Rings, Things and Faerie Wings

Dear Elf-friends,

I just read Richard’s thoughtful Matter of oPINIon and realized this WendyWords, which I’ve been writing off and on for a while, is also long, long overdue. Elfquest is never far from Richard’s heart or mine (though he’s the main keeper of the digital flame for the nonce), so I’ve created a break in my Masque of the Red Death webcomic schedule to check in and share, or rather sum up, some thoughts about the ebbing year.

Where the heck did 2008 go, anyway?! Especially since it was so jam-packed with adventure? I recall vividly what I was doing New Year’s Day – puttering about, blissfully unaware of what the coming months would bring. Yet, here’s 2009, just around the corner! Not that I’m complaining. Fall is my favorite season because it contains my two favorite holidays: Halloween (dressing Self) and Thanksgiving (dressing turkey). Come to think of it, is that the same thing?

Apologies in advance to the guys out there, cuz for the next few paragraphs I’m gonna go all girly-girly. I’m guessing lots of fellow females will be able to relate as I confess to one major, lifelong vice: clothes, clothes, clothes! And not just outfits… costumes! In my twenties I was a true competitive cosplayer (though the term had not been invented yet), achieving some kind of zenith with Red Sonja. Putting all that behind me with the advent of Elfquest, I never lost my love of dressing up for parties and Halloween. So many have I created and hung onto over the years that girlfriends who take advantage of my closet, now, know me as “the costume source.”

That’s one of the main reasons 2008 has been such a fun year for me. Among many other happy things, it brought quite a few opportunities to play dress-up for conventions and other venues. Richard captured a lot of it on camera. And he did such an outstanding job, I wish I could share all of the pix with you. But at least here’s a few of the best – and not just of me, ‘cuz it isn’t all about me. It’s about the genius and creativity of others that I was privileged to witness, too. Hope you enjoy.

The fun started with a “Madame Masque” shoot in a gorgeous Victorian living room belonging to my good friends Debbie and Gail. Madame Masque is the nickname for the part of my artistic persona that’s definitely not Elfmom. Deep maroons and purples are her colors and naughtiness her vocation. She can be arrogant and aloof like Anton Prosper, but also ready to party hearty. It’s a safe bet she never would’ve gotten along with Mr. Poe – he’d have detested such a mouthy, opinionated broad. But she does consider him a delicious muse.

To Madame Masque’s delight, quite a few Elfquest fans showed up at Yaoi Con this October to help celebrate the launch of Masque of the Red Death Volume One. Visit here to see a little photo record and report on the con.

This costume pic, courtesy Audry Taylor, belongs here as one of MM’s 2008 favorites: the Red Death herself! You longtime costumers know how challenging it is to base a getup on a monochrome scheme, finding the right accessories to pull it all together, etc. Silly and frivolous, yes, but what’s wrong with having a ball using your imagination? I can think of far worse ways to expend time and effort (ahem, Mr. Bush).

Which leads me to this year’s ultimate costume fest, FaerieCon 2008.

This family-oriented convention in Philadelphia invited Elfmom to appear as a first-time guest (for which opportunity I was more than happy to leave Madame Masque home). Having heard and read about it, I’d been wanting to see what a FaerieCon was really like. Well, it was everything I hoped and more…an absolute feast for the senses!

All the costumes were living works of art, impeccably crafted, ingeniously imbued with personality and the true spirit of Faerie. Wings, of course, were the thing, mostly butterfly and moth-inspired, by and large handmade, no two sets alike. My eyes were bedazzled and charmed with color the entire weekend. That’s famous fantasy artist and graphic novelist Charles Vess with the lovely flower fairy, by the way.

So what did Elfmom choose to wear? Well, there’s no way she’s built to portray Petalwing, so she opted to be the Golden Autumn Fairy. Here’s a rear view so you can see some details. It’s actually two sets of store-bought wings that I sewed together and hand decorated. The feathers were already on ’em, which I thought was a very cool touch.

Our masters of ceremonies were Mark Lewis, professional trickster and storyteller, and Billy Scudder the Green Man. (perhaps you remember him as Charlie Chaplin in those bygone IBM tv commercials?) I have a special fondness for the venerable Green Man whose stone visage watches over my garden. His likeness abounded at FaerieCon. Billy spoke through a device in his mouth that made him sound like he was on helium the whole time!

Not only the costumes but the vendors’ booths were enchanted works of art: from garland-makers to doll-makers who were dolls themselves. Autumn inspired the color scheme for many of the costumes, so I found kindred spirits right away.

The highlights of the con were the lavish Good Fairy and Bad Fairy masquerade balls held on Friday and Saturday nights respectively. The Golden Fairy attended the Good Fairy ball, but the bad Black Fairy (of which this is the only existing photo thanks to “Huskie” as she goes by on the Elfquest.com forums) danced Saturday night away, fueled by sushi and vodka martinis. Sunday, the Golden Fairy was back, none the worse for wear, to applaud two very young belly dancers that had astounded all the bad Fairies the night before with their beauty and grace.

Sunday was also the day of an impromptu autographing session at Donna Rankin’s booth Basement Books where I was astonished to see some of the rarest Elfquest collectibles on display. It was quite a busy little signing, but the part that really wowed me was the EQ fans that said they drove hundreds and hundreds of miles just to be there. It was great to see “Skywise”… strong resemblance to the stargazer, don’t you think? Especially facially, this young lady is one of the best Skywise cosplayers I’ve ever seen. We had a chance to hang out as fellow elves when I took a break from the Golden Fairy costume to simply wander about in pointed ears.

I also had a chance to make new friends such as Linda Ravenscroft, John Crawford and Bridget Wolfe and to renew old acquaintances with Charles Vess and Wendy Froud. Fittingly, as the con wound down, we caught three young fairies chilling out, about to make the transition back to the “real” world. All in all a terrific experience – one I’ll never forget.

The longer you spend time on earth, it seems, the faster time flies. Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away. Continuing the costume train of thought I realize that, for us, Thanksgiving has had multiple guises, too. Our lives have been such that there’s never been one traditional table, year after year, but many different tables in different places and climes. And it’s never been about the turkey, really. (One of my favorite low budget/high calorie Thanksgivings consisted of pizza and pumpkin pie!) What matters most has always been the faces, voices and loving spirits, some changing, some gone, some ever-present, that make up our extended family of blood-kin and friend-kin.

Richard and I hope you have a stress-free, pleasure-filled holiday. We’re thankful for you and all the many ways that you give back to us as much as you get out of Elfquest. If nothing else, please take from this edition of WendyWords permission to let yourselves be silly, frivolous and fun-loving in these weighty times. Believe me, you won’t regret it.