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The Metaphysics of Elfquest

Transcript of an online radio interview by Corbie Mitleid with Wendy and Richard Pini, broadcast November 10, 2002, on “The Metaphysics of Elfquest.”

CRYSTAL PALACE: Welcome to the Crystal Palace! I’m Corbie Mitleid – and once more we’re opening the portals to magic, metaphysics, and marvelous idea.

I’ve been looking forward to today’s guests for a long time. Wendy and Richard Pini are the creators of ELFQUEST. Published by Warp Graphics since 1978, ELFQUEST is one of the most far-ranging sagas in fantasy literature. Worldwide, over fifteen million ELFQUEST books and comics have been sold to date – and that’s made up of 4,800 comics pages, 2,100 prose pages, and 650 named characters.

But as impressive as these numbers are, for me the most important part of ELFQUEST is its thoughtful and deep-felt take on metaphysics – which I’ve had a chance to work on with them. And that’s the facet of “EQ” we’re going to discuss today.

Wendy and Richard, welcome to the Crystal Palace – the radio version!

WENDY PINI: Hello, Corbie.

RICHARD PINI: How are you?

CP: Good to have you here – we’re great! There are so many questions that I could start with, but I’m going to go right to the beginning: how did ELFQUEST get started? The two of you are radically different people: Wendy is a wonderful artist, very creative, very “right brain” – and Richard, you went to one of the most prestigious technical universities in America: you went to MIT and you got an Astronomy degree! Now that’s a real odd combination…

WP: (chuckle) Well, they do say opposites attract –

CP: That’s true.

RP: Well, I think that’s the essence of it. We each brought, even though we didn’t know it at the time – we each brought exactly the necessary pieces of the puzzle together to make this total picture. Wendy is the energy, the force, the light, the vision behind ELFQUEST. I like to say sometimes that she is the “battery,” and the electricity in that battery can make a light shine very brightly. But you need a wire to go from the battery to the light bulb – and that’s what I like to do. I like being a wire.

CP: How wired is Richard really, Wendy?

WP: How wired is he?

CP: Yes!

WP: He’s wired for sound (laugh). Seriously, I always find it interesting that Richard with his scientific mind is always able to express himself in what I would call quite spiritual terms. After all, it’s an exchange of energy, really, this process of storytelling, creating, getting the whole thing out there to the public, keeping it alive for twenty-five years and more – it has really been an energy exchange between him and me, a synergy and an outpouring of ourselves. ELFQUEST in many odd ways is kind of autobiographical and we’ve taken events in our lives that have been serious revelations to us and transmitted them into the universal symbols of fantasy.

CP: Well, they always do say ‘write what you know.’

WP: Mmm-hmm.

CP: So let’s roll back the time machine to 1978. Where were you both at that point? Not necessarily geographically, but in terms of how you were relating to each other, and the world, and what was it that kind of germinated ELFQUEST at that point?

WP: Well, I think I will start to answer that question by saying that as you can tell from the title ELFQUEST, this is a story about beings that are famous in folklore and fairy tale, but with a very different take on them, a more expansive, more universal take on the myth. And these characters had always been with me in one form or another since I was a child. I would have to say that since I was a child, I have never felt unaccompanied. There has always been a sense that I’ve had that there are other dimensions – and that there are beings co-existing with us in other dimensions. We can’t see them, but now and again we can perceive them, and sometimes they whisper stories in our ears, and we can pass those along.

CP: So that’s kind of like the imaginary friends that we all have – but some of them are less imaginary that others?

WP: Well, imagination itself is creation – and the Others, those in other dimensions, use our imaginations to speak to us, I believe.

CP: Okay – so there you were, with these imaginary beings – or not so imaginary –

WP: Not so imaginary!

CP: — that kept saying, “We got these stories, lady…”

CP: Now, enter Richard into this situation. Richard, when she started saying, “I’ve got these friends” – what did you want to do with them then?

RP: (laugh) Well, she sat me down one day and said, “I’ve got these friends – I’ve got this story – and it needs to come out.” Now, she had already established herself long before we met as a superb artist of fantasy and science fiction and comics, and – she sat me down. We sat down on the couch, literally, and she said, “Okay, here’s what it’s about” and proceeded to spin the tale.

