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Zadzi

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PostSubject: Halfway Mark Podcast   Thu Jan 14, 2016 12:39 am

This was just posted on the site:

"The Final Quest is steadily marching towards its ultimate conclusion.  The story has reached the halfway mark with issue #12 of the Final Quest. To commemorate this milestone, Ryan and David invited Wendy and Richard Pini back to the podcast to share their thoughts on the Final Quest and their experience creating it over these last few years.

This episode is filled with inside insight. You don’t want to miss it!  Listen to it here."

http://elfquest.com/listen-to-special-halfway-mark-episode-of-the-elfquest-show-podcast/
https://soundcloud.com/theelfquestshow/episode-22-an-interview-with-richard-and-wendy-pini-at-the-halfway-mark-of-the-final-quest

I didn't finish listening but I encourage people to listen since Wendy and Richard are talking. It's a lot of spiritual perspective here...granted, I'm not done hearing the whole thing but there's a lot of talk about Jung so far and the Anima. Wendy's been discussing how Timmain represents the Anima and how it tends to be rejected immediately at times... what do you think?
I think it's kind of weirding me out because I always kind of considered Leetah to an extent to be the anima to Cutter's animus....does this thing with Timmain sort of trivialize their bond/lifemating? Does it cheapen it on some level to actually spell it out ? I feel like the Jungian thing is being taken a bit *too* literally here...I just want it to flow in the story and it's beginning to feel like I'm getting a lesson on Jung...which I don't need.
What do you all think??

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Redhead Ember

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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Thu Jan 14, 2016 4:03 am

Well... getting an answer out of either of them - but especially Wendy - turned out to be somewhat difficult. Of course it was only the spoilerific questions she wouldn't answer, so I'm rather glad she didn't budge, despite David's and Ryan's repeated attempts.
She did, however, answer one thing... sorta. At one point she mentioned a quote from the old Ask Elfmom about the relationship between Cutter, Timmain, and Skywise. I went to look for it, found something which I posted on FB and asked if that was the spoken about quote, Wendy confirmed that it was indeed that.
Here it is:

Wendy wrote:
But here’s the real mystery: Her impressionistic thought patterns suggest an “always-ness” about her companionships with both Skywise and Cutter. When I think “Skywise” at her, she sends back, very lovingly, “Cutter.” When I think “Cutter,” she sends, with equal love, “Skywise.” Though Skywise is the one with the affinity for the stars, she doesn’t seem to perceive a difference between the two soul brothers - nor any separation between herself and them. And I’m not just talking woo-woo New Age oneness, here.

So... Timmain and Tam are the same. Or Timmain and Cutter are both Tam, not sure which one...
Tam and Fahr are "the same" through their quasi-Recognition.
Which means that they're all the same... or...
Great! Even Wendy's answers just provide more questions!
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Zadzi

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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Thu Jan 14, 2016 1:17 pm

Ha, Ember...I think wendy might be also figuring it out as she goes along. A lot of time that does happen with writing. We'll see.
I'm afraid I still haven't listened to the whole thing, I got dangerously sidetracked with some live zydeco music last night that I had to go see Very Happy

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Wisp

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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Thu Jan 14, 2016 2:18 pm

What an interesting interview.  I listened last night, and it clarified many of the feelings I've been wrestling with while reading FQ.

Still sorting out my thoughts, but it's clear to me now that FQ is a major genre departure from all preceding EQ stories in that it is primarily operating as an allegory.  Allegory isn't very popular in modern fiction.  In fact, I haven't thought about it much since I studied medieval literature in college.  The best way I can summarize the distinction between fiction and allegory is that in fiction, the message follows from the story, while in allegory, the message controls the story.

In the interests of full disclosure, I don't dislike the allegorical elements of FQ because I disagree with the ideas Wendy is trying to put across (and I say Wendy only, because it's pretty clearly her spiritual worldview at issue, not Richard's.)  A lot of what she says jives with my own spirituality.  So it isn't that I'm "not ready for her ideas" or "scared by the profundity of her concepts"--incidentally, I found it really condescending when W&R suggested that critics of FQ are either too threatened, too spiritually unprepared, or too close-minded to accept FQ into their hearts.  My problem is that I  dislike allegory as a style in almost all cases.  I don't want my fantasy literature to be a lecture on the nature of reality--and that is literally and admittedly what Wendy is doing in FQ.  

This is not to say that a good story has to be entertainment without a message.  In fact, I think authors and creators have a moral imperative to consider the message their work sends and to make sure it's consistent with their intentions and beliefs.  I took a lot of important, treasured lessons from EQ prior to FQ, but the reason I stuck around long enough to absorb them was that the comics functioned, first and foremost, as great stories.  Right now FQ is not a very good story IMO, because the message and symbols are stifling the story/characters.  Even the more interesting twists, like Cutter/Timmain soul-sharing, feel pretty schematic.  FQ Cutter is less a "real" person than a symbolic representation of "the animus" or "the fractured Self" or whatever Jungian terminology you want to throw at it.  That's a shame, because he represented the same thing a lot more gracefully back when he wasn't being manhandled by the storytelling.

Most of all, the interview gave me a strong sense of deja vu.  Anyone remember when Bill Moyers interviewed George Lucas when he was making the prequel trilogy?  Lucas was really into citing Joseph Campbell too.  He's was really explicit about the mythic dimensions of his story. And we all know how well that turned out...

