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.”



  1. This is great. When the Pinis talked without specifics about where Elfquest was going to end up (the whole deal was still NDA’d at that point), I knew in my bones it was headed to Dark Horse. Their description of the unnamed publisher they were going with couldn’t have been anyone else, to my mind.

  2. Excellent! I was actually hoping their unnamed new publisher was Dark Horse. Then, for a bit I was hoping for IDW because I would love an Artist’s Edition, but…

    “Dark Horse may also put out a deluxe treatment—an artist’s edition similar to the recent oversized books published by IDW.”

    …it sounds like we might get the best of both worlds!

    Dark Horse, if you’re listening–what would REALLY make me happy aside from an Artist’s Edition, is a black and white omnibus of the Original Quest in the style of your Finder Library.

  3. I’m excited to see the Pinis find a new home for this beloved work, but…

    “The original “Classic Quest” storyline by Wendy and Richard Pini will be reprinted in Dark Horse’s archives format”

    The market already rejected this format from DC — in my firm opinion the older work needs to be in a relatively inexpensive format (I say go back to the Starblaze format) to succeed.


  4. Fully agree with Brian.

    The $50 archive format hasn’t been a sales winner for most comic shops for some time. Although it seems some publishers are aware of that and are pricing their backlist books not for robust sales in comic shops or bookstores, but instead are opting for “big river” discount possibilities.

  5. “Another complicating factor: ”

    This really shouldn’t be an issue, by the way. I believe it was Richard who was posting about making scans of all the art before sending it off to college.

    “The market already rejected this format from DC ”

    That’s a fair point. I have EQ in so many formats, but I skipped the $50 archives from DC.

  6. The Pini’s keep changing their narrative, which is irritating. From the beginning they always said Elfquest was 20 issues and Wendy didn’t want to do EQ forever because she didn’t want to get stuck with it like Tezuka got stuck with Astro Boy. Now they’re saying they had this huge big series and ending dreamed up from the very beginning. It’s OK to change your mind, but I wish they’d be honest about it. They never got to move on and create anything else that made them money, so here’s EQ again. That’s not against the law. But they are so dishonest about it. I haven’t liked anything they produced since the original quest. The Barry Blair years were disgusting. I’ll keep my Starblaze editions. There’s nothing more to see here.

  7. First, I’d love to see the original black and white released at least electronically – that’s the Elfquest I fell in love with.

    Second, I’ve never heard ANYTHING about a 20 issue cap and I was following and collecting when they published the oversize original B&W’s. Andrea- do you have a verifiable source for this information?

    Siege at Blue Mountain didn’t follow that far behind the end of the original quest so I’m pretty certain this story arc was intended to continue.

  8. “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? How about the *rest* of the stories as well, hm? I downloaded them from the ElfQuest site, but I prefer my (bought and paid for) dead tree versions and would very much be in favor of having the many storylines between KotBW and FQ back in print.

  9. To Andrea:

    There was a discussion that I had with Richard some years ago about directives to good storytelling, and to that he made it clear that a story must have a a beginning and an end from the get go for it to be a story worth its salt. I have absolutely no qualms with the Pini’s releasing Final Quest, because I feel it truly is something that (at least 95% of it) was fleshed out 30+ years ago. Wendy’s style may have changed/grown since the late 70’s, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Elfquest is, and always will be THEIR series, and they will do with it as they please. We are simply honored enough to be invited for the ride. Keep to your Starblaze editions if you must, but please don’t let your stagnant opinion of these wonderful storytellers spill over to the newer generations whom are just getting into the series.

  10. Andrea, I was reading EQ when they were still releasing the B/W versions and sending them in the mail, and I don’t remember that; I just remember them saying that the palace quest storyline would end at issue 20, but that the entire story of Cutter and his peers was more than the palace quest. However, I started reading EQ a few years after it first started, so maybe I missed something in the very early days.

