Monday, 18 July 2016

Elfguest

Elfguest
by Dave Sim
(Originally published in Cerebus #52, July 1983)

DENI LOUBERT:
(from Note From The Publisher, Cerebus #52, July 1983)
You will probably notice something quite different about this issue, namely that there are three short stories in it. Dave had been thinking of doing this for a while, but the opportunity was never there before. One of these stories, Elfguest, is a special one to Dave and I. Richard and Wendy have accomplished with Elfquest a very unique kind of success. Even though we keep in touch as much as possible, it's not always easy to find a way to show our applause for both the books and the creators behind it. The only natural thing to do for a writer/artist (with an acute sense of humour) was to do this story. It was to appear in an anthology title we were planning to do with Gene Day, and, after his death, we quietly put it aside until the right moment. The decision to do an issue of short stories made it possible to finally print Elfguest.

15 comments:

Anthony Kuchar said...

Fun! One of my favorite of the Cerebus crossovers. This and the TMNT one.

Michael Grabowski said...

Thanks for posting this gem. I have the original comic stored in a longbox in my garage so its absence from any of my handier collections keeps it much missed.

Tim, can you please post any relevant past commentary Dave has made about this story?

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Not sure I have much to add. Perhaps Dave could post some details here. I've always been curious as to why he did this strip and how in ended up in Cerebus #52' where it didn't seem to fit.

Dave Kopperman said...

If I had to guess, I'd say it was conceived and mostly drawn a couple of years earlier - Dave's drawing and lettering style seems to be more from the issue 20 to issue 30 range. The fact that the first page was done with the leftover duotone board also dates it a bit (the duotone issue was 12 or 13, right?). I'd bet he kind of worked on it in a couple of fits and starts and then printed it when it was done.

Tony Dunlop said...

My copy of #52 is also tucked away in a longbox (in my basement), but I recall Dave giving at least some details about the origin of this strip. Maybe Carson can find it in his digital-form issue...?

Dave Kopperman said...

On closer inspection, I wonder if the tonal work on the first page IS duotone? The reproduction is so lousy it makes it difficult to tell, but it looks like the tones are a bit different than what the duotone board had. Maybe markers or ink wash?

Michael Hoskin said...

Guys, you just have to check 52's note from the publisher: "You will probably notice something quite different about this issue, namely that there are three short stories in it. Dave had been thinking of doing this for a while, but the opportunity was never there before. One of these stories, Elfguest, is a special one to Dave and I. Richard and Wendy have accomplished with Elfquest a very unique kind of success. Even though we keep in touch as much as possible, it's not always easy to find a way to show our applause for both the books and the creators behind it. The only natural thing to do for a writer/artist (with an acute sense of humour) was to do this story. It was to appear in an anthology title we were planning to do with Gene Day, and, after his death, we quietly put it aside until the right moment. The decision to do an issue of short stories made it possible to finally print Elfguest."

Tony again said...

Thanks, Michael. I stand corrected; it was Deni, not Dave.

Dave Sim said...


It's definitely duo-shade art paper on page one. Just not done very well. You need to have an exact balance of how much developer fluid you put on the paper and how you blot it up. I figured since I was only doing foliage it wouldn't make a great deal of difference. But it does. Part of it is stinginess. It was very expensive paper so I wanted to use each sheet for finished work. But you can't really do that. What you need to do is to consciously do samples of different amounts of fluid and different ways of blotting up the excess. Then you have to get it photographed by the same camera that's shooting the book and print the samples on the same paper the book is being printed on. It would have been a good idea to do some quick little drawings and run them on the letters page month after month until I got some pieces that reproduced well. Instead I just dove in and did issue 12 Really Really Badly.

It was always a balancing act: doing the only book that was on schedule and having a limited amount of time to do it.

As to the story itself, Wendy and Richard were definitely NOT amused. But, then, I never remember Wendy and Richard being amused about anything. Really, I would have to say that the only person in the cross-overs section who actually liked CEREBUS was -- and is -- Kevin Eastman. Richard and Wendy and Pete Laird and Todd McFarlane were -- in the BARELY GRUDGING TOLERANCE end of things and were -- pretty quickly -- and now are in the "Dave Who?" end of things.

Dave Kopperman said...

Dave: Yeah, Cerebus always seemed to be an odd fit with critics and many cartoonists, which is a terrible shame since it's the kind of book they'd largely been evangelizing for.

Am I remotely correct in my assessment that the story was drawn or at least started a couple of years prior to its publication in #52?

Dave Kopperman said...

Oh, and for the record, I always thought the duotone on issue 12 was just beautiful.

JLH said...

Dave Kopperman,

All of the known info about the creation of "Elfguest" can be found on this archived post from the sadly-defunct Cerebus wiki: https://web.archive.org/web/20120302215625/http://www.cereb.us/wiki/index.php?title=Elfguest

Dave Kopperman said...

Aha! Thanks.

Damn, I'm good:

"This story was first announced in the Aardvark Comment for issue 12 ... The first page was previewed in the Aardvark Comment for issue 16"

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

The Cerebuswiki lives! Not sure how that works exactly, but great news!

Thanks to Michael for the pointer to Deni's comments. Main post updated for those that don't read 'comments' section.

Will Collier said...

#52 was my first issue. "ElfGuest" actually helped get me interested, as I was (at about 14) a big ElfQuest fan at the time. i doubt very much I could get through an issue today, though.

Of course, it was the waiter fart joke in "Writing" that actually hooked me. Wonder what my reaction would have been if you'd told me then the series would end 21 years later with another fart joke...?