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Five Reasons Tyleet’s “Little Patch” Story is Quintessential ElfQuest

There are many kinds of ElfQuest stories: epic quests, light-hearted one-shots, dark cautionary tales, and even silly Worldpool what-ifs. Among them are stories that perfectly capture the ultimate spirit of what makes ElfQuest touch our souls. The “Little Patch” tale told in Hidden Years #3 is one of them.

Tyleet and Little Patch

The story is told in flashback by Tyleet and recounts her tale of raising an orphaned human child rejected by his superstitious birth tribe because of the red-brown birthmark on his face. In contrast to the humans, the Wolfriders not only took pity on the abandoned infant, they adopted him and named him Little Patch after that very same birthmark. While Little Patch is the protagonist of the tale-within-the-tale, Tyleet is the heart of the story.

Here are five reason’s Tyleet’s Little Patch story is quintessential ElfQuest.

1. It’s the ultimate “Day in the Life” story. ElfQuest is an epic tale, but Wendy and Richard Pini also weave in tiny vignettes of normal, daily life for the Wolfriders that expertly counterbalance the world-and-time-spanning action and drama. It’s these kinds of vignettes that make the characters real and relatable. In this story, not only do we get to experience Tyleet’s parental joy, anxieties and even heartbreak, we get snapshots of the entire tribe helping with Little Patch’s upbringing, each revealing something about those individual Wolfriders. It’s this kind of character development that makes ElfQuest great.

2. It showcases the Wolfriders’ non-judgemental attitudes. Let’s face it, humanity is superstitious and often overreacts in horrible ways based on that superstition. For the humans, Little Patch’s birthmark was strange, and strange was bad. So they left him to die alone in the forest. The simple, earthy Wolfriders, however, didn’t bat an eye at the boy’s unique coloration. As a representation of the vision that Wendy and Richard hope that humanity might one day achieve, the Wolfriders don’t judge by the surface but rather operate from a place of life-affirming love, non-judgemental compassion and natural simplicity. The Wolfriders, exemplified by Tyleet, showcase this perfectly in this tale.

Tyleet Rescues Little Patch

3. The art is GORGEOUS.  The first five issues of Hidden Years stand out as some of the best of Wendy’s ElfQuest comics art. These were the very first issues of ElfQuest done in full color from the start (vs. done in black and white first and colored later). Painted in lush watercolor, it’s hard not to fall in love with every panel. While the level of work that went into each of these issues was never going to be realistic in the long term, and while Wendy is now able to create equally gorgeous full-color ElfQuest art in the Final Quest by painting with light and pixels instead of brushes, these five issues will always be one of the high points of ElfQuest comics art.

4. It crushes your heart–in a good way.  You simply cannot read this story and not feel a deep pain in your heart. The story is filled with sadness, from Little Patch’s abandonment, to his inability to fit in with the elves, to his continued rejection by the human tribe and by his ultimate fate. Yet never does this sadness feel depressing or hopeless. In fact, it’s the opposite. The storytelling is so superb that despite the awful things that Little Patch faces in life, and at the end of life, you walk away from reading it feeling completely uplifted even as you sob at how the tale ends. No character is more responsible for this effect on readers than Tyleet.

Little Patch End

5. It showcases Tyleet! When this story first appeared, Tyleet was a new and unknown character. She was first introduced in Kings of the Broken Wheel #7 and while we got some snapshots of her personality, we didn’t really know her. The Little Patch story established Tyleet as the best blend of her parents: brave and dedicated like her mother Nightfall, big-hearted and nurturing like her father Redlance. Tyleet was the first new Wolfrider born to the tribe and introduced into the story after Suntop and Ember. More-so even than the twins, she represented the post-Quest world in which the Wolfriders found themselves, where humans weren’t always enemies, where the old hatred and animosities didn’t have to exist. She is the first Wolfrider born for whom the existence of the Palace and its potential was a reality and a given, not an ancient legend, and her confidence and fearless worldview reflects that. It is all of this that makes Tyleet one of the most beloved ElfQuest characters. She is a true lightbringer and a perfect embodiment of what makes ElfQuest amazing.

 

 


10 Comments

  1. Yes! I confess I love the story and it is still one of my favorites. Those five HY are really beautiful pieces of art and writing!
    Little Patch was so lucky he wad found by Tyleet. And the way the difference was portrait between human- and elfculture was striking to me and made me realize I wasn’t as openminded as I thought. I do try to look beyond what I see and I hope I succeed in this.

    Thank you for this story!

