Thinking of a post this week was difficult. I mean, it's the holiday season. The company I produce for, Red Lips Productions, is doing a series of holiday specials. I thought I might jump on the band wagon and share my opinions on holiday writing.
It's the new year, so I'd love to tell y'all about the year I've had . . . and the year I hope next year turns out to be.
But no (maybe next week).
No. The one thing I want to write about this week is Elfquest. For those of you who have never heard of it, it's a graphic novel series about elves and their quest to survive on The Worlds of Two Moons, while simultaneously discovering their origins and what it means to be elves. These two goals sometimes work together, and other times are at odds with each other.
My dad gave me The Original Quest when I was eight years old. It was my favourite series when I was a kid, although none of my classmates and teachers had ever heard of it (how is it that I was the coolest person in Elementary school? And when did I lose that coolness. . .?)
Since then, every year or two, I've been rereading the series. Each time I reread it, I get a little farther into the series (there are, like, a lot of Elfquest novels). Each time I reread, I get a little bit more from the series. I mean, an eight year old can hardly grasp the complexities of the characters and philosophical arguments.
A few months ago, I got on a real Elfquest kick again, buying the books through the iTunes bookstore and reading them digitally. I finally read so far . . . I finally got to The Final Quest, the series of graphic novels that bookend The Original Quest.
And I cried. I cried so hard the first time I read it.
I also cried when I finished The Final Quest for the second time just a couple days ago.
It was the perfect ending to the perfect story arc in the Elfquest universe. Although Elfquest goes on, even past The Final Quest, it's not the same quest even though it's the same universe.
I'd write about everything that happened in The Final Quest, but I don't want to spoil anything. So, without spoiling too much, I'm instead writing about what Elfquest has meant to me growing up, and what makes the series, in my opinion, the best series ever written (ever).
Note that there are spoilers, though!
A Wolfrider's Life is Short and Sharp—A Bolt of Bright Fire in the Night
Elfquest is one of the only series, in my opinion, that depicts mortality versus immortality so well, so completely, so poetically. I think what really stands out is how both mortality and immortality are seen as gifts. Mortality is a gift for a life of danger, and experiencing every joy and pain The World of Two Moons has to offer. The physical body was chosen by the first first Elves because flesh was good. However, many elves, have gotten their fill of pain and experience. Tribes like the Go-Backs seek immortality through dying in glorious battle. Others, like some Wolfriders, choose immortality by getting rid of their wolf blood and continuing on in immortal flesh. Elfquest makes mortality a glorious experience, full of all the pleasures and pain possible. On the flip side, it makes immortality a peaceful life full of power, ability, and accumulating knowledge for the rest of time. The only thing that makes one better than the other is personal choice, and where each elf is on their personal journey.
Soul Meets Soul, When Eyes Meet Eyes
In the Elfquest universe, elves have this thing called "recognition". When they lock eyes with a special someone, they feel the compulsion to create new life. The phrase is soul meets soul, when eyes meet eyes. Isn't that romantic? The pure intimacy of recognition, the way they share their very souls with one another. Despite the fact recognition is involuntary, many elves find ways to choose lifemates on their own. Some even find ways to create recognition amongst each other. It's romantic, and no book is more romantic than volume one in The Original Quest. Whose love is more pure than Cutter and Leetah's? It's involuntary attraction meets personal choice. The result: the best kind of romance.
Man, who was little more than beast . . .
Somehow, following the elves in their interactions with humans helps me better understand what it means to be human. Elfquest shows the best and worst in humanity. Our cruelty, our power-hungry nature, our blind faith in deities that demand destruction. It shows, also, our compassion, our ability to learn, our ability to expand horizons to places and people not our own. What's more, it shows all of this primarily from the perspective of the Elves. Somehow, seeing the experience from the perspective of Elves, makes the lessons all the more poignant. It made me think about my own behaviours, and how I can be the best human possible.
How the fantasy is ultimately science
Even though The World of Two Moons is a completely different world, it mirrors our own in so many ways. Our myths, our legends, our development. Somehow, Elfquest manages to be a fantasy story wrapped in a science fiction graphic novel. Every fantasy element in the story, from human legend, to "magic", to "souls" and the telepathic ability of the elves—it all circles back to science. I don't know how Elfquest managed to do it, but I hardly have to suspend my disbelief because it's all ultimately science.
The characters are complicated and brilliantly different
Elfquest does a brilliant job of making brilliant characters, who are brilliantly different, and brilliantly complex. I could have thought of a little bit more clever way to phrase it, but the characters in Elfquest are just that: BRILLIANT. Although it starts as a series with a single protagonist, Cutter, it quickly unfolds into an ensemble piece. Despite having so many characters, it somehow manages to give each one a full, unique, arc. I study Elfquest as an example of how to cram so much into so few words. Is it because of the artwork that conveys so much emotion?
It all comes back to love
The number one thing that heals all is love. Despite all complexities, everything boils down to this one word. That all living beings, mortal, immortal, human, elf, troll—all they need is love. Love enough for others to seek understanding, love enough to be kind, love enough to respect the decisions of others. Most importantly, love enough to be full as a singular person, and love enough to be with someone even at a distance. Love truly conquers all in Elfquest.
So, there you have it, why I think Elfquest is the best series ever made ever. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a book series to read next year. It's available online through the iBook store, as well as other comic apps. Many of the novels are available online for free at www.elfquest.com