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San Diego Con, DC Comics, and color everywhere!

Dear Elf Friends,

This week represents another milestone of sorts, for Richard and me and we’d like to share our sense of accomplishment with you. After four months of solid, concentrated effort, we’ve both completed our parts in DC’s Elfquest Archives Volume One slated to be released later this fall. It’s been a huge, labor-intensive task that compelled us to learn entirely new ways to color and format each and every page. But I’m delighted to say, from the mock-ups we’ve already seen, the results are beyond anything we hoped.

In a previous WendyWords, I offered impressions of what it was like to collaborate with my younger self; back in March, I had just begun recoloring and relettering Elfquest “classic” issue #1. Little did I know, once DC’s deadline for Archive Volume One was set, what lay ahead. Though I’ve been used to meeting due-dates for years, Richard – as publisher and editor in chief of Warp Graphics – always managed to kindly grant me a little extra time, if it was needed.

Our new situation, however, is very different. DC Comics is no “Mom and Pop” organization. A roughly two-hundred-page project like the Elfquest Archive depends on so many different players fulfilling their parts on such a tight schedule that there’s very little room for error. During these past few months Richard and I have been meeting creative challenges and, with support from DC’s fine technical staff, solving complicated problems at a truly dizzying pace.

But, as I said earlier, it’s all been worth it. To show you what we mean, here’s an advance peek at a few of our favorite page “makeovers.” (If you’ve got copies of either the Donning/Starblaze edition or the Warp Graphics edition handy, you can compare “then” to “now”.)

Page 23 – Cutter leads the Wolfriders to the troll caverns as the Holt burns.
Page 64 – Recognition is beginning to have its effect on the Wolfrider chief.
Page 72 – We meet Savah for the first time, with some major art fixes!
Page 102 – The Bridge of Destiny, more dramatic than ever.
Page 137 – Madcoil makes its move.
Page 168 – At last, Recognition accepted – and beautifully so.
Page 187 – Finally, “The Heart’s Way” as you’ve never seen it before, if you were lucky enough to see it at all.

 

Pretty nifty, huh? We hope you’ve enjoyed this preview and that you’re looking forward as eagerly as Richard and I to the beautiful, hard cover volume (with new cover, intro, afterwords and other goodies) coming to comic shops and book stores this fall. And if you just can’t wait, the good news is that the Elfquest 25th Anniversary Special Edition Issue One will make its debut at San Diego Comic Con in a couple of weeks and be available in the general marketplace soon after. The elves have been colorized before, but never have they turned out quite so spit-and-polished (though we had to throw nets over a few of the little scamps to get ’em that way!).

 

Do You Know The Way to San Dee-ay … go?

Speaking of San Diego Con – as it fast approaches, Richard and I are happily anticipating the various ways in which Elfquest’s 25th anniversary is to be celebrated there. As special guests of the convention (which takes place July 17-20) we will be available every day for autographs and photos (please check the program listings for our location – sometimes we’ll be at the DC Comics booth, other times at the big autograph area upstairs). Here’s thecomplete schedule of convention panels that we’re slated to be involved with:

Thursday, July 17:
History of Self-publishing, 1:30-3pm, Room 16AB (Richard)

DC: Beyond Capes and Cowls, 4:30-5:30pm, Room 1AB (Wendy & Richard)

DC Booth (exhibit hall), 5:30pm-7:00pm, autograph session

Friday, July 18:
Jack Kirby Tribute, 11:30am-1pm, Room 8 (Wendy)

DC Booth (exhibit hall), 5:00pm-6:00pm, autograph session

Saturday, July 19:
Spotlight on Elfquest’s 25th Anniversary, 10:30am-12pm, Room 2 (Wendy & Richard)

DC Booth (exhibit hall), 12:00pm-1:30pm, autograph session

DC Booth (exhibit hall), 4:30pm-6:00pm, autograph session

Sunday, July 20:
DC Booth (exhibit hall), 12:30pm-2:00pm, autograph session

The Elfquest panel on Saturday morning will feature appearances by artists and writers we’ve worked with over the years such as Sonny Strait and Joellyn Auklandus, plus representative(s) from DC Comics to answer questions about EQ’s future in publication and other media, plus (and this is my absolute favorite!) Richard will be reviving the one, the only, hasn’t been seen for more than a decade, hilarious, fact-filled, might just possibly contain a nowhere-else-can-you-get-it sneak preview of “The Searcher and the Sword” ELFQUEST SLIDE SHOW! Please join us – it’ll be an absolute howl.

