At Comic-Con International 2013, “ElfQuest” husband and wife creative team Richard and Wendy Pini stopped by the CBR Yacht to discuss everything about the long-running series, including the trials and challenges faced throughout the series’ lifetime, the longevity of “ElfQuest,” how they feel about an “ElfQuest” film and more.
On the longevity of “ElfQuest”: “I would have designed the characters differently if I knew I was going to be drawing them,” said Wendy Pini. “We take the stories for ‘ElfQuest’ from our life experiences. It’s kind of autobiographical. Things have been really interesting, so there’s always some kind of story to tell that we can use the elves as a metaphor.”
“I suppose only the third or fourth time a distributor went under and owed us money [did I have a crisis of faith],” said Richard Pini. “‘ElfQuest’ is a very large and all-encompassing story, hero’s journey arc. We’re not done and we’re not going to throw up our hands in despair or celebration until we are done.”
On the fickle nature of the comics industry over the last 35 years: “I’ll tell you, when we first hit in 1978, we hit with a big splash,” said Richard Pini. “For a long while, we were outselling every other independent and we were even outselling some Marvel and DC titles. We felt great. We started with 10,000 [copy print run] for our first issue. Most comics were 400. Maybe 1000, 2000. By the time we finished the first series, we were over 100,000 initial print run. That felt pretty impressive. We were doing very well, we had our ups and downs. Then in 1992 when all the implosions happened and all the speculators went out of business and took two thirds of the comic shops with them, we did go through a rough patch. We were taken from Peter to pay Paul, but we did pay Paul. We got through that. We never thought we weren’t going to get through it. We never said, ‘We’re just going to quit.'”
On their upcoming partnership with Dark Horse: “‘ElfQuest’ has an interesting history because I think it’s the only title that’s been reprinted by Marvel, by DC and now by Dark Horse,” Wendy Pini said, laughing. “Plus, our own company! It has seen many imprints.”
“Dark Horse wants to approach it differently. We are the king and queen of recycling,” said Richard Pini. “If there’s a format to put it into, we’ve either done it or were open to having someone else do it. Dark Horse has said that they want to keep the older material in print, but they don’t want to copy, for example, the DC Archives edition — which were beautiful books — [but] they don’t want to simply reprint comics. We’re talking with them on a daily basis about different packages. One thing that’s very exciting is they want to take some of Wendy’s original art from the early series — it’s got all of the white-out and blue-line — and they want to do an oversized artist’s edition-type book of the beginnings of ‘ElfQuest.'”
On the “ElfQuest” movie: “We had an interesting conversation about that just this morning,” said Wendy Pini, “about the fact that ‘ElfQuest,’ unlike other fantasies, is not about good and evil. It’s about knowledge versus ignorance. There are a lot of shades of grey in the story and that is unusual for heroic fantasy. Usually, there’s a bad guy and a good guy and it’s all about that, but not in the case of ‘ElfQuest.’ Hollywood doesn’t get that. Hollywood likes duality, Hollywood likes villains and heroes and good and evil and good triumphing over evil — especially in high fantasy. ‘ElfQuest’ isn’t like that, so they have yet to get it.”
“It’s been a long trip,” said Richard Pini. “We’ve been to the altar a few times, and we’re left there standing, holding the bouquet a few times. It used to be that we really wanted a movie. Now we have gotten a little older and hopefully a little wiser. We’re having so much fun doing what we’re doing with what we have — new publications, new stories, we’re working with some new people — that if a movie or TV show or anything like that comes along, that’s great. But it’s not the driving force anymore.”