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Don't Mock Wendy's Art

Thornbrake

Dark Horse posted a pic of Final Quest #7 to their Facebook page, and a few ignorant people posted some snarky comments mocking Wendy's art.

Well, we couldn't let THAT go unanswered, and several of us fans have posted our own commentary to set the record straight (you should too).

@SpiralLight went above and beyond and posted this response, which I think strikes the perfect balance of snark-shaming and ass-kicking. It's so awesome I had to share it here.

People often think that every opinion, especially their own, deserves equal consideration and respect. This is not true of course, because some opinions are informed, while others are built on loose sand without any weight. Some people, in increasing numbers, also make the error of equating snark and insolence with intellect and enlightenment. This is also, obviously, not true. Yet those who do so will carry on as they will and those who recognize them for what they are (or are not) will continue to engage in activities which actually stand the chance of leading to achievements of praiseworthy and historical consequence.

Wendy and Richard Pini are pioneers on multiple stages, both in the comics industry and otherwise. Wendy herself has touched on some of these reasons above. Currently, Wendy is breaking ground once again on a literal stage with her ‘Masque of the Red Death’.

Wendy was chosen to represent the Ron Koslow ‘Beauty and the Beast’ series in graphic novel form resulting in two volumes. Her work in both is luminous. The ‘Beauty and the Beast’ television series has been credited with helping to launch the admirable career of Ron Pearlman (as he describes in his new autobiography). It is also worth noting that the current fandom darling, George R. R. Martin, was a major part of that production. For those who enjoy trivia, in one episode, Lance Henriksen plays an assassin named Snow. In a night scene, he is talking to his employer and mentions the cold. His employer states, “Winter’s coming.” Shades of the future.

In truth, most of the negative opinions concerning ‘ElfQuest’ stem from tertiary players in the comic industry. These are not the creators – the writers and artists who put their own blood, sweat and tears out there – but the ones who buy or sell the finished work. The creators themselves, the ones who operate on the top tiers of the comic world, the ones who actually build the universes that the tertiaries thrive on, often have a great deal of respect for the Pinis and their work. That is why Wendy has an entire album of original artwork from many of these fellow creators who drew various homages to ‘ElfQuest’. People like her friend and contemporary Stan Sakai, creator of ‘Usagi Yojimbo’. Wendy and Richard long ago earned the respect and admiration of those who count in the comic field – the major players.

And that is why there are many examples of homages to both Wendy and Richard in the actual published work of others. For example, Kitty Pryde sporting an ‘ElfQuest’ t-shirt in ‘Uncanny X-Men’ #153. Or Wendy’s characters showing up in ‘Cerebus’ #52. ‘ElfQuest’ homages have made appearances in ‘Fantastic Four’ and ‘Superman and the New Doom Patrol’ among others. There are entire issues that are tongue-in-cheek mashups of various universes with ‘ElfQuest’, such as ‘Elf-Thing’ and ‘Elftrek’.

Wendy has been invited to contribute to such titles as ‘Frank Frazetta Fantasy Illustrated’, ‘Epic Illustrated’, ‘Superman Anniversary Issue 1984’, ‘Bizarre Adventures’ and ‘The Sensational She-Hulk’. There’s plenty out there to discover for the honest searcher. A photo of a young Wendy in her pioneering role as one of the first cosplayers (long before there was a name for the craft) appears in the massive tome: ’75 years of Marvel’, where she represented Red Sonja as a member of The Hyborian Players in the mid 1970s. She also appeared as Red Sonja on the Michael Douglas Show in 1977 in support of Phil Seuling. Frank Thorne used her as a model for one of his ‘Red Sonja’ stories.

Do you like your graphic novels? Do you like your independent comics? You can thank the Pinis then. They are major reasons that both of those currently exist and even thrive.

Other evidence of their place of honor in comic history? Wendy was recently interviewed for a new NHK documentary on her mentor, Osamu Tezuka where she was requested to represent American comics. ‘ElfQuest’ and the original documents of the Pinis have also recently been installed into the archives of Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library. They were celebrated at the opening of the exhibition that just closed days ago called “Comics at Columbia: Past, Present, Future”. Their fellow inductees for the prestigious comic and graphic novel collection at Columbia University, which is curated by Karen Green, include: Al Jaffee, Charles Saxon, Chris Claremont, Paul Levitz, Stan Lee, Harvey Kurtzman and Howard Cruse.

Wendy was asked by NASA to create an entirely new ‘ElfQuest’ style character – Starfire. ‘ElfQuest’ fan and leader of the NASA Lewis ELF team, Dennis Stocker, contacted Richard Pini to request the character to represent the Enclosed Laminar Flames experiment on shuttle mission STS-87 in 1997. This is the first comic book character ever to join NASA into near-Earth space.

Wendy and Richard have such credentials in the comic world and history that they met by writing fan letters in ‘Silver Surfer’ publications.

Oh, people do love to repeat that tired old chestnut: “I don’t know anything about art but I know what I like.” How sad really. Because that is not only an admission of ignorance on the subject about which they may be waxing poetic, or more likely snarking, but also an act of celebrating that ignorance in themselves, as if it should be lauded as a virtue. There are those who do know something about art. They see through the smoke and bravado of the touristy art world dabblers who often love to express obtuse opinions on any stage available to them. And they can recognize the superior skill and talent in various art forms that Wendy Pini clearly exhibits.