  11. Such great news. While I have editions of the original quest in various formats, I think I would consider repurchasing at least a few of them, especially if they included some new artwork or other features. My current copies are “well loved” and I’m not confident all the pages are still in tact.

    As for the negative commenters that I’ve seen here, on Facebook, and in forums, I think you’re missing the point. It’s silly to call out creators of rich fantasy worlds as liars; you don’t know them personally and even if you did, there’s really no need to get into name calling. Who cares what you read in interviews back in 1979? These types of announcements shouldn’t be seen as an opportunity to identify yourself as an “original” fan who knows everything there is to know about the narrative and history of the story. Let’s just be grateful that, whatever their original intent was, the Pinis have continued to share their talents with us for so many years. This is a cause for celebration! Just let go of that “but you said” attitude and celebrate!

    I’m so grateful that the Pinis HAVE decided to continue their awesome narrative which has always been thoughtful, nuanced, and beautifully illustrated and I am happy to know that the Elfquest Story, which I read growing up, will also be a part of my daughter’s life.

  12. This is great! I am so glad a quality publisher has picked up Elfquest- and I’m so excited that the Final Quest is coming out at last! I prefer print. I look forward to spending my hard earned money on this! Wendy is the best! She doesn’t get half the credit she deserves for having broken ground in the world of American comics with Elfquest. But I have been a fan for twenty years now.. and EQ is the only comic I’ve read so far (I’ve read quite a few) that has never lost my interest, never lost it’s depth.. and that’s not just because I’ve loved it since I was eight years old. It reads for children, but it also reads for adults- it reads on numerous levels.

    That said… why reprint the Original Quest– again? Every single publisher that picks up Elfquest prints an edition of the Original Quest. New stuff, sure-That’s great. Awesome, in fact. But- and not that I’m complaining, exactly- starting from the beginning for (is this the third time? Fourth time?) seems a little redundant. Let’s see… So far, we’ve got the Donning/Starblaze editions, the FatherTreePress reprints, the DC archive editions, the black and white reader’s editions. The resized, Manga versions, and all the trade paperbacks… basically covering all the same material. I guess it’s good for reeling in new fans, but, still. That’s a lot of reprints! That’s a lot of trees. Redlance would cry.

    Oh well- whatever. I’m happy. If they are going to reprint the original quest- it would be nice to cover Siege at Blue Mountain, Secret of Two Edge and the Kings of the Broken Wheel arc as well. Those are getting hard to come by.

    Lastly… yay. Yay, yay, yay!

    I’m going back to work now.

  13. >> I started reading EQ a few years after it first started, so maybe I missed something in the very early days.>>

    I started reading with #2, and my memory matches yours.


  14. Brian and Joe – You may be reacting to news that represents only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. We’ve had several discussions with Dark Horse regarding what could, and what should, appear in which format. The hardcover archive-style books are only one avenue – and to be honest, Wendy and I would love to see the rest of the classic Quest (Original, Siege, and Kings) in that format, if only because we’re dyed-in-the-wool bibliophiles. But you may be sure that DH is also looking toward less expensive formats/editions as well. They’ve got ideas we’ve not imagined, and we’re very open to possibilities.

  15. If Dark Horse puts up an option to purchase digital copies in bundles at a reasonable discount over per-issue digital prices I will immediately grab it all. Typical per-issue digital prices are high enough I’d have to think twice, but I think they’d get a lot of customers at a bundle discount.

  16. Happy Happy Joy Joy! I think Dark Horse is a the perfect publisher. They’ll satisfy both the bibliophiles (of which Elfquest fandom has many) and also put the work out there in digital format in way that we’ve not had before, and at the same time attract new readers.

    I for one would personally LOVE to see Wendy’s coloration of Siege at Blue Mountain and Kings of the Broken Wheel. I also would love to see some of the non-Pini work republished. Sure, not all of it is as good as pure-Pini Elfquest (and most of even that is still pretty awesome), but there are some tales that are on par –or even better in some senses– for having a different artistic and/or story-telling style. Taken as a whole, it all just makes the grand arc of what Elfquest is even richer.

