Elf

From CerebusWiki

Jump to: navigation, search
Elf From issue #60. Art by Dave Sim
Enlarge
Elf From issue #60. Art by Dave Sim

Appears in issues 29-32, 39, 41-42, 58 - 60, 155-156, 161, 167, 171.

Cameos/mentions in issues 33, 78, 89, 157, 162, 218, 272, 300.

The Regency Elf is a glowing, incorporeal Elf who acts as Cerebus's confidant when he stays in the Ambassador Suite at the Regency Hotel. At first there is some doubt about whether she actually exists, since nobody besides Cerebus can see her. On the other hand, she tells Cerebus things that he couldn't possibly know, so she is not entirely a creation of his subconscious. She is mercurial, quickly offended but equally quick to forgive.

Contents

Other Elves

Over the course of the series other "fake" elves appear, such as a "fake fake Elf" that turns into a Big Round Glowing White Strange Thing (Issue 70), and a twin of the Regency Elf that seems to know everything she knows (Issue 155).

Creation of the Elf

In Issue 160 it is revealed that the Elf that Cerebus knows is a subconscious creation of Cerebus while he was in the Eighth Sphere in Issue 28, influenced by the presence of the real Regency Elf, who was confined to the Ambassador Suite.

Real Elf

According to Issue 166, the real Regency Elf (who is never shown) apparently has slanty eyes and pointed ears and cannot leave the Suite.

Traits and Skills

She has quite a taste for whiskey. She likes to play wickets (croquet) with Cerebus.

Her memory extends back at least 800 years (29, p.4), which was when she previously saw an aardvark.

The Regency Elf is implied to have been an aspect of Suenteus Po the First (156, pgs.5, 8, 19).

Dave Speaks about the Elf

Issue 42 Aardvark Comment

In the letters column to issue 42, in response to the question "What was the Regency Elf before the Regency Hotel came along?" Dave replied "She was one of the Wood Elves in Iest." Cerebus mentions a "wood faerie" in issue 14 (p.16), but the context makes it difficult to tell if he is referring to a mythical creature or not.

Comic Fandom's Forum #9, Nov 1982

"The Regency Elf started off as the Regency Hermit, and old guy with a long beard that just hung around in the walls and would just come bursting into people's rooms. But there was a quality to it that wasn't going to work, because the reason I want to introduce the character was so Cerebus would have somebody to talk to - the same reason they introduced Jimmy Olsen into Superman. Because they were on the radio, and he had to have somebody to talk to.."

From Dave's Notes on the auction for page 96 of High Society (which is in issue 30):

"...The problem was finding some way to communicate the depths of Cerebus’ confusion. Since he implicitly wouldn’t trust anyone, I needed to invent a confidant for him. There was no way to get another barbarian into the hotel, so that left only the fantasy aspect. Someone just as fantastic as himself would have to be introduced. A Regency…Ghost or a Regency Something-Like-a-Ghost. And that was when I thought, Why not a Regency Elf? Cerebus’ situation in the Regency was not altogether dissimilar to my own in the comic-book field—-a kind of wild card, joker in the deck that didn’t fit anywhere. And there was someone else I saw as being in much the same situation: Wendy Pini. Of course, that wasn’t the case. The major dissimilarity being that Elfquest was a runaway hit and Cerebus was just a wild card, just a joker in the deck. Elfquest was charming and beloved and Cerebus was vulgar and weird. The fact that the two were usually mentioned together was more of an albatross around the Pinis’ necks than evidence of any sort of popularity on Cerebus’ part. I remained blithely ignorant of this for years. As I developed the Regency Elf she also, very quickly, didn’t fit the elf profile of which the Pini elves were the latest incarnation. Visualizing the Regency Elf, I struck an image which I had filed away in my mind for future reference which I had seen in an underground title called Dr. Wirtham’s Comix & Stories. I forget the name of the artist/editor/and possibly publisher, but he had had a panel in one of his issues of, well, basically, the Regency Elf, which captured the Disney-style glow-in-the-dark Tinkerbelle look, but entirely in black-and-white.

(Of course Tinkerbelle was a faerie, not an elf. Elves, faeries, sprites, what’s the difference? Not hard to see why I’ve always been unwelcome in the world of High Fantasy.)

I had just been flipping through an issue and hit that page and I thought, Wow. That really works. How did he do that? And looking more closely, I saw that it was pretty basic, consisting of thin hatched lines in all the areas where a shadow would be cast and no outline or defining line apart from that. And then the external glow rendered entirely in white dot pointillism: blacked in roughly in the shape of the interior figure and then just blob-blob-blobed with white paint to soften and sparkle the edge. Of course, multiply those three "blobs" times about a few hundred. On this page, you can see that I was already getting sort of careless with my blob-blob-blobs. I’m pretty sure I had abandoned white paint by this point (which I had to keep watering down to keep it thin enough to transfer from the tip of the brush to the page and then mixing in more paint to keep it white enough to reproduce photographically. If it was too thin, it would just make a small blue pool instead of a white dot) and had gone to using Liquid Paper, those little bottles of white-out people used on typewritten pages back when the earth was still cooling. It made a less circular blob, but it made a more consistently white blob and I could get a good ten or fifteen blobs off of the applicator before I had to put it back in the bottle and shake it up. I could only get two or three blobs off the end of a paint brush and every twenty blobs or so, I had to remix the paint. On a monthly schedule these are the things you base a lot of your choices on. Early on, here in the Liquid Paper switchover I was doing little stars with white paint (there are four of them here on the left side of the Elf). This was my attempt at misdirection so no one would notice how un-circular the blobs had gotten. I abandoned it pretty quickly. Either you would believe in Tinkerbelle or you wouldn’t, I decided. Blobs is blobs. I also didn’t realize it at the time but the thin line hatching I was doing in the shadowed areas was far too dark to really create the effect I was trying to create. The whole point is that you can go super-super light with the lines because they’re on a pure white backdrop—-you never have to worry about them showing up because even the thinnest line shows up against pure white. The Regency Elf was in the book for years before I got the lines thin enough to really make her look as if she was glowing. It was always hard to explain to people at conventions that I couldn’t do a sketch of the Regency Elf because I lacked the materials. There are probably fewer than a dozen such sketches in existence, as a result.