CP: Were you doing anything at the time, Richard, like working in a bookstore or something that engendered this, or were you in another kind of field?

RP: Actually, what I was doing at that moment was teaching high school astronomy. I did graduate (after some travail) MIT with a degree in Astronomy and I was attempting to put that to some good use. I love teaching; I couldn’t deal very well with the politics of the school administration and the town. It just drove me nuts.

But in the midst of this, Wendy said, “I’ve got this story.” Now we both were fans of comic books from way back, and as she told what would become the story of ELFQUEST, we also discussed “Well, what’s the best way to get this to people? This is a story that wants to go out into the world.” And what she really wanted to do was to have a movie. But we couldn’t do a movie. And we thought, “Well, if we write it as prose, that’s interesting – but she’s an artist.” So we settled upon the medium of comic books, which some people have said is the perfect melding of the word and the motion picture.

CP: Back then, there weren’t really a lot of independent comic producers, were there? I mean, wasn’t this a big leap of faith on your part?

RP: We did try to take ELFQUEST to other publishers. And they said, “You know, this is just too odd for us. It’ll never go – it’ll never fly.” So not knowing anything other than well, what the little red hen did, we said, “All right, you won’t help us, we’ll do it ourselves.” And we did.

CP: Boy, did you!

I know that in the late ’70s – early ’80s – and I first heard about ELFQUEST in the early ’80s – there was this marvelous upsurge, and lots of fans, and people in ELFQUEST costumes all over the science fiction/fantasy community – but the metaphysics! It sounds like it was a wonderful story, but the metaphysics kind of grew underneath.

WP: Yes. As a matter of fact, when the story began, there were certain elements, certain gifts that the elves were given as characters – powers and abilities, such as – oh, for example, healing, or levitating, or astral projection. Things like that. At the time, I was aware of those things, but only, I think, consciously as storytelling devices – you know, something I might have learned about while watching Star Trek when I was a kid. And I really approached ELFQUEST in the early days not from so much an awareness of the metaphysical and was actually quite resistant to many things that I just sort of casually labeled ‘occult.’ And I wasn’t interested in them.

CP: Oh, I remember that –

WP: As the story progressed, as we began to get feedback from our fans, and as certain people came closer in to our ‘inner circle’ – and you were one of them! – we began to have things pointed out to us about the stories that we hadn’t been paying conscious attention to — that there were underlying symbolisms and very meaningful resonances with New Age thought that we ourselves began to be aware of, and that’s when I really began to open my mind and grow more in the scope of my acceptance of certain things.

CP: I remember very clearly the time when I kind of laid it out on the table is when we were all –

WP: (laugh) – which you’re famous for doing, by the way! –

CP (laugh) Yeah, I know, sorry! -I think it was Issue 19 or 20, the original black and white series – you had done this wonderful panel where one of the elf children, Suntop, was effectively “channeling” what one of the High Ones was telling the other elves, explaining about how the elves first came to this world. And you talked there about how these original elves were able to change themselves from shape to shape, and you showed four shapes: I believe it was a humanoid shape, a lion, an eagle and the sun. And I saw those, and I –

WP: Also there was a bull –

CP: — there was a bull, that’s right. And I went and looked at Card 21 of the Tarot. That’s The World. And there are four symbols that are exactly like that in the corners. So I said, “Did you know you did this?” And you said, “No,” and we started going around about it.

(theme music) We’re going to be right back with Wendy and Richard Pini of Elfquest….

[BREAK FOR COMMERCIALS]

CP: Welcome back to CRYSTAL PALACE – we’re with Wendy and Richard Pini of ELFQUEST.

Wendy, you were in the middle of talking about the time when I basically said “Okay, you’ve got metaphysics in here – talk to me about it!”

WP: (laugh) You really kind of backed me against the wall there –

CP: I do that!