    I personally cannot wait to see what new iterations of older work will come out of this, and also can’t wait to see how the Final Quest plays out. Congrats!

  17. This news is awesome! Grew up reading EQ and have always been a huge fan. Incredible art, incredible story with incredible characters, and incredible creators. So happy to hear its at Dark Horse too! Loving me some Dark Horse Conan right now! I still have not had a chance to meet Richard and Wendy, but hope to some day. Maybee a chance sometime soon at Wizard world Chicago or C2E2…..(hope). Just incredible news. A new story for the EQ crew after quite some time. Hope it is the length of the original quest. 4 awesome new Final Quest graphic novels would rule!

  18. @Russell Duhon, do you know that everything is published right now for free on elfquest.com ? You don’t need to wait for a reasonable price, though it isn’t in comixology’s (or even cbz or pdf) format. http://www.elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics3.html

    @Roy, that was the last story published until very recently. Boing Boing serialized a prologue to the upcoming Final Quest story. http://boingboing.net/2012/09/10/elfquest-twilight-in-the-holt.html

  19. I’m pretty much with Andrea. Although I recall it a little different, more of a “the story stops at 20 and if we never did another one that would be okay” vein than a definite cap. A lot of the old readers have wandered away particularly in the Barry Blair days, but some even before then. Basically, EQ was our Dune; SABM was Children of Dune, KOBW was Dune Messiah and everything after has been God Awful of Dune. I mean God Emperor. Anyway. Just our opinions of course. Your mileage may vary.

    Nothing wrong with trying to get new readers but if you want to know where the massive (and we were legion and, as a block, rather hardcore) ranks of the old fandom went, we’re pretty much settled in with the original books on our shelves and the idea of ponying up for yet another reprinted edition on the “if you don’t the new books won’t match your set!” theory of collecting… yeah, sorry, not me either. Too old and too broke for that anymore.

    Good luck with it though. It is a classic; if Dark Horse hadn’t picked it up it probably would have just gone to Columbia and that would have been the end of it. So at least for preservation purposes DH did comics a favor. Maybe it’ll get the sendoff it needs.

  20. Why go to the trouble of reprinting everything when you can get the originals and various reprints already on Ebay for a fraction of the cost? Save some trees, people!

  21. I don’t have any of these out of print editions and will be all over the Dark Horse versions. Do you guys realise how long the Star Blaze editions have been out of print? DC did the first bit but not even all of Wendy’s stuff. I plan on buying the Archives and any over sized editions we are lucky enough to get. Can’t wait to see new ElfQuest as well.

  22. All I want to know is how many issues will it take to complete the current series. I have bought Elfquest starting with the first magazine sized black and whites, the Marvel issues 1 through 32, DC’s versions, soft covers, collector’s editions and archive hardcovers. I was even in the fan club until I stopped receiving the newsletters and updates. I will not start over again regardless of who releases them. I can’t afford it. Can someone just answer that one questio for me?

  23. @Tyanne – “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.”

    Assuming all is still going according to plan, about three years from this point, I’d guess? Maybe a little less now that Sonny Strait is lending a hand with the coloring duties?

    For any still wondering, looks like Dark Horse has decided to go for a pair of affordable, B&W phone-book omnibus collections to get the three main series back on the shelves.


  24. First let me say, Thank you to Suzene for the answer to my question. It certainly has been a long time for me since I first started hanging with Cutter and his companions. I read Elfquest at every opportunity but I was a new mother and my finances had to be spent elsewhere when it involved my new baby girl. So when I was able to pop into my local comic shop I bought what Elfquest I could find and it wasn’t easy. If they do reprint any previous editions, I would like to see them the form of the omnibus but not at a $100.00 price that would be tough to some extent. But for me I’d like the color format.

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