I was really pushing the envelope of how much solid black you could use on a page with the inexplicably pitch dark Ambassador Suite. It was only once I had Cerebus inside the Regency that I remembered my initial motivation to choose to do a barbarian funny animal in the world of humans instead of a science-fiction funny animal in the world of humans: no straight geometrically precise edges. As you can see from the first two panels, I was no threat to Winsor McKay when it came to faking geometric precision (which he did a lot of in Little Nemo). The carpet is a chaotic mass of donut shapes which are supposed to be precise interlocking rows of donut shapes receding into a precise vanishing point. Not! I rather cleverly (I thought at the time) switched from using a 30% Letratone on Cerebus in the first two panels to using a 40% when he enters the stygian Ambassador Suite. Of course, this gave his eyes a kind of "switched-on headlight" quality. I mulled it over for a few years and the next time I did it, I used a 10% tone on his eyes in that situation which, in addition to be mathematically precise, actually looked right as well. The look of the Regency Elf was my shameless peroxide tribute to Blondie lead singer Deborah Harry whom I adored at the time with a passion that surpasseth human understanding. A condition dramatically worsened by the acquiring of our first VCR (Beta, which I was assured was the format of the future) and a commercial tape which collected all the videos from the Eat to the Beat album (at a time when commercial videotapes retailed for around $90 each). "Dreaming" "Eat to the Beat" "In the Flesh". I thought I had died and gone to heaven. A few years later, when Richard and Wendy were negotiating with Toronto’s Nelvana Productions to do the Elfquest animated film, Nelvana was in the middle of producing their big debut full-length animated film, Rock and Rule—-which would prove to be as lousy as its title and take them out of the full-length animated film game permanently. Anyway, lo and behold, one of the characters in Rock and Rule was voiced by Debbie Harry, who just happened to be at Nelvana on a day when Wendy was there and they met. And sometime later, Wendy is dropping this casually into the conversation over the phone.

My mouth went dry and my heart started pounding. "You met Debbie Harry?"

"Oh, yes," she snorted. "What an awful woman. She is completely anti-art."

I just let it go and we moved on to other subjects. And I always wondered what she meant by that: "anti-art".

But what a weird footnote to the creation of the Regency Elf."

Dave's Q&A From Feb / March 2005

Q1. Cerebus dreams and speaks with the Regency Elf who states that the "real" Regency elf has dark hair, pointy ears, and can't leave the Regency Hotel. Is it safe to assume, therefore, that our Elf is a "fake" Elf, and the duplicate Elf of Flight was a fake "fake" Elf?

DAVE: It would depend, I guess on what you think of elves in general. My own supposition, to quote Neil Gaiman, is "there’s something there." Just as the Church in the upper city is ancient, so is the Regency Hotel at the upper city’s opposite end. What was there before and to what extent does whatever-it-is still inhabit the grounds and the building? At the same time it is interesting that, while elves—-little people-—are a universal construct, I can’t remember hearing of elves haunting a building in the way that ghosts are said to do. The omission seems significant to me—-a universal construct and no record of any of them ever appearing indoors. If they really are just quirks in people’s minds, presumably they would be seen everywhere that people and their minds are found. Not only are they never seen indoors, but when was the last time you heard of an “elf sighting”? I tried to convey the impression that the Regency Elf was more on the order of something like the Loch Ness Monster—-a specific beastie in a specific locale that is, if not widely accepted, at least more widely accepted than generally mythologized creatures. I would suspect that more people believe in the Loch Ness Monster than believe in the existence-—generally-—of mythological creatures.

Of course it also needs to be born in mind that this was a dream and that dreams in a conventional sense usually don’t mean much of anything. They’re just sensible enough to be interesting but not sensible enough to be the basis of decision-making.

Q1 Con't: Additionally, the Elf says that she was created as a result of Cerebus and Po's FIRST Mind Game, even though it was Cerebus' second--can this contradiction be reconciled by seeing it as the first, from the Elf’s own perspective?

DAVE: Well, this becomes a core problem when you move into the realm of fantastic constructs. You’re trying to apply conventional forms of reason to what an elf is telling you. But, what the heck, I’m game. Who is to say that the fake elf wasn’t created as a result of the first Mind Game which took place a period of time before Cerebus arrived at the Regency? Either she was extruded from Cerebus and inhabited him and only needed a context in which to manifest—-which she found in the Ambassador Suite—-or she manifested up ahead in Cerebus’ life and was basically just waiting for him to “catch up” to the point in his life where—-and when-—she has incarnated/will incarnate.

Personal tools