Masques, Mentors and Meetings

Hello elf-friends! Just had to come back and check in with you for a bit. A few weeks ago I completed the 160-page graphic novel Masque of the Red Death Volume One. Honest to Citadel Mound, I don’t know where all this totally-oppositefrom-Elfquest stuff is coming from. But one third of the journey is already over and work on Volume Two will begin in August. For information, release dates, etc. go here to learn about all things Masque:

And check out the rest of the entertaining and informative Go!Comi web site as well.

That announcement made, the reason I’m here is to let you know that Elfquest has taken a shape in my life unlike any it’s ever had before. It must have something to do with the magic of the elves’ thirtieth anniversary – some kind of cycle has come full circle while something decidedly new has been added. Though we don’t yet have a name for it, Richard and I have both noticed it, big time.

The experience this year has been one of receiving feedback on a level we – and the elves – have never known. So many of you are showing up on the Elfquest MySpace page and in the EQ forums to express not only gratitude, but to tell us the story of your past thirty years and how Elfquest has fit into them, influenced them. We can’t tell you often enough how deeply your stories get through to and affect us. They connect us to you and you to us past all untying. Our lives are intertwined forever. We are One. We are Tribe. We are Family… even when we sometimes piss each other off.

Since it’s famous for being a wise-ass as well as working in mysterious ways, the Universe arranged it so that I would be outside looking in all the while this is happening. There may be some of you out there who can understand because you, too, have carried your own created worlds in your heads, hands and hearts for many years. To every such creator there comes a time when you realize: You’re not defining your creation, it’s defining you. And you must step back from it or drown.

And so the “Poe”-etic world of Masque has been occupying my head, hands and heart for well over a year, taking me to a dark and dangerous place where I behold the Holt from a distance. Like Scouter, I’m discovering that, in some ways, I see better from afar than close up. And while dwelling on the island of Penumbra, I’m getting calls about the elves I’ve never before received, from very high places – from amazing people who grew up reading Elfquest comics and graphic novels and who tell me they are now in the entertainment business, in no small part, because of Elfquest. How is that possible? That person is telling me this?

Yet how is it not possible? How is it different from the reader who tells us he or she decided not to check out of this world for the simple reason that they had to find out what was going to happen next in the story? How is it different from the readers who have told us of the deaths – sometimes murders – of family members, and how finding something to relate to in the story helped them survive unimaginable grief.

The story… the story… the story… My God! The gift of a story!

I, too, was formed by the creations of my heroes and mentors. Thankfully, in the course of my checkered career I’ve been able to meet and tell nearly all of them what they’ve meant to me. I had the opportunity to tell Osamu Tezuka, in the worst broken Japanese ever, that he is my sensei. I have shared a con table with my other comics mentor Jack Kirby and, all unknown to him, stuck a flower behind his ear. I have kissed both Isaac Azimov and Ray Bradbury full on the lips. I have knelt at Ray Harryhausen’s table and discussed, with rapture, why his Medusa scared me to death. I have lunched with Chuck Jones and – after worshipping him thoroughly – debated the merits of giving Wile E. Coyote a voice. I have also supped with my first guru Michael Moorcock, most members of the Star Trek cast and an amazingly modest Mark Hamill. I was given the first sketch ever of Jonny Quest by his creator Doug Wildey, another mentor. I have wildly applauded possibly the finest production of Jekyll and Hyde sitting beside its lyricist and progenitor Steve Cuden. I count Dorothy Fontana among my most respected friends and colleagues. I’ve met and thanked countless famous actresses and actors for performances that struck my soul and changed my life, countless artists, animators and filmmakers, too. Stan Lee, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, Ralph Bakshi, Janet Cummings, Yumiko Igarashi, the entire cast of Dragon Ball Z (especially Sonny Strait and Very-Monkey Sean Schemmel), Neal Adams, John Buscema, Boris Vallejo, Ron Perlman, Linda Hamilton… Were I to go on, this list would become ridiculous. Suffice it to say I’ve just scratched the surface and any names not mentioned played no less significant a part in shaping my life.

It’s because I know how much being thanked, far more than being praised, feeds the soul (and it’s because so many of you have openly expressed your thanks for my stories that I know this) that to the end of my days I will always try to meet the creators who have touched me – the doers – to express gratitude for their existence. If not for them, there would be no me.

This year at San Diego Con (and Anime Expo and Yaoi Con, too), I hope to greet as many of you as possible at my table in Artist’s Alley and elsewhere. Please don’t be shy. Come right up and talk to me in person. Yell at me about Masque if you want. Some of you already have. I’ll yell right back. But, hey, if you like Masque I hope to heck you’ll tell me. And, of course, discussing Elfquest goes without saying.

I will be doing sketches and I will – gasp! – be charging for them. You see, usually I do a large drawing for the convention’s charitable art auction. But this year I intend that proceeds from any sketches I do will be divided among several worthy causes. Also, with any luck, you’ll be able to meet and greet other artists who’ve worked for Warp and possibly get sketches from them, too.

OK, enough already. The birds are singing and my little Pomeranian Angel is wondering if we’re ever going to get that walk I promised her. Have a great day! See you soon!

Still Elfmom