WP: Yes, you do, and I’ve always been very grateful for it because you really forced me to look at – when you tell stories in fantasy form and you draw fantasy pictures, you are drawing on your imagination. You are drawing on that part of your mind that is kind of very trusting of the universe and just open to whatever comes in. And I firmly believe that as I was working through the years on ELFQUEST, certain universal archetypes were certainly coming to me and making themselves known throughout the story, and your pointing out the Tarot images only strengthens that belief in me – that there are universal archetypes that are just hard-wired into the human mind. And that they are instantly recognizable, whether we are believers in the metaphysical and supernatural or not.

CP: Okay, now let’s take some of those archetypes. Let’s take four of the characters. You’ve got the main couple, Cutter, who is the leader of the Wolfriders and his healer-lifemate, Leetah; you’ve got his best friend and brother in all but blood, you’ve got Skywise; and then you’ve got Miss Evil Par Excellence – you’ve got Winnowill. And I know that there’s some interplay, I know that you are Richard both identify with a couple of these characters. Talk about that a little bit.

WP: Well, we often like to say that if you took a mirror, and shattered it into many pieces on the floor, with regard to Richard and me there would be a little piece of us in each one of those pieces of mirror. And each one of those would represent a character as it has grown in ELFQUEST.

CP: Skywise has to be Mr. Astronomer. Is that right?

RP: (chuckle) Yeah, he would be the prime avatar, I guess you would call him. He was originally scheduled to be somewhat of a walk on character until I realized that his interest in the cosmos mirrored mine at which point I probably stepped in more forcefully than I ever had before or have since and said, “You’re not killing this character, this character is my character and he’s going to survive this story (Wendy laughter).

CP: And boy did he!

RP: And boy has he. But he does – his love of the mysterious, his sense of wonder at what is out there or what may be out there…in terms of sheer knowledge he doesn’t know what we know in today’s world about our universe but his sense of wanting to know what’s out there is as strong as mine. And his acceptance of what may be out there or how you might interpret what’s out there is something that I happily go through every day.

WP: As a matter of fact, a pet project of mine is that I have been working on an ELFQUEST Tarot deck for some years now, and Skywise is The Magician. Of course, the “dark side” or the opposite of that would be The Trickster, and Skywise does have some very mischievous aspects to him.

CP: Oh yeah. That’s one of the biggest parts in the story – “What the heck is he going to do this time?” So we’ve got that wonderful Magician-Coyote-Trickster energy…what balances him? What’s the opposite side?

WP: What balances Skywise? You mean in terms of his dark side or in terms of –

CP: One of these other three characters – Cutter or Leetah or Winnowill.

WP: Well, you have to I think certainly talk about his relationship with Cutter, who is the main character in the story. And these characters certainly represent Richard and me. People often ask me what my favorite character in ELFQUEST is, and I say, “Well, I don’t really have a favorite, but as far as characters go, Cutter is the one that speaks for me.” He’s my soul. And Skywise and Cutter are soul brothers; they are as close as two males can be. They help each other to grow – when one doesn’t understand what’s going on in a situation the other will, and they are just constantly helping each other through life.

CP: With something like ELFQUEST – I’m filling in our audience here a little bit – ELFQUEST is a twenty-five year fantasy series – we’re talking with Wendy and Richard Pini, who are the two creators – and what we’re discussing right now are the archetypes, that really underpin the entire story and bring out a lot of the metaphysics.

So you’ve got Cutter and Skywise, who are brothers but they’re not yin-yang…

WP: No, they’re not; and in the Tarot deck that I’m working on, Cutter is, of course, the Emperor. And he is united with the Empress, who is in the story his lifemate Leetah, who is a healer, an immortal elf of extreme beauty and grace, and she fits very nicely into the mold of the Empress who represents compassion, fertility, nurturing, all these things. And from the very beginning, I put those elements of myself as a woman into Leetah. I think the true yin-yang in ELFQUEST is Cutter and Leetah as mates: he is the yang side of me; he is my animus, my male-active force –

CP: Kind of feral, kind of rough –

WP: Yeah, yeah, the Warrior! And Leetah is healer, the nurturer, the life-bearer and the light-bearer – she is for me the ultimate expression of femininity.

CP: And then you have, if you will, her opposite number, which is Winnowill.

If people have not seen ELFQUEST, I want you to think of the most beautiful, sinuous Erté sculpture you’ve ever seen – and then put an overlay of gorgeous malevolence. And that’s Winnowill.

