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Archive Binge: Elf and Warrior

G D Penman By G D Penman Published on September 4, 2017

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Elf and Warrior appears at the first glance to be another silly fantasy comic about the inherent farcical nature of many of the things that fantasy fans take for granted, sprinkled with some additional elements that were cynically selected by a creator looking to appeal to the millennial consumer, which is to say; it has pug-people. The art style certainly screams “comedy” at the top of its lungs, using the thick outline style of contemporary cartoons with a bright and beautiful colour palette that really helps to buoy the story along.

The comic’s sense of humour is possibly the least mean-spirited and cynical that I have ever come across in webcomics, relying on the flow of conversation and terrible puns mixed with the absurdities of the situation rather than punching down. There are plenty of comics out there that play off the silliness of epic fantasy conventions but there are very few that do so without insulting the fans of that genre. In Elf and Warrior there are jokes at the expense of the characters but they are perpetrated by the other characters rather than the writer, which seems like a very small distinction but it informs the whole work.

Despite its satirical goals, Elf and Warrior manages to provide a very solid story with a depth that seems unexpected given that some of the character’s goals are things like “stealing milk from a race of furious minotaurs so that a crime-lord can have it with his cookies.” There are wars between the races and star-crossed lovers, not to mention a whole heap of dark and mysterious pasts to go around.

The juxtaposition of the more serious elements of the story with the humour and silliness of the characters provides a great deal of both the humour and the drama in this comic. The adorable pug people combine constant dog jokes with very real emotional conflicts; including a harrowing portrayal of a realistic murder that is later ascribed to dark magic by the characters. On the other side of the same spectrum, there are genuinely heroic characters who happen to be pug-people and I find something incredibly endearing and funny about their stalwart bravery, particularly when they are being threatened with a “staff of fear,” also known as the business end of a broom.

The final thing that really drew me to Elf and Warrior is that the artist makes full use of the medium. Panels are laid out in a vertical strip with significant gaps of white space used in between them for pacing. When introducing a scene, we are often treated to a long scroll down from the sky to take in the surroundings and it is such a neat little trick that I am amazed I haven’t come across it in webcomics before. Nothing more experimental than that is undertaken but it is enough to set it aside from so many other comics which still behave as though they are constrained by an A4 page.

Elf and Warrior’s aesthetic and humour may not be a perfect fit for everyone but me it makes an excellent pallet cleanser after more serious, or more cruel fare.


G.D. Penman writes about queer monsters for a living. He is the author of Call Your Steel, The Year of the Knife, Heart of Winter, Apocrypha and many other books. He is also a full-time freelance ... Show More

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