LGBT Elves in Elfquest: Part 3
“Elfquest art copyright Warp Graphics, Inc. Elfquest, its logos, characters, situations, all related indicia, and their distinctive likenesses are trademarks of Warp Graphics, Inc. All rights reserved.”
Centuries have passed on the ‘World of Two Moons”, now called Abode. In this age of space travel and solar system colonization, the Pini’s give us two new titles.
Jink and The Rebels provide Elfquest fans with quite a few LGBT moments. The switch to human characters in these two future story lines is due to the mysterious disappearance of the elves. Readers of Jink issue 8 learn Belroyd Zuhn’s secret on page 8. He is shown in figure 12.
Thilar Parth Miomonde asks “…why do you ally yourself with him”? (Referring to the character Jerrod Anaken). Belroyd responds with “He is my friend”. Thilar asks “Does he know that you love him”? Belroyd is silent for a moment, then says “One’s private thoughts are supposed to be forbidden to another or was I taught incorrectly”? Thilar sates “It was not my talent but my intuition that told me… In any case, what does it matter? On almost of Abode, same gender love is accepted…” Belroyd cuts her off with “In most places, yes… but not all… not by everyone” (http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/digitalEQ.html). Unlike the elves, not all of the Abode’s human inhabitants have accepted non-hetero normative relationships. Though, sadly, they seem to be centuries ahead of their cousins on the ‘World of One Moon’, which we call Earth.
Scorch Chirell, from The Rebels, trying to bolster his friend Cosmo Luricahn’s failing spirits when it seems like Chandra Davenkee does not like him, says:
“…Cam Triompe says that if the object of your desire detests you, hope yet abides… only indifference is fatal to romance”. Cosmo replies “Of course, he was usually wooing boys”. Scorch merely says “Same principle…” (http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/index.php?s=RB/RB02&p=10). Cam Triompe is an historical figure much admired by Scorch. Cam is first seen in The Forever Green storyline (which is subject to the canon vs. non canon debate) (http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/digitalEQ.html).
Later in The Rebels, Cosmo and Chandra have a humorous encounter in issue #4 on page 6. Walking into a space station bar they are greeted by a male dancer wearing… well… it’s tough to explain, see figure 13.
The dancer says “Hi there gorgeous”. Cosmo defensively says “She’s with me”. The dancer replies “I was talking to you… you’re lovely”. Cosmo embarrassedly says “Oh…thanks” while Chandra covers her mouth as she laughs (http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/digitalEQ.html).
With all of that evidence, can there be anymore? Yes. Remember those two major players mentioned in Part 2? Dart is one of them. Yes Dart, the son of stoic Strongbow and lovely Moonshade. The New Blood series (also subject to the canon versus non canon debate) shows readers Dart’s life in the Sunvillage during the Wolfriders’ long sleep. The 7th page of issue 11 shows Yun telling Dart to let his “playmate [Shushen] fight his own battles” (http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/digitalEQ.html). The next page shows Dart with his hand on Shushen’s shoulder and the next panel shows Shushen holding Dart’s hand while it rests on his shoulder (http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/index.php?s=NB/NB11&p=8). Shushen’s death in issue 12 of New Blood, during the Go-Back invasion of the Sunvillage, drives Dart mad as “…something savage takes hold, leaving room for nothing save the sight, scent and pulse…of the prey!” (http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/index.php?s=NB/NB12&p=12 and http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/index.php?s=NB/NB12&p=13) Devastated, Dart goes into wrapstuff, (http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/index.php?s=NB/NB13&p=8). Despite being cocooned, Dart ‘Recognizes’ Serrin, who is already lovemated to Talmah (http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/index.php?s=NB/NB13&p=10), while page 12 of the same issue shows the trio after Bowki’s birth.
Serrin says “We have a son, Dart”. He replies with “Yes, we. Serrin, Talmah…and Dart”. Dart’s statement seems to imply that he, Serrin, and Talmah form a three bond. Given his past relationship with Shushen, is there a similar dynamic with his “Recognized’ mate, and Talmah? (http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/index.php?s=NB/NB13&p=12)
According to episode 3 of The Elfquest Show, Wendy allegedly confirmed that Dart and Shushen were a couple. Further we are also told in that same podcast, that Dart and Kimo are only friends, which should end any further fan speculation. Elfquest Show host ‘Thornbrake’ also mentioned in the same podcast, that the Pini’s have said every pairing possible [among the elves at least] has happened, they just have not been shown in the comics (https://soundcloud.com/theelfquestshow/eq-podcast-special-pt2). The primary reason being one of time and space. While many of us would love to see Wendy’s rendering of Redlance and Cutter having a ‘special moment alone’, or perhaps an expanded flashback to Leetah and Nightfall’s very sensual dance in Siege at Blue Mountain (http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/index.php?s=SABM/SABM01&p=17), it just is not possible if we the fans are to also see the main story unfold.
