Reactor Reactions

Dear Elf Friends,

As I write, I’m on a jet heading back to Los Angeles from Reactor, an animeconvention in cold, drizzly Chicago. As many of you know, Richard and I are bicoastal; I’m eager to get back to my west coast studio and pick up where I left off on ElfQuest: The Discovery. Yet my mind lingers on many pleasant memories of this trip…

When I’m back east, Richard and I always make it a priority to visit the offices of DC Comics and spend time there with friends and co-workers. Company president Paul Levitz always manages to poke his head in for a quick hello before he whisks off to put out another fire. And we always have a great lunch with our editor Bob Greenberger; Indian cuisine this time.

That evening we had a special treat exploring the fabulous studio/office of the fabulous – and funny – and legendary Neal Adams, still one of the greatest graphic artists America can boast. These are the perks of being in the comics business, getting to hang out with some of the best storytellers anywhere. Not that you get much eating done during dinner with Neal and family; your stomach’s too sore from laughing.

As you may remember from the notice on, we were featured guests at Reactor Con 3. Reactor was, well, a surprise and a revelation. Right away it reminded me of the small, rugged conventions Richard and I used to attend in our early days when the income from my convention sketches was most welcome. Reactor took place at The Purple Hotel, one of those “you have to see it to believe it” structures that defy description. I must confess our time there was a challenge as almost every square inch of the hotel is a designated smoking area. Richard and I are extreme non-smokers but we braced ourselves for the weekend – not only for the bad air but also for the wet and wild behavior of the anime/manga fans known as otaku (a term which means, loosely, someone who’s really devoted to this stuff) descended swathed in yards of duct tape and patent leather, slathered in punk rock makeup and spirit gum.

Cosplay (shorthand for “costume play”) was the name of the game and we were just amazed by the creativity and skill these very young fans demonstrated. What colors! What textures! What high heels… My gosh! Ten inches! We saw hand-painted fabrics and uses for duct tape we’d never conceived of. And yes, we even saw an ElfQuest character or two, despite the fact that today’s otaku are only now discovering DC’s ElfQuest mangavolumes.

I spent most of the con parked at the table provided for us, signing autographs and doing sketches – something I rarely have time to do at larger shows like San Diego. It created a wonderful opportunity to have lengthy conversations with ElfQuest fans who’d traveled, in some cases, a very long way just to say “thank you.” Moments like that are really precious to Richard and me. We never got tired of hearding what part ElfQuest has played in a person’s – or a whole family’s – life.

Tim Georgi, our esteemed webmaster, added “WaRP Wrangler” to his collection of hats. Somehow, whenever we needed to know where to go or how to solve an Internet access problem, Tim was magically there to assist. He was our touchstone at this otherwise wildly emotional, out of the way and, frequently, out of control convention.

We’re also grateful to chairman extraordinaire James Alsup III who made sure all us guests were pampered and fed royally in the Green Room. 31-year-old James, we could see, had an air of command that showed he was used to being heard above the din any otaku crowd could generate. He and Richard shared a verbal “moment” onstage during the opening ceremonies that, we suspect, has already passed into Reactor legend. Prompted by James’ remark that interviewing us was like talking to his parents, Richard came back with a beautifully timed zinger that is, unfortunately, not quite fit for print here. Use your imaginations.

On the subject of age, I gotta share something I think Elfpop will agree with wholeheartedly. Richard and I are both in our mid fifties (can you ‘tweens out there relate to that?!), but to us it’s a meaningless number. Fifty doesn’t feel at all like we thought it would. We’re still youthful, our health is terrific and, since I got my new hip, we’re more physically active than ever. Maybe hanging around the elves so long has rubbed off in certain ways. In any case, being with the very young, excitable, raunchy, super-creative fans, semi-pros and pros at Reactor just gave us a charge – we didn’t feel like outsiders at all.

Well, the jet has landed. Another adventure over, a new one about to begin. As I said, I’m busily finishing up the first issue of the four-part mini series ElfQuest: The Discovery. The underwater realm is new artistic territory for me; I’m learning how to master all kinds of wonderful color and lighting effects. However the WaveDancers (“fishy bishi” to the manga fans out there) are, I confess, a real rhymes-with-witch to draw. So many scales and fins and frills to remember – AAARRRGH!! But it’s worth it. They’re so lovely.

Some of the finished pages (from the beginning of the story) are up for viewing as part of DC Comics’ advertising campaign. You can find them at theComic Book Resources news site. (Scroll down the page.)

But here, to whet your appetite even further, are a couple of pages (page 1and page 14) featuring some old friends. As you can see, ElfQuest: The Discovery is indeed a direct continuation of the Searcher and the Swordstoryline. Some surprises of a romantic nature await our young adventuress Shuna as well!

There you are, cubs. A new WendyWords; I don’t know when I’ll have time to write again. Oh, for a clone or two! Have a marvelously ghoulish Hallowe’en and do overstuff on candy and treats – we live but once (this lifetime, anyway)!