ve been noodling some ideas about in that vast and often empty cavern I use as a skull, but I am thinking it would also be a cool thing to involve everyone (who wishes to be involved, that is) in the process. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to do your very own noodling and come up with either a spiffy design for a logo, a snappy slogan, or (High Ones be praised) both! The general concepts are simple: The logo has to involve both the number “25” and the WarpWolf logo. (I admit it: Having a zero – otherwise known as a circle – to work with in the “EQ20” logo, was a stroke of very good fortune; the WarpWolf fit perfectly. The idea of “twenty-fiveness” strikes me as more of a challenge.) The slogan wants to be short and catchy. The winning logo(s) and slogan(s) will be used by us leading up to and throughout all of 2003, however we can happily exploit it in advertising, marketing, on t-shirts, and so on. The winner or winners will be fully credited, and there will be prizes. I’m thinking the deadline for receiving entries will be August 31, 2002 in order to give us a good lead time to use the logo in advertising and such leading up to next year.

(You’ll find a complete set of the official rules right here.)

Thought #2
Now about those color volumes.

Elfquest started life as a black and white comic book. It reincarnated as a color graphic novel, and then color comic books, and then black and white comics again, and most recently as a collection of black and white graphic novels. For those of us who believe in the cyclical nature of things, there’s a certain completeness to the process. How Elfquest has been presented, in publishing terms, has always striven to take advantage of market conditions of the time. The Reader’s Collection has done well, and it is still – and will likely forever remain – the only way to collect the entire Elfquest oeuvre.

But folks do recall the color volumes, and want more entries in the series – or they want to be able to acquire new copies of the ones they used to own. Happily, this coincides at least in part with a wish that Wendy has had for a couple of years, now that she has the technology and the skill to do it to her own and final satisfaction, to present the original quest to the world the way she always wanted it to be seen. Right now, she’s busily completely recoloring Book One of the first four, and one way or another that volume will be released in 2003.

Wendy has already written her impressions about this project, and they appear in a new installment of WendyWords, titled On Collaborating with My Younger Self. Go there now and read the exciting things she has to say, and then come on back here. I’ll wait…

 


Neat, eh? It’s not often in life that an artist gets another chance to “make it so” just as she would choose, and we’re very excited about this project. Certainly, it will take at least as long to produce all four “perfect” volumes (using “perfect” as a tip of the hat to those like-named collections of anime that contain everything just as the creator wants it) of the original quest as it did the first time around in the early 1980s; we anticipate being able to release one volume per year. Beyond that, well, that’s for the future to say. But for now, with work already underway on the newest edition of “Fire and Flight”, 2003 is looking decidedly… colorful!

(For more on Warp’s ongoing efforts to spread “the Way” of Elfquest, check out this news release.)

Thought #3
Time to par-taaayyyyyy!

As I said earlier, “official” parties can be fun, but why be restrictive? I’m thinking of a year-long party – let’s call it the “Worldwide EQ 25th Anniversary Howl” – in which everyone can participate. How? Viaelfquest.com, of course. If you decide to throw an EQ-at-25 party, no matter where you live, no matter when during 2003 you decide to do it, take photos, send them to us here at Warp, and we’ll post as many as we can right here to share with the world!

Here’s a variation, something in addition to the all-year stuff. Pick one day and a certain time (February 28, 2003 would be the natural choice for the date; perhaps noon or midnight in each time zone as the planet spins) and – like all those Guinness Book of Records attempts – let’s see how many “AYOOOOAH”s we can send skyward in the course of 24 hours. Participants could email reports (and photos) and I could post a running total.

Another variation: At least a couple of times during 2003, put together as large a party chat as our web server and bandwidth will allow, and hold an all-day/all-night conversation with anyone and everyone who shows up.

Thought #4
Memory “Book”

I’m “borrowing” this idea from the fine folks at Fantask in Copenhagen, Denmark. For the 30th anniversary of their store, they put together a CD-ROM containing hundreds of images culled from photo albums going all the way back to their first days in business. Given that I’ve got several large file boxes of photos already, this might be something exciting to work on.

It also occurs to me that I should send out a request to all who read these words for copies or scans of photos that you’d like to suggest for inclusion in such an album. Photos from signings or conventions or costume events or holt gatherings or other events from 1978 right on up through last week are welcome!

Thought #5
Stuff!

There simply must be some way to cobble together some sort of silver anniversary remembrance that everyone who wants one can have, not only the lucky (relatively) few who show up at signings or conventions. I’ll have to let this one simmer, and I’ll pass along more as I know it…

Of course, the details of all of this have to be worked out but it’s not too early to start. Got an idea, suggestion or helpful hint? Let me know!

Shade and Sweet Preparations!

Richard Pini

 


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