With regard to main story lines, the final major player with LGBT overtones is Mender the healer. Initially Mender and Ember (Cutter’s daughter) seemed completely fascinated with each other during much of the Hidden Years series. However in Final Quest we see a new side of him. Grumbling about Chitter [now called Freetouch] for delaying a berry picking trip, Mender finds her putting her brother Dart into his new leathers. (Final Quest, Issue 7). Freetouch’s response is to giggle and say:
“Sit tight Mender. I can’t leave Dart half-dressed). Mender says “hmmm…How about less than half”? With a shout Freetouch leaps on the healer “Wolf-hungry devourer of lovemates! You’d have us all running around bare as bagfrogs! And in any weather, just to please you”! As he falls backwards, Mender says he is delighted by that idea.
Does Mender have a thing for Dart? His comment about a less than half-dressed Dart points that way. Even if Mender prefers what the lads have (to paraphrase Skywise from “The Hearts Way”), it does not make him “gay” as we use the word.
At San Diego Comicon in 2012, Wendy spoke at the ‘Gays in Comics’ panel. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQDEmbYgzec) She explained that the elves of Elfquest don’t have labels like ‘gay’, straight’, ‘bi’ etc., even though there are elves who may be in relationships that humans would describe with those words. The elven culture(s) and language do not have those labels.
Ultimately the decision to prominently include (or not) a same sex couple in the Final Quest series, will be based on what Wendy and Richard feel best serves the story. Final Quest is “…about a life-changing dilemma that the wolf riders face at this point in their story” (http://www.geekadelphia.com/2014/01/29/an-interview-with-elfquests-wendy-and-richard-pini/).
Fan speculation will continue as long new Elfquest series loom on the horizon, regardless of the topic. Such is the way with fandoms. Will a same sex couple appear prominently in Final Quest? Will it be Dart/Mender who have already shown elements of LGBT behavior in the various Elfquest titles so far? Could it be Venka/Aroree, who so far have shown no indication of same sex interests? Only time and the Pini’s know.
As a longtime fan who is also gay, will I be disappointed if a same sex couple does not ‘come out’ as it were, in Final Quest? Yes; but only for a bit. As this article has shown Elfquest has always had LGBT friendly signs tucked into its pages. After 37 years some of those pages may or may not be considered canon. In response to fan queries about what is and what is not canon, Richard Pini responded via letter. In ‘The Thunder of Canon Fire’ dated 31 May, 2014 he said:
“Are there vagaries in the collected mass of Elfquest comics and prose that have appeared over 36 plus years? Yes. Does that bother us? Not really…” He went on to say that it may require retelling events from previous installments with a “different point of view – because the way those things got expressed back in the day simply can’t carry the same weight as the vision we have evolved for Final Quest”.
Whether or not every reader accepts every title of this long running epic saga of fantasy, elves, and inner personal truth is up to the individual. I admit there are some titles that raise my hackles, while others, even if they weren’t done by Wendy’s own hand, fit so smoothly into the fabric of Elfquest I accept them as a smaller truth within the greater, to follow Nightfall’s example (see figure 14).
The first issue I ever owned was #2 of the Marvel reprints. I was 12 years old, my family had just moved to the U.S. Southwest from the Northeast. Here was my life story unfolding before my eyes in a comic book. As I grew up and discovered my sexuality, Elfquest was right there, almost telling me everything would be alright.
Having read and loved Elfquest for over 30 years, I have learned a few things:
1- The Pini’s will always do what is best for the story (even if it might make the fans’ heads explode).
2- Controversial/sensitive subjects will always be handled in such a way as to do justice to the subject matter.
3- There are already plenty of LGBT characters, themes, storylines, and moments to make me feel welcome in the ‘World of Two Moons’. I hope that other LGBT fans of this amazing story will feel the same way.
With that, I bid you all clear skies and bright stars.