WP: (laugh) She is one of our more popular characters, and doesn’t that say something about human nature!

RP: Well, you know, heroes aren’t heroes without a good opposite to go up against.

CP: That’s true – this is a whole Hero’s Journey – now that’s a metaphysical archetype that I know you’ve both gone into, so let’s take a look at, if we can, some of these metaphysical truths: the idea of the Hero’s Journey, the idea of Light and Dark always being in balance but having that tug-of-war. Can you elaborate a little bit on those with these characters?

WP: Well, first of all, ELFQUEST is a different kind of Hero’s Journey in the sense that we’re dealing with characters that while they’re humanoid, they’re not quite human. We’ve always characterized them as being somewhere between animals and angels. So they respond to life differently and on a more instinctive level in a lot of ways than your traditional Arthurian or perhaps even Robin Hood type of character that people are so familiar with. Also, these are not the elves of European tradition, such as Tolkien’s elves are. These elves are more inspired by Native American mythology. They have very much a sense of tribe, of living together with the wolfpack symbiotically, and using the wolves as guides, helpers and that sort of thing. And there’s just a kind of a pounding drumbeat of tribalism that goes through this particular Hero’s Journey.

CP: So they’re almost like nature spirits with flesh, rather than elves the way people think of elves.

RP: Absolutely. They come from another place. They are not native to this world – so when they did come to this world as was mentioned earlier, they were sort of protean, in the sense that they could take any shape that they wanted. So in taking the shapes that we have given them, we’ve kind of allowed that they’re humanoid enough so that readers will identify with them, because identification is very important in storytelling, but the shape is just the vessel into which these spirits, these beings, these energies have been poured.

WP: Beautifully said.

CP: So – let me look at these. The fact that they are so different that you can’t plug them in – and that’s one of the things I know the writers that have also worked with you at Warp – Richard as the publisher and the editor always used to say, “Give me a story that is ELFQUEST, not something that we could plug anybody’s generic ear-things and wing-things in and it would still work.”

WP: Absolutely. Dragons and unicorns are out! (laugh)

CP: Gotcha!

RP: Not that there’s anything wrong with dragons or unicorns but they have been used so much in other fantasies, they have other associations and other symbolic meanings.

CP: Do you have –

RP: We wanted to create a world from the bottom up that was not the world as we live in but the world as we might like it to be somehow.

WP: Yes, we wanted to – we wanted the elves to represent some of the best qualities in humankind, but also some of the best qualities in the way that groups of animals treat each other. The Native Americans often learned how to conduct themselves by observing how the wolfpack interacted, for example.

CP: Let’s take a look at the sense of ELFQUEST – I know that very often fans have said that “ELFQUEST is self-quest” – but it’s also, when you’re going with that Native American theme, it seems like it’s also a vision quest. Can you talk about that a little bit?

WP: Well, you know something, I’m going to put you on the spot here because you put it so beautifully the other day when you described the first part of this epic quest – of course, there are many parts to it, but the first part we call the First Quest, the Classic Quest – and you described that as a complete vision quest.

CP: This woman expects me to have remembered it and written it down on the computer. Oh God! (laugh)

WP: All right, I’ll help you out. Basically, our hero, Cutter, is driven by circumstance to lead his tribe throughout a harsh and hostile world in order to find a safe new place for them to live, and in the course of this journey, which takes them to many places and to discovering other tribes of elves, and to the beginning of the reuniting of all these scattered elf tribes on the World of Two Moons, which is the primitive planet on which they’re exiled – they finally come to the Palace of the High Ones, which is the oldest relic of all of these elves, and it’s the vessel in which they came to the world in the first place, and they arrive there and actually learn something of their origins – so without even meaning to, Cutter sets out on a quest to really find the roots of his race’s history.

[COMMERCIAL BREAK]

CP: Welcome back. Corbie Mitleid, we’re in the Crystal Palace with Wendy and Richard Pini of ELFQUEST, and Wendy just put me on the spot! We were talking about how ELFQUEST is really a vision quest and she reminded me that when we had been talking the other day, I kinda nailed it – so let me see if I can recreate it.

