Wendy and Richard Pini’s ElfQuest was one of the formative works of fiction from my youth. I was drawn in by the fantastic art and epic adventure contained in the Marvel back issues I first encountered but stayed for the rich storytelling and challenging relationship forms. Years later I still appreciate it as one of the best crafted series of comics I’ve read.

Elfquest was first published in 1978 and was one of the first big successes in independent comics publishing. Over the years more than 6500 pages of the comic have been published in a variety of formats through several different publishers, including both Wendy and Richard’s own WARP Graphics, Marvel and DC.

When I was a teenager I collected ElfQuest comics, short story collections and novelizations at every chance I had. By that time there was a huge number of releases from the series and I devoured them. I had hundreds of issues by the time I finished high school and have continued to read each new release that Wendy and Richard have released.

ElfQuest was the first place I encountered both pansexuality and polyamoury —though neither were named as such and I didn’t yet have any notion of the terms. Exposure to both terms helped to shape my understanding of both sexuality and relationships over time. In a very strong way, I feel I owe a great debt to the kindness and expansiveness that Wendy and Richard imbued into their stories.

Every page of the comic can be read online at Digital EQ Online Comics, and I recommend reading The Original Quest as a starting point. For the past 5 months, a page of a prelude to the final ElfQuest story has been published each week at Boing Boing and the art is as beautiful as it ever has been. Finally, after many attempts at making an ElfQuest film, creators of a fan short based on the comics have been granted the rights to produce a film, and that may go into production in the next few years. As a preview, watch ElfQuest: A Fan Imagining.

Pirate Cinema

Cory Doctorow has long had a great sense of how to make things happening in the present work as exciting elements of near-future science fiction plots, whether it was 3D printing in Makers or virtual economies in For the Win. With Pirate Cinema he took on unethical copyright law, remix culture, piracy and pirate cinemas and created one of his most gripping and convincing novels.

The most important part of Pirate Cinema to me was the effective and sympathetic defence against draconian copyright laws. Cory depicts, in a very accessible way, how harmful strong copyright laws are to everyday people. When families can have every aspect of their lives negatively impacted by the mere accusation of breaking copyright, laws are not in the interest of the people they are intended to serve, and this story illustrates that masterfully.

Beyond the capable arguments for political stances, it’s a thrilling read that is in a league above much of what is marketed as young adult fiction. The characters are some of Cory’s most diverse and well rendered while the plot moves quickly and carries a lot of momentum up to the final pages. It’s a superb marriage of conviction and execution.

Pirate Cinema can be purchased in paper and ebook formats or as an audiobook. Like all of the other books Cory has published, it is available as a free ebook download.

Trent McCauley is sixteen, brilliant, and obsessed with one thing: making movies on his computer by reassembling footage from popular films he downloads from the net. In the dystopian near-future Britain where Trent is growing up, this is more illegal than ever; the punishment for being caught three times is that your entire household’s access to the internet is cut off for a year, with no appeal.

Trent’s too clever for that too happen. Except it does, and it nearly destroys his family. Shamed and shattered, Trent runs away to London, where he slowly he learns the ways of staying alive on the streets. This brings him in touch with a demimonde of artists and activists who are trying to fight a new bill that will criminalize even more harmless internet creativity, making felons of millions of British citizens at a stroke.

Things look bad. Parliament is in power of a few wealthy media conglomerates. But the powers-that-be haven’t entirely reckoned with the power of a gripping movie to change people’s minds….

Zen Noir

This weekend I finally sat down to watch Zen Noir and I enjoyed it tremendously. In a nutshell, it’s an absurd mystery set in a Zen temple. The film pokes fun at Zen and film noir conventions and features an abnormal amount of oranges. It has a fun mix of slapstick, in-joke and just plain strange humour, but the cinematography is superbly beautiful; the juxtaposition enriches the film and makes it a remarkable experience.

If David Lynch, the Buddha and Woody Allen took acid and made a surrealist mystery, this would be it! ZEN NOIR is a hilarious award-winning independent film that explores buddhism, meditation, life, death & spiritual enlightenment.
~Zen Noir