What happens when a professional illustrator and an MIT astrophysics major start talking comics? In the case of Wendy and Richard Pini (better known as WaRP), they get married and team up to create ElfQuest, one of the longest running cult series in comics.
The first ElfQuest story came out in 1978 and set on planet Abode. The ElfQuest protagonists are tribes of elves descended from an advanced humanoid race of aliens. They were stranded on Abode thousands of years ago while exploring the Universe. These elves were looking for a new home as resources on their home planet were dangerously near depletion.
Bring ElfQuest’s Vivid History Together
The Complete ElfQuest, Volume 3 trade paperback comprises ElfQuest: Hidden Years #1-5, ElfQuest: Hidden Years #8-9.5, and the entire ElfQuest: Dreamtime series. The more than 400 page book is also a cover gallery and includes commentary from original creators.
The Hidden Years vignettes add depth to some of the characters from previous works. A standout chapter is Little Patch. In the story, an elf takes in a human child found abused and abandoned in the woods. It is sad and heart wrenching to watch a human raised by a tribe of immortals. But the story is beautifully told and illustrated.
The Dreamtime series is a collection of the elves’ prophetic dreams from their ten thousand year sleep. While the elves slept in their protective cocoons, the world drastically changed. Now, cryptic dreams must be pieced togetherin order to survive and reunite the elf clans.
Long time ElfQuest readers will feel the Pinis’ touch throughout this collection. Only one of the stories was not written and illustrated by the husband and wife duo. Readers new to the series should appreciate the episodic format of this volume. The individual chapters give a look into the world of ElfQuest, without forcing the reader to have intimate knowledge of 38 years worth of material.
Every comic book collector dreams of having that one amazing title, the one issue that proves to accrue in value at a rapid pace and surprise you with its market value. Issue #1? That’s the crown jewel of any comics series and really great series like Detective Comics can be worth enough that they live in a safe, not sitting on the coffee table.
Which is why it’s notable that PBA Galleries recently auctioned off a collection of comic books from collector Wayne Martin. The auction was held via proxy bids, telephone bids, real-time bidding via the Internet and even some collectors at the actual auction.
The highest bids came in for a very fine copy of the rare $0.35 variant of Marvel’s Star Wars #1 from 1977, which sold for a quite impressive $7,200. According to collectors, this particular comic is considered to be one of the most valuable of the so-called Bronze Age of comics (1970-1985). The back story: Marvel tested price changes on a limited basis and only printed 1,500 copies of the 35 cent version, every other copy being the then-usual 30 cents. Nowadays an almost unimaginably low price for a comic book.
Also sold at a good price at the auction were a first printing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, which sold for $3,900. That issue features the origin story and appearance of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Splinter and Shredder, with a wraparound cover by Kevin Eastman. Giant Size X-men #1 sold for $1,080, X-Men #94 sold for $300 and there were some Golden Age rarities too, including Flash #101 and Flash #104 from the 1940’s, selling as a pair for $2,700.
The auction also included Detective Comics #142, featuring the second appearance of the Riddler. It sold for $1,200. Three issues of DC’s 1950’s Mysteries in Space, featuring art by Frank Frazetta and Gil Kane sold for $1,020. Issues of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and The Submariner sold for hundreds each, and the weirdest and most unique of the collection was Our Gang Comics #1 from 1942, featuring stories and art by Walt Kelly, going for $300.
Star Wars #1 is definitely cool, but the coolest item in the collection was Dick Lupoff’s history of comics, All In Color For a Dime, which sold for $1,440. Not because the book has any value, but because it was filled with autographs and sketches from the legends of the comic book industry including Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Marion Zimmer Bradley, R. Crumb, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Jaime Hernandez, Marv Wolfman, David Prowse, Sergio Aragone, Art Spiegelman, Rob Liefeld, Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine, P. Craig Russell, Arthur Adams, Charles Vess and many others. A truly one of a kind item for fans and collectors that was a steal at the price!
So keep those comics clean and pristine, particularly if they’re #1 or really important to a particular storyline. You never know what they’ll be worth down the road…
I’ve always been a voracious reader. From my first “chapter book,” Charlotte’s Web, when I was six, I dove into all of the children’s and YA literature I could get my hands on–particularly series. The idea of following a character like Laura Ingalls or Anne Shirley–or a girl detective like Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden–for years, was super appealing to me. The story never had to end!