The way a vision quest normally works as far as I can understand: one goes out, completely alone, and sits, and waits, and deals with what is out there, looks for some kind of a totem, listens for the gods to tell you what your purpose is and perhaps what your name is. And you come back changed, because you come back with your purpose. And that’s very much what Cutter had to do on this first – the original Quest. When we are introduced to him, he’s – what, Wendy, about eighteen, nineteen?

WP: He’s only in his early 20s, if that.

CP: He’s a youngster, he’s a young pup. And he’s driven out in this conflagration from their original home in the woods, goes and travels across the desert, goes to a Sun Village, meets the elf woman who is later his wife, his lifemate –

WP: Yes, and see how that follows the classic Hero’s Journey pattern? Because he’s driven from the ordinary world into the extraordinary world, he goes through the desert which is kind of like the, how was it described in the Ten Commandments, the Cauldron of the Soul?

CP: Something like — yes.

WP: And then they come to the watering hole and they meet their first allies and mentors, and so on and so forth…so it does follow the classic Hero’s Journey pattern.

CP: So you’ve got that little prequel, and then we pop forward six years – Cutter and Leetah have been lifemated, they’ve got a set of twins — and boy are they a whole ‘nother story! – but Cutter realizes, if there’s one tribe of elves, there have to be more. And so the rest of the Quest is his vision quest to seek out these allies, to discover truly what he is made of, what his race is made of – and he gets his new name at the end of it. He is effectively named Cutter Kin-seeker, because he is the one who has brought the four tribes together.

So there is a perfect example of how this world’s metaphysics are seamlessly brought into ELFQUEST and at the time, I don’t think you had a vision quest like that in mind.

WP: No.

RP: Since embarking on this quarter-century journey that is ELFQUEST, we’ve both come to learn a lot of things and have a lot of new things shown to us. For example, Joseph Campbell’s HERO OF A THOUSAND FACES and the whole Hero’s Journey concept – now these are things that we might have been, on some level, aware of, because we like reading fantasy, we like reading heroic tales since we were knee-high to nothing, both of us! But no one ever said to us, “You know, there is a whole underpinning that’s called the Hero’s Journey that runs throughout all of these stories” – but there must have been some sense of it in us. And Wendy, being the storyteller that she is, would have woven that into the stories that she wanted to tell, having been so influenced by these other stories growing up.

WP: And more than that – I think I’ve always perceived life as a story. Anyone’s life is a story, and we are all the hero of our own story.

RP: So later, when somebody said, “Oh, do you know about Joseph Campbell?” or “Have you read this thing about the Hero’s Journey?” we’d go “Oh my! Look at that!”

CP: Dang, as they say!

RP: It goes back a way and in fact it is archetypal.

CP: All right. So we’ve got a vision quest. Let’s continue a little bit for some more universal truths, translated from this world to the other. Let’s take a look at Earthling versus Alien and how in these days, you can either have E.T. or Mars Attacks! There’s not really much in between – but you try to walk that – walk the balance. How do you do that with ELFQUEST?

RP: You know the history of humankind on this world has, for most of history, been Us versus Them. And ELFQUEST was just our attempt to say, “You know, it doesn’t have to be that way.”

WP: Well, first you have to begin with delineating what feelings of alienation are. I’m a firm believer that there are people in this world who are of purely human heritage, human lineage, and then there are people in this world who you might call ‘hybrid souls’ – that the origin of their soul energy is not necessarily 100% human. These are people who often experience feelings of alienation and persecution from the get-go – not for any specific reason more than people who are totally human can just sense that they’re different somehow.

I grew up with this feeling of alienation, this feeling of having come from somewhere else, and I don’t mind admitting it right on the air. And I put these feelings of alienation into the elf characters – I mean long before Richard and I actually published ELFQUEST, I had been coming up with characters who always reflected this otherness.

CP: Richard, did you feel that kind of alienation too, or did you pretty much say, you’re an all-American boy when you were growing up?

RP: (laugh) Well, you know, it’s kind of hard to go back that far – I have to dodge the dinosaurs that were running around loose –

CP: (laugh) Oh please!