In addition, I’ll be sitting in on several other panels including a tribute to my first mentor in the comics industry, the great Jack Kirby. Richard and I will both be presenters at the Eisner Awards and, as is my tradition and pleasure, I’ll be creating a special piece of artwork for the Comic Con art auction, proceeds of which always go to a worthy cause.

 

Costumes Costumes Costumes!

But you know what? On top of all that, you can help us celebrate the elves’ 25th anniversary in your own very unique, creative way. In the grand tradition of hall costumes at San Diego Con, we’d love to see a whole bunch of you dressed up as your favorite characters from Elfquest. And we know you’re out there! Every year we spot a wonderful Sun ToucherSkywise orNightfall or two. But we think it would just be da bomb, on this special occasion, to have as many of you as possible running around the convention in pointed ears, driving the staff and attendees nuts.

To that end, Richard and I hope to encourage you by holding a little contest. Throughout the con, Richard will have his digital camera in hand. He’ll be taking photos of any Elfquest costume we spot, along with pertinent info about the wearer. After the con, he and I will go through the photos and pick our favorites. There will be prizes for the winners as well as postings of all the photos on the Elfquest web site. First prize will be a color sketch – rendered by me and autographed by Richard and me – of you in your costume. And, hey, you don’t have to be an elf. Trolls and humans are welcome, too!

So what are they wearing on the World of Two Moons these days? In Warp Graphics’ most recent release, In All But Blood, you saw that Moonshade (with a little help from yours truly) designed many new outfits for her kin – and even one for the adopted human girl, Shuna. But since the book was in black and white, you have no idea who’s wearing what color combinations, right? Photoshop to the rescue! To help you choose and plan a costume, here’s an elfin fashion show complete with descriptions of the materials making up their new rags. (Click on each character’s name to bring up a picture of the costume.)

CUTTER: Might as well start with the head honcho. At 500 years old, Cutter’s in his prime, wilder and more barbaric than ever. To Moonshade’s chagrin, he has very little patience with style. He’s traded in his short fur vest for a raggedy shagback cape with arm slits. His buckskins are also trimmed with shagback hair. He’ll probably never get rid of that trademark breechclout and feather.

SKYWISE: Always the opposite of his soul brother, Skywise looks very dapper in a new, form-fitting slate blue tunic with grey sleeves. Everything’s made of Moonshade’s finest, softest leather. He’s retained his blue, metal wristbands and boots but, in keeping with his new status as Palace pilot in training, he’s evolved a more sophisticated look.

LEETAH: As we all know, Leetah’s always been a real clothes horse. This new outfit, as her mom put it, reflects a bit of every style she’s worn. Her long, soft, suede tunic is asymmetrical and ragged, suited to forest life. But her turquoise, heart-shaped bustier and boots are made of strong, formed leather and detailed in a decorative, tribal way.

SUNTOP: A little suede and a lot of woven, purple Preserver silk (with suspended animation properties removed) and you’ve got a teenaged hunk to swoon for. His patchwork tunic and boots lend Wolfrider-y toughness to silken sleeves, sash and leggings that suit his softer side. Note the sun symbols hearkening back to his birthplace in the Sun Village.

NIGHTFALL: Surely our sexiest female warrior, she’s showing lots of skin again, as in the old days. This simple, sleek, leather outfit has a leaf motif that reflects her bond with nature and, of course, with her lifemate Redlance. She wears leather knuckle guards on both hands to aid her in aiming her arrows true.

REDLANCE: Well, what did you expect? With his joy at being back in the original Holt, Redlance’s new leather tunic, in three shades of green, is all about the forest. A fun detail is the row of stitched-on, leather leaves that hang over his wide, brown belt and over his breeches, front and back, like a fringe.

