Elfworld Vol. 1
By François Vigneault, Jeffrey Brown, et al.
Twenty-two alternative comic creators banded together under the themes of Elfworld to create stories of fantasy, ridicule and derring-do. They boldly dabbled in a genre few of their peers have dared attempt. Ah, but hark unto the warning cries from those gnarled woods, my child. There are risks and advantages to each journey into the unknown.
The familiar art of Liz Prince, Martin Cendrea, K. Thor Jensen and Souther Salazar, among others, is a treat. It’s rare to see an anthology so slim busting with notable talent. Being familiar with many of the contributors’ work, I found it interesting to see how their art adapted to new costumes and environments atypical of their inherent styles and tastes.
A flip through Elfworld reveals an impressive variety of very unique, distinctive pages in black and white. Unfortunately, many of the stories fall flat. Epic plots and world-building are key to the craft of engaging fantasy material, but many of these stories were abrupt and felt unfinished. Elfworld seems experimental and not yet settled into its purpose or audience.
The title of the anthology clearly had a huge influence the contributors’ imaginations. Each story contributes to the greater land of Elfworld, which is mapped out on the first page. The map is a clever touch, but there are words on the back cover promising “a swords-and-sorcery anthology” that really only consistently delivers elves. Wizards, trolls, royal romancing, trebuchets, dwarves, and yes, even fairies appear to be missing from the Kingdom of Elfworld’s treasury of tales.
The realm of fantasy opens up so many doors that sadly go unexplored in this first volume of Elfworld. The book’s editor has hope though for the series and is a good face for the project. François Vigneault of the Family Style collective ambitiously took over Elfworld after Jeffrey Brown (whose idea it was and who compiled the content) dropped the book due to a busy schedule. Vigneault offered to take over publishing duties and did a remarkable job bringing everything together.
The cover is a thick cardstock with a nice, natural texture. Nothing about is glossy or cheaply made. Elfworld was made to last through many readings but at the same time looks like it has already, suspiciously, endured throughout the ages. It’s a nice size, the pages are sturdy, the endpapers are classy and it’s got a full-color wrap-around jacket design.
Elfworld does have some enjoyable moments and a few very good contributions like those from Jeffrey Brown, Dave McKenna and Kazimir Strzepek, among others. A concept like Elfworld (alternative comic artists making fantasy stories) is just so exciting that I know it can do better. Vigneault is currently accepting submissions for volume 2.