But perhaps you consider yourself a future player of note in the comic scene or some other art industry. Perhaps you consider yourself an amazing yet, thus far, undiscovered talent. You’ll find your path has been cleared in many ways by the decades of work put in by Wendy and Richard. They were there long before you cutting back the brush and clearing out the stones. And if you can learn the ever useful skill of clamping your howling screamer (both in written and verbal form) once in a while, you might find that you can learn endless useful things from someone who is a proven talent such as Wendy Pini.

Ultimately, anyone can snark away as much as they like. Just understand that to the creators in the comic world, it amounts to the minor irritations of sand fleas. And in some cases, you may be burning bridges that you would find highly useful down the road.


AYOOOOAH SpiralLight!

lunakat

I think a bunch of people got on it. Great comment!

Embala

Well said.

Llannen

Going to look up the link but WOW @SpiralLight!!!!! The fluidity and concise and intelligence of this is so FREAKING awesome. What a fun history to read too....it's all in one place and is mind blowing! *-:)

Edited to add this: Soooo....I was wondering who SpiralLight was....and now I know. !Rainsong Not surprised now. :)

Mkal

This is what I had to say on the matter to one person....


Sad that you consider yourself an artist, yet know nothing of the contributions that Wendy Pini did in order for you to be considered a viable talent in this country.

Elfquest first appeared in the underground comic magazine "Fantasy Quarterly" in February of 1978.

That's right, 37 YEARS ago.

Probably longer than you have been alive on this world.

Because of the immediate outpouring of support of their story, Wendy and her husband, Richard, decided to do something that was considered insane back then.

They created their own independent comic.

Elfquest had everything going against it.

It was not the conventional comic book size (8.25"x11").
It was in black and white.
It was a quarterly publication (that means only 4 times a year)
It was drawn by a WOMAN.

What is sad are artists, such as yourself that fail to recognize the people that paved the way for women, such as yourself, to be taken seriously in this industry.

You go ahead and Google "Wendy Pini" and treat yourself to a very interesting lesson about this remarkable woman and all she had done.

If it wasn't for Wendy, there would never have been the success of the graphic novel phenomenon that occurred here in the early 80's.

I was one of those teenagers that remembers that only graphic novel you could find in big box bookstores (Waldenbooks and B. Dalton Booksellers) was Elfquest.

Do a little research before you decide to make uneducated criticisms of real artists in the world. It only makes you look foolish.

One thing that I will never understand is people that decide to make snide comments about an artist and true pioneer.

Here is another little factoid that you may want to consider about Wendy and Elfquest.

Elfquest was up for being made into an animated film by Warner Brothers back in 2008.

It was only dropped because of the upcoming Hobbit movies being made.
Having a major motion picture want to make a movie on your creation really puts your little "Looks like my friend trying to draw manga from middle school..." comment into perspective.


Shade and Sweet Water...

Tam

*applause*

Vaeri

probably a smart idea to NOT knock someone who's been doing something longer than you've been alive. i'm now intrigued on what this person said that riled up such a call to arms.

edit: i saw. person said it was a joke, though it was a rather lousy joke. wendy sure as heck draws better than i did in middle school! circle heads and oblong limbs and rectangular bodies...XD

Zeina

There were some extremely rude people posting. Like trolling big time.

marinayurk

It is possible to blacken, scarify and mock at any person, what talented or dull he was. A question how to react to these remarks...
It is a pity that the ignorant person will read a sneer, and will decide that so it also is necessary. But the truth all the same will get out, and at Wendy there are a lot of admirers and defenders.
There is such clever thought: "Even if you have angelic wings behind the back, noise of these wings will disturb all the same someone".

Night_Tanem

You're absolutely right, Wendy's work shouldn't be mocked. However idiots like this give opportunities to Wendy's fans to show support and they did. Haters are negligible when enough love is shown... no?

jaRf

Sorry, could anybody explain me what's wrong with the art of Wendy? Her style shifted lightly since 1978 (quite a time) but I don't see a problem.
You can tell the people from me that her art is okay. It's just that I can't because I don't have facebook and I don't intend to set up an account there.

(I guess most of them can't even draw a picture half as good as Wendy does. But then it's freedom of speech and people are allowed to mock. Maybe they're drunken. Well, but we're allowed not to listen to them. ;) )

Thornbrake

The best part is that after Wendy herself responded, and our whole pack came to the defense, one of the critical posters actually apologized and another one deleted his comment.

So basically, we just made THIS happen. *-:)

Johnno

Great response by SpiralLight! Thanks for saying what so many of us feel about Wendy and Richard and their pioneering work.

Tavie

Well, that thread was a highly satisfying read!

lunakat

I actually thought that the apology posted by Brittany was pretty cool on her part. Most people would have reacted defensively- or offensively... and she took it all in stride, acknowledged her mistake and was graceful about it. On the other hand... now she knows not to make fun of an accomplished artist she has never researched. Do that, and you sort of end end up making a fool of yourself. But hey- we live and learn.

willderbeast

I'll happily kick the arse of anyone who mocks Wendy's artwork. That is all.

RichardPini

Mkal said: It was a quarterly publication (that means only 4 times a year)


If you want an extra skosh of contrarian legitimacy, Warp's Elfquest was never quarterly. It was published every four months, not three, making readers wait 33% longer than a quarterly publication ... and 300% longer than the monthlies everyone was used to! But wait they did, to the point where by issue #20, EQ was outselling even some of the Batman and X-Men titles.

skraea

Wendy's art was always among the best in comics. If it weren't for Elfquest paving the way, there probably wouldn't be a Bone or any other recent independent comic.