SHENSHEN: Leetah’s perky sister is secretly intrigued by all things human. And so, inspired by the clothes worn by the peasant women of Djunsland, she’s taken on the look of a saucy, medieval wench. Nevertheless, after many years living the rugged life of the Wolfriders, she knows the comfort and protection that leather provides. So, what would normally be cloth has all been cleverly copied in suede.

STRONGBOW: It had to happen – the silent, dreamboat bowman had to go Goth (or darn close to it). In no-nonsense, polished leather so deep green it’s almost black, with leather accessories in dark, reddish-brown to match his hair, Strongbow’s as sleek as one of his arrows. The most interesting, new detail is his choker whose ragged edges echo the asymmetrical slant of his tunic bottom.

MOONSHADE: Now the lovely tanner is expressing her mystical side. Her form-fitting, suede, off-the-shoulder tunic has an attached hood that trims the neckline in front and drapes low across the back (tight sleeves hold all this in place). Inspired by the red-winged blackbird, her red leather belt and hood trim stand out against the purple-ish black of her tunic and tall boots. Her double-mooned brooch is made of hammered silver.

DART: Wow! This is pretty close to my favorite of the elves’ new rags. Something about a bare midriff on a slender, well-cut guy…*sigh*. Anyway, Dart’s duds are as practical as they are sexy. With a little bit of Sun Village influence, his tall, leather boots, tight breeches, wristbands and top are reddish-brown trimmed with bright red. Along with his auburn hair, this creates a striking monochrome effect.

CLEARBROOK: Asymmetry is, again, the theme in Clearbrook’s new, warrior-like leather togs. Her colors of black, dark tan and slate blue are far from dull when blended in these dramatic, angular patterns. The turtle-neck on her tunic is unusual – it slits open in the back so she can get her head through and then ties closed with two thongs.

TREESTUMP: The old boy’s gone rakish in big cat fur tunic and boots. While his back is fully covered, his tunic front is cut open on one side for some interest (that chest strap is useful for things like clipping on his cell phone). The whole outfit screams “cuddly caveman.”

NEWSTAR: Ever our elfiest elf, she’s wearing a petal-soft leather tunic and high-strap sandals dyed a delicate lavender. Since she spends most of her time in the Palace of the High Ones, she doesn’t have to worry about bruises and thorn bushes.

KIMO: You don’t know much about Newstar’s grown son and Dart’s good friend, yet. But you will in “The Searcher and the Sword.” Kimo’s a gentle, romantic type and his almost Greek influenced clothes reflect this. Like Newstar’s, his tunic, cape and sandal boots are softest leather in graded tints of turquoise and berry blue.

As a long-ago-but-very-active costumer myself, I know that the hardest part of planning a costume is assembling the right materials at the lowest possible expense. The idea is not so much to be super-accurate as to create a convincing impression. Here are some suggestions:

1. To simulate soft leather, go to your favorite fabric shop and check out the amazing, suede-cloth knits they have now. Or try something that has a slight nap like thin velour. They’re not very expensive and you shouldn’t need more than a couple of yards for any one costume.

2. For simulating stiffer leather, you can use anything from synthetics to felt. As for furs, I’d haunt the remnant bins – you can make some amazing finds for pennies.

3. A trick I used for making cheap boots was to buy a pair of terry slippers, cut off the top leaving a half inch of terry all around the sole, then stitch one end of a tube of some leather-looking fabric to the terry.

4. Swords and hatchets can be made out of papier mache or even cardboard wrapped in silver duct tape or tin foil.

5. And what about those ever-lovin’ ears? Lately I’ve noticed in joke and costume shops some very excellent plastic ones (I have several pairs, myself!) labeled either Vulcan or Elf ears. They’re a good size and shape for our characters and, from what I’ve seen, cost under five dollars. If you’re doing one of the Sun Folk, paint the ears a darker skin tone with water based acrylics or – in a pinch – cover them with dark tan foundation makeup.

(Richard here: I’ve just heard from reader – and elf coin designer – Juniper Orth who sends along the URLs to a couple of sites that may be of interest regarding costume elf ears. They are a Lord of the Rings costume site andHightower Crafts, where you can order latex ears.)

There you are! It’s two weeks to San Diego Con, elf friends! Time enough! Get busy and show us your stuff! See you there, with ears on!

Much, much love,

Elfmom

 


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