ElfQuest is a series of comics, novels and other adaptations that has been being published since 1978. The original series was written by husband and wife team Richard and Wendy Pini, with other writers and artists continuing the series under their direction. At different times, it has been published independently, and by both Marvel and DC. While I have not read the entire extended ElfQuest corpus (a quite ambitious project at this point), I have read the original storyline, and will focus on that.
ElfQuest takes place in what would generally be called a High Fantasy setting, with some modifications. Elves, a long lived and nature-loving race, live in a constant state of low-level war with nearby humans. When the humans burn their forest, one tribe of elves, led by young chieftain Cutter, must flee for safety. In doing so, they find another tribe of elves, something they didn't know existed. With the possibility of other elf tribes scattered around the world, Cutter decides to go on a quest to find them, a quest that is hampered by trolls, humans and elves with different agendas than his own. The story has a lot of violence, but it also includes a portrayal of the elves' family and community life.
The story includes many expected elements in a high fantasy setting (lithe, forestwise elves who are great archers) as well as many original elements. That the elves ride, and are psychically bonded, with wolves is one of the first ones notable. As we meet more eleven tribes, each one serves as both an acknowledgement, and subversion, of high fantasy tropes. Likewise with the elves war with the trolls, and with the origin story of the elves, which is revealed at the end of the story.
The story, to me, is more interesting for historical reasons. In comic book publishing, I can't think of any high fantasy series that were published before ElfQuest. What fantasy was published was along the lines of the Conan the Barbarian series, which was an adaptation of older works, and which was also published by a major publisher. Storywise, it was an original idea to create an entire fantasy world and publish it independently. It was also artistically original: most art styles in any genre of comic book steered towards the realistic, with a palette of bright colors. The art in ElfQuest is unique, emphasizing the small, lithe nature of the elves, and also colored in a palette that seems more natural than was common in superhero comics. ElfQuest had an original art and story, and should be appreciated for its role in comics history.
ElfQuest can be viewed online at: