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EXCLUSIVE: Richard & Wendy Pini Look To the End After 40 Years of Elfquest

CBR: We were talking about surprises, what surprise characters and elements with the fans kind of caught you off guard, like, “I didn’t think they would go for that.”

Wendy: I was nervous to the point of having the shakes when the issue came out where we revealed the connection between Cutter and The High One, that they were one and the same being, just expressed as male and female. I thought we were going to lose half our audience. I just thought that the whole gender-bending thing, and doing it with our macho little Cutter who everybody thinks was just a little tough guy -- I was scared. Richard remembers how scared I was. And the fan response just blew me away. They were receptive, they were intrigued, they were like, “Oh, I can see how this was coming!” Because we did set up clues, and the relief I felt that we didn’t lose half our audience springing this on them, it was more a surprise for me than it was for them.

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Richard: I kept telling her. She would go through a crisis of confidence every single issue and I kept saying, “You’re good! They’re going to love it! You’re doing it right! It’s perfect!” And the issue would come out and the fans would love it; the next issue, the same thing. This one was the biggest, like, “Oh my God, nobody has ever gone here before. What am doing?” But like I said, her storytelling, humanistic, emotional instincts are bang on. And the fact that we’re deluged here [motions to queue of fans waiting patiently at the booth] speaks to that.

Wendy: Oh yeah, I think our sales even went up after that.

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Richard: Again, thanks to Dark Horse and our publicists, we got a lot of very good press ever since February. People are discovering it, even now. I gave a panel presentation yesterday afternoon, and we do this at every con, and we ask every time, “How many of you have never read Elfquest?” And hands go up. And yet, they’re curious and they’re there.

CBR: You did this harder fantasy/sci-fi blend, harder than Star Wars ever did. Almost predating Star Wars, in a way.

Wendy: They were born almost at the same time.

Richard: The connection to Star Wars is simply this: Star Wars came out in May of 1977. It blew the lid off pop culture by telling the whole world it’s okay to love spaceships, it’s okay to love outer space, because space-fantasy more than anything else. It’s okay to like fantasy and the fact that it made a bazillion dollars was not lost on anyone. The fact that the world of pop culture embraced it so easily gave us the courage to say maybe we can do ours, too.

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Wendy: Yeah, that’s what brought me the courage to sit him down on the couch and tell him the story; that there might be a receptive audience for it.

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