RP: — I know that when I was growing up, I felt – I was not part of the crowd, and I mean there are so many kids who grow up today who, for many many different reasons, feel the same way. They’re not part of the good crowd, the in crowd, the hip crowd, whatever – and so they turn to whatever outlets they may find and for me it was fantasy, it was comics, it was the literature of the imagination. And I was pretty much a loner in that. And I think since then until now it has been a slow but inexorable evolution and realization particularly working with Wendy and ELFQUEST that you know, maybe there is something to this, maybe the reasons for all of the things that I had felt and the things that I do feel come from some other place than just this week’s pop psychology book.

CP: That’s perfect! That’s what I want to discuss as soon as we come back from break. You’re with Corbie Mitleid and Wendy and Richard Pini on the Crystal Palace…

[COMMERCIAL BREAK]

CP: And we’re back with our final segment today of the Crystal Palace. I’m Corbie Mitleid and I have the pleasure of talking with Wendy and Richard Pini who are the creators of ELFQUEST.

Richard, you were just telling us your version of feeling ‘not quite one of the gang’ when you were growing up and that was complemented with Wendy’s also feeling like she wasn’t quite from around these parts. Now I know that you – with something like ELFQUEST, which is so powerful and just draws you in when you read it – you have got to have met other people in your travels that walk up to you and say, “This story is me.”

RP: We would get mail all the time – you know, paper mail at one point and now with the internet, E-mail – we get a lot of it that is of the form “I’d like to tell you but I don’t have the words just how much ELFQUEST means to me” or “how much it has changed my life” or “how it helped me in this or that situation.” We’ve met some incredible people face to face –

WP: Yes, the person that Richard and I are thinking about right now is a fan who came up to us at a convention. She was no more than four feet tall, and she had autumn leaves tattooed across her shoulders. She looked like one of my drawings come to life, and she stood there very quietly while we were signing autographs and we looked up and she said, “I guess you can imagine why I like your books so much.”

CP: Now the reason that the four feet is so important, people out there, is because the elves are not – you know, fitting inside a CrackerJack box, nor are they the tall Elrond elves – they’re about between three and four feet tall, compared to a human?

WP: Generally.

RP: The Wolfriders are four feet tall, the High Ones are a little bit taller – but yes, they’re small compared to us.

CP: So there’s this person who says, “Um, I bet you know why I’m here,” and you said…?

WP: I certainly made some smart remark, I’m sure, but what happened later is what sticks in my mind. Eventually, after we got done with the autographing, I simply had a chance to talk with her for a while, and at one point she broke down, and I put my arms around her, and she said “I just can’t stand being here. I just can’t make it. I can’t” – and I knew exactly what she was talking about, and I asked her to believe in herself, to believe in the feelings and impressions that were coming to her from her own soul – that this differentness that she felt, this Otherness – I asked her to trust that, and to realize that she had a purpose in the world, that she had come down especially in this body – this little elfin body, so different from others – specifically to do certain things that only she could do. And I hope that I encouraged her.

CP: Now that brings us to what I envisioned as our final segment today, which frankly is why I specifically wanted ELFQUEST on the Crystal Palace, because as people know who have listened to us before, we don’t do fluff here. We do things that you can take out into your life and make a positive difference.

So what I want to know is: for people like our little autumn leaf girl – and people, other people who just look at you and say “I’m human – I’ve always been human – that’s where I am”… how do you bring these ELFQUEST metaphysical truths into the world? Make this world better through what can be learned from ELFQUEST? Because a lot of science fiction/fantasy series – fascinating stuff, but it’s just not gonna work on this particular world.

RP: Well, if you try to translate ELFQUEST literally, no it’s not going to work in this world either. As Wendy has often said, fantasy is the language of symbols; and fantasy is the telling of truths, but cloaked in symbolic pictures or language or words or whatever. Getting ELFQUEST to work in this world has not much at all to do with whether or not you can lift a boulder by the power of your mind –

WP: (laugh)

RP: — or whether you can actually lay hands on somebody with a broken arm and, in the space of a minute, knit that broken bone.

