LGBT Elves in Elfquest: Part 1
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According to David Mizejewski aka ‘Thornbrake’, one of the hosts of The Elfquest Show, in episode three of the podcast series Wendy Pini said a same sex couple would appear in the Final Quest (https://soundcloud.com/theelfquestshow/eq-podcast-special-pt2). I have, as yet, been unable to confirm if she did or did not say that. Whatever the truth may be, Elfquest fan forums have gone wild anticipating who it might be.
The top two couple candidates so far are Dart/Mender
Everyone seems excited; after all this will be a first for Elfquest, right? Well, not really.
Since its first appearance in 1978, Elfquest has continued and grown. New series came and went over the last 37 years; with multiple titles running concurrently during the 1990’s. That is a lot of material to sift through; but I did it. To make it easier on the reader, this article will look at the LGBT themes based on the characters involved, rather than the chronological order of title publication.
First and foremost is Cutter, Chief of the Wolfriders. The very first time readers get a hint that the elves view romantic/sexual relationships differently is on page 30 of issue #5 of the original black and white print of the original ‘Quest. Using her magical powers, Savah, the ‘Mother of Memory’, sends her image and words to the Sunvillager Rayek. He had recently lost the trial of ‘Head, Hand, and Heart’ to Cutter. Savah says: “Though it is not a common practice, others in the village have taken more than one mate. Is it unthinkable that you and Cutter and Leetah together might –?” To Rayek it is unthinkable, but only because he is ashamed of his defeat, not because he’s homophobic (http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/digitalEQ.html)
The next time readers see an LGBT ‘trace’ with Cutter comes in Hidden Years #9.5. The image on page 29 (see figure 3), so incredibly done by Wendy is not sexual, yet it does convey a level of intimacy between Cutter and Skywise, who has denned with his chief, Leetah and the children. It is a moment of peace, a family reunited. With that said, Skywise is holding Cutter’s hand, which is draped over his shoulder
Issue #24 of Hidden Years shows Redlance and Nightfall sharing their den with Cutter. The entirety of page 21 shows how Cutter is made part of their family, with the possibility of a physical dynamic to the bond (http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/digitalEQ.html).
“Troll Games and Soul Names”, an In All But Blood story, shows fans how Skywise and Cutter ‘Recognized’ each other. While ‘Recognition’ is the elves overwhelming urge to reproduce, it can happen without that urge between elves of the same sex, as seen in figure 4 (http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/index.php?s=IABB&p=42).
‘The Heart’s Way’, also part of the In All But Blood graphic novel, gives us Leetah’s perspective on Cutter and Skywise. When speaking with another Sunvillage maiden, Leetah admits on page 62 of the graphic novel, that her Recognized mate Cutter and his tribe mate Skywise “are more than friends, more than brothers” (http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/digitalEQ.html).
The Elfquest Show interviewed Wendy and Richard on 10 November, 2014. Regarding Final Quest, Wendy said:
“Well bottom line it’s a love story. It is the love story of Elfquest. You know, more than anything else Cutter and Skywise are the love story and uh, what I’m excited about is that Final Quest is going to give us a chance as we go along with it to uh, go deeper into that love story, than we ever have before. Because more is on the line now. Harder choices are coming” (https://soundcloud.com/theelfquestshow/episode-11-an-interview-with-wendy-and-richard-pini).
Taken together it would seem that Cutter and Skywise do have a physical relationship. However; Sunvillage maiden Vurdah says:
“Such love…between two of the same! Now that Leetah has all his attention…It is lonely for you, hmmm”? Skywise replies “…male wolves mount each other for sport, it’s true…but I prefer what maidens have…”! (http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/index.php?s=IABB&p=57).
Additionally, Elfquest colorist Sonny Strait told The Elfquest Show in episode 16 that Wendy herself told him Cutter and Skywise are ‘Recognized’, but like ‘brothers in all but blood’ (https://soundcloud.com/theelfquestshow/episode-16-an-interview-with-sonny-strait-1).
Love of course comes in many forms, so it is extremely possible that Cutter and Skywise have what could be described as the ultimate bro-mance (see figure 5). This of course has validity since Wendy said they are ‘brothers in all but blood’ and not a romantic couple.
Given Wendy’s statement about Cutter and Skywise, what do the Elfquest comics say about the stargazer?
In original ‘Quest issue 5, page 33 Skywise is shown with three maidens in the fourth panel. He is joined by 3 maidens in the now legendary orgy scene of issue 17 from the original ‘Quest. The Searcher and the Sword graphic novel, page 25, shows our stargazer once again, this time with 4 maidens. The majority of “The Heart’s Way”, from In All But Blood shows Skywise and his dalliances with Ruffel, Maleen, and Vurdah (http://elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/digitalEQ.html). It would seem what he told Vurdah holds true, although there does seem to be a lot of homoeroticism between him and Cutter. Based on the evidence and recorded statements from creator and artist Wendy Pini (a.k.a ‘Elfmom’) the relationship between Cutter and Skywise, while seeming to have latent homoeroticism, could just be an affectionate friendship freed of the constraints of homophobia that has placed humans in such a tiny uncomfortable box full of fear. Whether the wolf chief and the stargazer have a physically intimate dynamic or not, the comics themselves show LGBT readers that the elves are far more accepting of same sex love than their human counterparts on Earth.
Coming up in Part 2, two sets of three bonds in Elfquest involving some very well known and well loved characters.