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Elfworld, Vol. 1
posted June 7, 2007
 

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Creators: Jeffrey Brown, Martin Cendreda, Dalton Sharp, Matt Wiegle, Grant Reynolds, Ron Rege Jr., Souther Salazar, Erik Nebel, Jesse Reklaw, Francois Vigneault, Jason Turner, Jody Turner, Dave McKenna, Ansis Purins, Liz Prince, Sean Collins, Jason Overby, K. Thor Jensen, Kazimir Strzepek
Publishing Information: Family Style, soft cover, 128 pages, April 2007, $12.95
Ordering Numbers: 9780979417801 (ISBN13)

imageAn anthology of straight-ahead fantasy stories by small press and indy talents, Elfworld thwarts expectations. Typically these books feature one or maybe even two jaw-droppers, one more dependable to solid effort, and then a run of disasters from people who didn't get the concept or couldn't be bothered to turn in accomplished work. Elfworld, for its part, is almost ruthlessly cohesive. While there's no one must-have short story within its pages, there are a number of solid shorts, among them one-pagers by Matt Wiegle (please someone give him a solo comic) and his longer, viscerally satisfying adventure story collaboration with Sean Collins "Destructor Comes to Croc Town"; funny and diverting stories from Kazimir Strzepek and K. Thor Jensen, a lovely two-pager by Jeffrey Brown, and fable-like stories from folks like Dalton Sharp that are modest but surprisingly satisfying. The book also features colorful art direction that sits smartly between being reminiscent of one's old Arduin Grimoire, with the maps and incidental drawing and classic guidebook size, but managing to avoid that sad, desperate lurch into full-time fetish object.

imageUnfortunately, because it fails to offer one or two superior pieces, the individual reader's appetite for Elfworld likely depends on that person's enthusiasm about such material in the first place. Not only isn't there an artistic achievement that will demand asses be put into seats, the book sabotages a common expectation some might have for this group of artists working on this kind of material. It's not difficult to grasp the notion that a serious treatment of this material may be more interesting than a dozen parodies and multiple inter-species rape jokes, but I'm certain someone out there will be disappointed there isn't more of it in Elfworld, or, really, any at all. There may also be more routine disappointments in the length of stories and the number of artists whose absence is not just noteworthy but felt. A bigger story from Jeffrey Brown would have been extremely welcome. Two of the most consistently excellent young cartoonists, Andrice Arp and Eleanor Davis, do a lot of their work in fantasy, so I sort of expected to see one or both, the same way I expected to see Kaz Strzepek and got him. Something for future issues, I guess. In the end, this is a group of fine stories that will fade from memory the moment the last page is read -- like a lot of work in its genre of interest.

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