This is a toughie, because the examples from which I want to choose range wide and deep, yet I want to kick this thread off with a single instance. I hope everyone who reads this will then add to it. I want also to avoid any whiff of cronyism – which might, to an outside observer, seem impossible. Nevertheless, I’m not here because of a 40+ year personal and professional relationship with Wendy Pini. I’m here because of the intensifying (even to me) realization that Wendy has been and continues to be, in so many ways, a pioneer.
Preface: A few months ago, we posted the link to an article that called Wendy “the original Queen of Cosplay” based in large part upon the “Red Sonja and the Wizard Show” she created in the late 1970s, pre-Elfquest. Certainly, conventions had for years featured masquerade competitions (some even presenting wee skits for the judges and audience), but comicdom had seen nothing like this before. From the article: “Those who love Wendy Pini have one more reason to now. Not a simple cheesecake pin-up girl, Wendy embodied the independent, untamed, take-no-prisoners qualities that make Red Sonja a perennial favorite of fantasy comic readers.” That’s what cosplay is all about – donning and staying in character, come hell or high emcees.
Bringing it closer to home, Elfquest has – on more than one occasion – been called “the first American manga.” Wendy took two fairly disparate comic book art styles and storytelling traditions – Western, American, masculine, physical; and Eastern, Japanese, feminine, spiritual – and melded the best qualities of both into a new form unlike any that had gone before. The effect was, well… Scott McCloud, author of “Reinventing Comics” (a sequel to his ground-breaking “Understanding Comics”), put it into three panels.
Panel 3 says it all. (And I don’t believe it’s true only for girls – we’ve heard quietly from many creators, male and female alike, who’ve said in essence “If it wasn’t for Elfquest, I wouldn’t be in comics – or film, or animation, or…”) We’re always grateful for those nods from fellow creators, but I want to start chipping away at that modifier “quietly” up there. I’m throwing down the gauntlet. Wendy’s a pioneer in many creative ways. Who among all you out there will help me (and EQ’s fellow facilitators) get her story on NPR, or Oprah, or…? Let’s make some noise!