Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Elfquest interview... 

Dirk linked to this interview with Richard and Wendy Pini on Broken Frontier. It is a nice interview and has some interesting things from my perspective:

From the creative standpoint, I feel the most significant change is the overwhelming artistic/storytelling influence from Asia which, when done well, is a very good thing. There's a touch of "manga" in almost every comic or graphic novel you pick up these days, be it independent or long-established title. This isn't surprising, since imported Japanese product now dominates children's programming. Japan is practically raising our kids on the likes of DragonBall Z, Shaman King, Ruroni Kenshin, etc. - and we can't seem to get enough. When I was a teen, we had Speed Racer and Astro Boy and manga was a delicacy you'd only encounter - maybe - in the Little Tokyos of big American cities. Now, Japanese stylization and cultural idioms, not to mention moral and spiritual values, permeate the airwaves, the Internet, electronic games, movies and, obviously, the comics industry. This gives me a giggle because Elfquest, now celebrating its 25th anniversary, has been called "the first American Manga" more than once. A quarter century ago I was part of a, then, very small fandom obsessed with how cool Japanimation and those big, fat, mimeographed romance manga looked. When it came time to design and lay out my first Elfquest pages back in '77, I didn't think twice. Elfquest was (and still is) a love letter to Japan and a very deep bow to Tezuka Sensei, who was my strongest Asian influence (Jack Kirby being my first American mentor). That so many of today's comics creators have plainly been bit by the manga bug means two things to me: that we're in for some very dynamic, offbeat reading in the next few years - AND - that Elfquest was cool before its time and is cooler than ever now!

I had thought recently that the style of storytelling and artwork could appeal to manga fans, but it is distinctive enough and been around long enough that it never struck me that it might have been directly influenced by manga from the very beginning. I think this is a good example of a comic that has taken some of the good aspects of manga while remaining distinctive in its own right.

There are two sorts of reprints that DC has planned. One involves their new manga publishing program. Manga is taking the US by storm, and DC wants to move Elfquest in that direction - a move we heartily agree with. So every two months there will be a new volume of reprinted material that will be reformatted to fit the smaller manga volumes. The first two volumes concern the life and death of Cutter's father Bearclaw, the tenth chief of the Wolfriders and a very colorful character! Following that will be the reformatted reprints of the original Quest, starting with the very first issue that we published back in 1978. The second reprint project is the Elfquest Archive series, which follows in the footsteps of the various other archive projects that DC has published over the years. These beautiful hardcover books will reprint the material that Warp Graphics produced starting in 1988 - full color compilations of the original black and white comics. The big difference is that Wendy is completely recoloring and relettering the artwork - in some cases repositioning word balloons or captions to better show the art - and between her vision and DC's quality control in printing, it is more gorgeous than anything anyone has ever seen.

I've finally seen the digest volumes in bookstores, and hopefully they'll do well. The hardcovers sound pretty nice as well. Interesting point on the recoloring and relettering...

Lots of other nice stuff in this interview, from a blasting of the collectable secondary market aspect of comics, how working with DC is freeing them to work more on the story, new hope for the movie being made, and info. on the new Elfquest comics being made (thankfully actually written and drawn by them again).

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