Jul 10, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 136: Elflord #1, 1986

I slagged off Aircel Publishing a couple of days ago when I was comparing them to Sirius Entertainment, so I figured it was only fair for me to read and review an Aircel comic. I do so sheepishly, because Elflord was actually pretty good. I can't claim any deep knowledge of comics in the fantasy genre, though it seems I've reviewed quite a few of them over the last month or two. There's always the problem of the world-build versus the story. With a comic set in contemporary times, you only have to do a little bit of world-building, just enough to demonstrate the differences between the reader's world and the character's world. Then you can jump right into the story. Not so with fantasy. A fantasy story is, by and large, set in an unfamiliar setting, and as such the world needs to be established so that the actions of the characters make sense within their narrative. This issue of Elflord, being the second series to bear this title, offers a text piece at the beginning of the comic that fills in some story details. I was still unclear as to why there seemed to only be elves in this world, the common trope being that elves exist in a fantasy world populated by many demihuman races (is demihuman racist?). This was compounded about halfway through the issue when a human pops into existence, claiming to have travelled from another world.

See what I mean about the world-building? Fantasy titles are the sorts of comics that benefit from the zero issue, in that one might offer a comic that lays out all the ground rules first, before the story proper begins.

Barry Blair's art is interesting. According to his Wikipedia page, later in his career he was considered somewhat controversial for the childlike nature of his characters that often coincided with nudity and erotic situations. I was struck in this particular comic with the androgynous nature of Windblade, an ostensibly-male young elven wizard whose depiction is very feminine throughout the story. While I've not investigated the matter fully, this obituary of Blair (who died in 2010) also makes reference to some of the controversy.

This all aside, Elflord was a pretty entertaining read. The questions I have about the world are enough to potentially bring me back to it, which is a nice little hook, and unlike a lot of indie fantasy comics from the same era (see my earlier Adventurers reviews), the dialogue is actually pretty smooth and well-rendered. I have a few more issues of this series in the collection, which I'll get to eventually, but tomorrow we start a 2-week theme of dollar bin comics. I've gone on about them at length, so I thought it was time to really delve into some of the treasures (and not-so-treasures) I've found in my journeys. See you then!

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