  2. I completely agree on every one of those. This is my one of my most favorite stories. So well written and such beautiful art. You can’t help but fall in love with Tyleet.

  3. With time and distance between the creation of it and now, “Little Patch” is, and probably always will be, our ‘go to’ Elfquest short story when we want to introduce someone to the series. Yes, I had to paint it through tears, sometimes. And I felt for the superstitious humans as much as the elves. Those humans had no way of explaining Little Patch’s port wine birthmark as anything other than an ill omen. I admire his birth parents for not being able to strike the death blow. Everyone has a side in this story.

  4. And I just want to share this heartfelt comment from Michael McAdam – David, you were able to make coherent sense and view it as a story whereas I am inundated by the babbling stream of my feelings. You managed to tread those waters and still come out coherently! I feel, in contrast, like I’m up to my nose and talking underwater. My strongest connection is the ache I felt “as” Patch, who to me was the icon for all of us who want to join the wolfriders, to be with them; so bittersweet is their acceptance and yet the simple truth that a human can never be all that they are. And yet, a form of redemption in the sense that he is able (and willing) to join the humans after all, that the good things he has learned from his elven teachers makes him a better human, perhaps even changing that whole tribe for the better. The ache is lessened by belonging on one’s own terms (despite having to make the choice to scar oneself permanently), but it never disappears completely. I am Patch, we are all of us who love the elves Patch in some respect. Powerful, primal feelings of devotion and belonging here. …. aaaaand I’m babbling again.

  5. captainvimes on March 31, 2015

    I think that next to KotBW (which will always have my utmost devotion as best story ever written, and not just Elfquest), the first 5 HY issues were Elfquest’s masterpiece and succeeded brilliantly in fleshing out some beloved characters. The artwork was indeed amazing, rich vibrant and even glowing! But even more, each issue had its own speciality.
    – Strongbow story, where the majority of the panels have no dialogue whatsoever. (and moonshade’s eyes, oh my gosh)
    – Kahvi’s story, where the use of color between fire and ice was phenomenal.
    – Little Patch, yes, emotional and a fine example of how EQ holds up a mirror to us humans.
    – Ember’s tale, recognizable teenage behaviour coupled with wisdom (“who taught you to do that anyway”… Powerful!)
    – And Skywise, oh skywise. From such bliss and happiness to such loss and sorrow in just a few pages…

    Such a fantastic run.

  6. TyleetDreams

    TyleetDreams on March 31, 2015

    I loved this story. The hidden years novel is one of my favorite books and I do read this one more than any other. The art is beautiful! The story is rich with emotions and lessons, finding oneself, fitting in and at what cost, and a mothers love. It’s a win.

  7. I’m proud to say that my brother got me this one. Love it but then again I love all of them… :savah:

  8. Thank you for the discussion. There are lots of good points here. Yes, I have always loved The 1st five Hidden Years and always felt they were a high water mark for Elfquest. The art and storytelling were perhaps the best of the bunch for the sheer emotion they bring out in the reader. Moving stuff indeed, but you need the earlier work as a foundation so I’m not sure they stand as tall if they were the first EQ you had ever seen.

    I found it interesting to read the part about how Wendy could not expect to do that kind if artwork long term, probably due to the labor intensive nature of it. I have often wondered, even lamented as to why she did not continue with that style since it was so stunning. Seeing what was possible made some of the later work in the series by other artists pale in comparison, even if they were quite good in their own right. Wendy set the bar VERY high with the run.

    And yes, I remember as a kid wishing I could be a part of the world of EQ, so Wendy’s commentary about all of us as readers connecting with Patch is spot on. I think story wise EQ is at it’s best when we can imagine we are right there with the characters in their adventures, and Patch helps facilitate that. Heck, I think storytelling in any media works best when the suspension of disbelief is a achieved and the audience can feel as if they are a part of the action rather than a passive viewer. Not always the easiest thing to achieve as a storyteller.

  9. Oh I almost forgot, I remember enjoying Hidden Year 1 – 5 so much I clipped the coupons at the end of each issue and mailed away for the print of the cover of issue 1. Of course, I had to buy another five comics so I didn’t have clipped copies! I think I gave the original ones away to my cousin to get her hooked. I have the print framed somewhere still.

    Last year when vacationing in the Netherlands I stumbled upon a hobby shop/comic store and found a Dutch copy of HY 1. Their formats for comics are larger and of a card stock material. I found it interesting and picked it up on a lark. It still works for me an an English speaker since most of the issue has no spoken words. It was about Strongbow, after all!

  10. Heh heh, Myriad, I clipped the coupons out too but I never went back and got fresh copies of those issues.

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