It was the year 1989. By the time I was 14, I had some experience with superhero comics. My older cousin, Bryan, had a large collection of Teen Titans and Warlord comics that I would pilfer when we visited–a practice that my Aunt Judy supported, as I was well-known as the family bookworm. The fact that Bryan, who was a big fan of Ozzy Osborne, seemed somehow threatening didn’t deter me: I would sneak into his room when he was out, grab gigantic handfuls of comics, and retreat to my cousin Danny’s room to read them in peace while he tinkered with his Commodore 64.
But I digress. It was the year 1989, I was 14 and obsessed with Axl Rose, and I was on a trip to Hawaii with my parents and my younger brother. My parents, avid golfers, would occasionally leave my brother and me to our own devices, which for me, meant (surprise!) reading. Midweek, crisis struck: we had officially read all of the Archie comics the corner store had in stock, so I was forced to read two “boy comics” my little brother picked up: Classic X-Men #33, and Uncanny X-Men #245. This is when my life changed forever. This is literally the moment that led me to where I am today, working for Things From Another World and hanging out in the comics community of Portland, Oregon.
Classic X-Men #33, a reprint of Uncanny X-Men #127 (collected in the X-Men: Proteus Premiere HC, which I also own), was an action-packed entry into the X-Men. Brief recap: the X-Men are in Scotland, fighting Proteus, a terrifying and powerful enemy who just happens to be the secret son of their ally, Moira MacTaggart. And he kicks their butts, leaving the team shaken to the core, leading Cyclops to instigate a fight with Wolverine and the rest that is visually fun to read and showcases each member’s strengths and personalities.
This was a great way to “meet” the team, and the drama of Moira steeling herself to kill her own son (who eventually took over the body of her estranged husband!) was intriguing to me. Chris Claremont’s rather wordy and character-focused writing style appealed to a girl who was ready to graduate from Anne of Green Gables. This issue also began my lifelong fealty to (some might say obsession with) the beautiful and exciting art of John Byrne.
Note: This issue also had a bizarre and gory backup story starring Havok and Polaris, by Ann Nocenti and John Bolton, that freaked me out: Havok basically imagines them dying horrific deaths over and over, and then rejects life with the X-Men. I admit this story left me with a very bad impression of Havok for years.
After reading Classic X-Men #33, Uncanny X-Men #245 was completely confusing. To anyone who hasn’t read this gem, titled “Men!”: this is a humorous issue after the drama of Inferno, drawn by a young Rob Liefeld (spelled “Leifeld”), in which inept aliens decide to take over the planet–beginning with Australia–while the men of the X-Men have a guys’ night out. Oh, and the aliens have a “Jean Bomb” that looks just like Jean Grey, which they claim will “fatally disrupt any and all relationships.” Since I hadn’t yet read the Dark Phoenix Saga or Inferno (something I would quickly remedy) the humor was lost on me.
While my brother and I enjoyed picking out various Star Wars characters that were extras on page 3 (Yoda! Jabba! Chewie!), we really didn’t know what to make of this. Was the Classic X-Men series the serious stories, and Uncanny was the funnybook? It was a headscratcher. My solution: to buy as many X-Men comics, past and present, as possible.
These two comics lit a fire in me that caused me to seek out my local comic shop for the very first time. I started a box; first with just Uncanny X-Men, later expanding to Excalibur, X-Men, X-Factor, and X-Force–the ’90s crossovers pulled me in. From that moment on, all of my extra funds were funneled into a back-issue collection I still have today. No lipgloss or tapes for me–I was spending my money on cardboard boxes, bags and boards, and comics; family vacations, to me, now meant the chance to seek out new comic shops that just might have that back issue I was missing. I was on a quest!
Looking back, two things strike me: one, I wasn’t introduced to comics via a comic shop–we always bought our comics at convenience stores up to that point. Two, it took me several months to realize that I was the only female customer at my shop who wasn’t a mom or a bored girlfriend. We’ve come a long way, baby.
So that’s my story: my name is Elisabeth Forsythe, and I’m a comics addict. What comics were your first love? Post your story below by August 16 and you could win a $20 gift certificate to buy more comics at TFAW! Standard contest rules apply. Open to Canadian and international customers, too!