CP: I’ve known some good healers, but nobody quite that good…

RP: Not quite in that league! It has so much more to do with a much simpler, much deeper truth, a much simpler and deeper ability, which is to look beyond the difference that is superficial, to understand and accept through these lines and words that we print on paper and try to get to as many people as possible, that within every one whether or not they define themselves or even know that they are human or Other or elfin or whatever – that they’re there for a reason and that that reason is blessed, that reason is worth it.

WP: One of the basic premises is not your typical good-versus-evil theme in most heroic fantasy. Our strongest theme is knowledge overcoming ignorance. We live in a time right now when there is a great upsurgeance of interest in things spiritual, which I’m sure you’ve noticed, Corbie –

CP: Oh yes.

WP: I think a lot of people who are Awake and aware are feeling this increase of Light in the world, but just as the Light is increasing, so is the Darkness rising up to balance that, and that’s why we are seeing the most benighted part of our poor planet rising up with so much violence and scorn and hatred. You know, this is the way the Cosmos works, that when there is great Light there is also great Dark that rises up to balance it. Therefore, I think the message of knowledge overcoming ignorance is particularly relevant right now.

CP: How can we do that here? I mean, one of the things that ELFQUEST shows is there are some humans who can listen; there are some humans who realize that they are neither gods or demons, but just different. How can we bring that into this world now, so that people like little Miss Autumn Leaf and other people we haven’t talked about are not just tolerated, but welcomed?

RP: You know, like everything else, we live one minute at a time, one day at a time, we interact with one word at a time, one person at a time, and you do what is right in the moment. So Wendy’s story of the little girl and telling her to trust in what she feels and to believe in what she feels and to believe that she is here for a reason – that’s how you do this.

WP: It starts with love, Corbie. It really starts with love, and just getting people to wake up enough to get past some of their fears so they can start feeling that love.

CP: What’s a way to start that, Wendy?

WP: Whew! (shouts) BY TELLING STORIES! (laugh)

CP: Okay, that’s good!

RP: ELFQUEST is us on paper out there. Now whether you write stories or draw stories or do radio shows or do storytelling at a school – you just put it out there. And if it sticks to one or two people out of a group –

WP: — hopefully they’ll pass it on. I mean, the oral tradition is not dead. And if you tell – the most personal things are the most universal, oddly enough. If you open up and share your experiences with others, they’ll pass it on – and so on and on the lessons can live and grow. It starts from the smallest seed, the smallest willingness to just put yourself out there and share who you are with the world and not be afraid to.

CP: I’m going to put in, if you will, a little side plug for those out there who are listening and all of a sudden their story bug is beginning to stir – Richard, there was a wonderful book that you gave to every single ELFQUEST writer.

RP: Oh yes! The title of it is the WRITER’S JOURNEY. I wish at this moment I could remember the author’s name…

CP: Chris Vogler?

WP: That rings a bell, yes.

RP: It’s still in print, if you go into a good bookstore, I’m sure there’s a section for writers and artists and so on. It takes a writer through the Hero’s Journey process that Joseph Campbell so eloquently delineated all through his life and speaks of how to take that process through your writing from your imagination down onto paper. It’s probably one of the best books on the art and the mystery of writing.

CP: I’ll vouch for that. It was a huge, huge help to me, especially when Wendy would look at me and say “tell the story” – “tell the story” and “where’s the point of beauty” – are those the two things you live by with the people that work with you?

WP: When I work with my artists, my assistants, I am always standing over them with a whip saying, “Where’s the line of beauty? Where’s the line of beauty?” (laugh)

CP: All right, listen. We have one minute. If you were going to give one metaphysical truth, one gift to the listeners saying “Go do this! It’ll make a difference!” what would it be, from ELFQUEST?

WP: Don’t be afraid to be who you are and to share it with others.

CP: You got one, Richard?

RP: You know, I have taken a lot of wisdom from this woman over the years and I don’t think I could do any better than what she just said.

CP: Okay. I would put a third for that. We have been talking with Wendy and Richard Pini of ELFQUEST. As you listeners could probably tell I’ve known them for a long time, I’ve worked with them. Go find ELFQUEST! You can find it at www.elfquest.com. There’s an entire world waiting for you.


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