Elfquest is back at Dark Horse with archives and new stories
The resilient Elfquest saga has arisen yet again, this time at Dark Horse which will publish a variety of reprints and new stories starting this fall, it was announced today at the 2013 Diamond Retailer Summit.
The original “Classic Quest” storyline by Wendy and Richard Pini will be reprinted in Dark Horse’s archives format, along with companion pieces such as Siege at Blue Mountain and Kings of the Broken Wheel. And brand new stories—the storyline known as the “Final Quest”—are coming as well. The books wll be available digitally on all the platforms that Dark Horse is currently on.
While plans for the relaunch are still emerging, the GN version of the “Prologue” story that was recently serialized on Boing Boing will be published this fall in time for New York Comic-Con. Final Quest will eventually take up three volumes of about 160 pages each. “It has a beginning, middle, and end,” says Wendy Pini, the artist and main creative force behind the series.
Dark Horse may also put out a deluxe treatment—an artist’s edition similar to the recent oversized books published by IDW.
Since launching in 1978 as one of the pioneering self-published comics, Elfquest—the story of a tribe of wolf-riding elves who set out to find a new home—has undergone a publishing journey almost as episodic. Creators Wendy and Richard Pini published the much loved original stories, but over the years various editions have been published by Marvel, Donning and most recently DC, which put out their own “archives edition” in the early 2000s.
DC eventually dropped the license, even as the property seemed headed for a movie at WB. That deal also ended, and in recent years, the Pinis have turned to the internet to publish. The entire original saga is available for free online, while new stories have been serialized at Boing Boing.
The Dark Horse deal came about as the Pinis searched for a new publisher in recent years, says Richard Pini. “We courted a few of the bigger publishers, but Dark Horse actually courted us back. Ultimately we decided to go with them for a multi-faceted program.”
According to Wendy, the Final Quest storyline will take about four years for her to finish and although it isn’t the final Elfquest story ever, it is the final consolidation of the long story arc that has been going on for years and years. “The Boing Boing serialization went really well, and got the fans very excited to know the rest of the story.” It ended on a cliffhanger which the Dark Horse edition will answer. “Whether or not you know Elfquest you’ll b able to get into the story,” says Richard.
Which was part of the whole idea, says Wendy. “Every time Elfquest goes out there we always need to introduce the next generation to the story.”
The story of Final Quest follows the elves who have discovered The Palace of the High Ones, where they discover great power. “It’s changing who they are,” says Wendy, and everyone must choose which path to follow. “From the very beginning we had an ending in mind,” she says. “We just had no idea it was going to take 37 years.“
Returning to create new material after all that time is still exciting for Pini. “I’m as in love with it as ever,” she says. She notes that working on a boy love-centric adaptation of Masque of the Red Death also allowed her to explore certain storylines that “that made me grow very much, in terms of insights and darkness and bad motivations.” Working on those themes allowed her to be ever freer when returning to Elfquest.
The Dark Horse/Elfquest pact is a new one, so details of the publishing rollout have yet to be finalized. Another complicating factor: the Pinis recently agreed to donate their archives—including all their original art—to Columbia University‘s library. “As we speak I have embarked on a massive high resolution scanning project,” says Richard. “Once we pass on the physical boards, not even we will b able to take them out.”
Although the donation made their lives a little more difficult, it was worth it, he says “It’s so amazing to know it’s going to be safe there.”
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.