A few other things that stuck out at me.  Totally agree that Wendy is a genius when it comes to character design.  You can absolutely recognize dozens of characters by silhouette alone, and that's a HUGE accomplishment.  Timmain is definitely not a villain.  Skywise definitely is going down a dangerous path when he tells Leetah that all elves must leave with the palace--the parallel to Rayek and Winnowill is not accidental.  Liked the discussion of Reef, and also a peek into Wendy's re-engineering of the Wavedancers as a whole--good stuff.  I think the concept of Recognition has gotten very murky.  It's one of the keystone elements of the EQ worldbuilding, and at this point even Wendy and Richard seem to have trouble putting their finger on what it encompasses.  Are Cutter and Skywise recognized or "recognized"?  What about Ember and Teir?  The whole concept is a bit of a mess at this point.
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Zadzi

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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Thu Jan 14, 2016 3:16 pm

Wisp - yes, agree with all you said. And yes, Moyers when interviewing Campbell in the Power Of Myth was speaking about the importance of mythology and Campbell cited Star Wars as pretty much the most modern myth we have, complete with archetypes and 'the hero's journey'.


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Wisp

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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Thu Jan 14, 2016 4:30 pm

The Moyers/Campbell Power of Myth series was pretty much my favorite thing for years when I was a kid. I agreed with Campbell when he used Star Wars as an example of ancient archetypes translated for a modern audience.

The interview I'm talking about was between Moyers and George Lucas himself in the wake of the Phantom Menace. The problem was that, by the time the prequels rolled around, Lucas had come to prioritize the mythic content of his story over the need to make a good movie qua movie. Lucas was really explicit about this in his interview with Moyers, in much the same way W&R talk about how FQ is an allegorical exploration of metaphysical questions and the hero's journey. Metaphysics is fine. Metaphysics can be interesting. But is the story any good? Does the reader still understand the characters? IMO that's where the prequel trilogy and FQ both run aground. Maybe it's just a reach-exceeding-their-grasp situation.
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sun girl

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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Thu Jan 14, 2016 7:16 pm

Zadzi wrote:
Wendy's been discussing how Timmain represents the Anima and how it tends to be rejected immediately at times... what do you think?

I think she's seriously oversimplifying Jung's concept of anima and animus.
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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Fri Jan 15, 2016 2:27 am

Elfquest has always taught me good lessons, like, accepting life and death, love lasting beyond separation, redemption is always possible.

Now, it's teaching me there are only so many ret-cons, rewrites, and outright lies I can accept from a childhood favourite before I give up and start in on the haterade.
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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Fri Jan 15, 2016 3:36 am

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Redhead Ember

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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Fri Jan 15, 2016 4:01 am

Retcons? Where?
Sorry, I haven't noticed any. Other than the one with 'Crazy Dodia in the cave.' But that of course was itself a retcon of the scene at the end of Shards showing her in the Palace. I'd consider Shards to be ranked a bit higher canonically than Fire-Eye.


sun girl wrote:
Zadzi wrote:
Wendy's been discussing how Timmain represents the Anima and how it tends to be rejected immediately at times... what do you think?

I think she's seriously oversimplifying Jung's concept of anima and animus.

They didn't really have to time to go into depths about the concept. They already by far went beyond the alloted time of about an hour.

Wisp wrote:
But is the story any good? Does the reader still understand the characters?

Yes. Yes.

Cutter Smile
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Wisp

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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Fri Jan 15, 2016 12:03 pm

sungirl wrote:

   
Zadzi wrote:
Wendy's been discussing how Timmain represents the Anima and how it tends to be rejected immediately at times... what do you think?


I think she's seriously oversimplifying Jung's concept of anima and animus.

lol!

Honestly, I found Wendy very endearing.  She comes off like an ex-hippie aunt who had one too many glasses of pinot at a cocktail party and wants to talk to everyone about whether their chakras are properly aligned.  She's definitely got a true creative spirit, but when it comes to actual psychology...I think she just got the cliff's notes version.  It's all very sweet, honestly.

Redhead Ember wrote:
Yes. Yes.

Cutter Smile

You are like a ray of sunshine falling on my dark and shriveled soul.  "Down in Whoville they say that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day."  Bless.
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sun girl

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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Fri Jan 15, 2016 3:05 pm

Redhead Ember wrote:

sun girl wrote:

I think she's seriously oversimplifying Jung's concept of anima and animus.

They didn't really have to time to go into depths about the concept. They already by far went beyond the alloted time of about an hour.

I don't mean she was oversimplifying it in the podcast, I mean she's oversimplifying it in the comic.
If Timmain represents Cutter's anima (I think it'd be much more accurate to say Cutter literally embodies Timmain's animus, but that's splitting hairs), then to me she's a very superficial example of one.

wingthing wrote:

LOL for days Very Happy
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Zadzi

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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Fri Jan 15, 2016 4:08 pm

It is an oversimplification in the comic, yes, and while I am even actually (mostly) in agreement with Wendy's outlook spiritually, I also feel there's an oddly exhibitionist quality to the writing of FQ now. It's a weird "These are my spiritual views, my entire comic and writing will now echo these views in a very exacting way", etc... Oddly enough, I felt her writing before *always* reflected that to an extent. One of the reasons the writing of EQ was always so charming was because you had this spiritual theme constantly running in the background, and it was never so heavy-handed even when it was in the forefront, unlike now, when it's starting to to border on stiflingly instructional in its tone. It's getting in the way of the story itself, eating away at the narrative, when before, it was just natural and so unselfconscious.

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Zadzi

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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Fri Jan 15, 2016 4:14 pm

sun girl wrote:

If Timmain represents Cutter's anima (I think it'd be much more accurate to say Cutter literally embodies Timmain's animus, but that's splitting hairs), then to me she's a very superficial example of one.


I don't think that's splitting hairs at all, I find that statement quite accurate actually.
And the reason it's coming off as superficial is because if that's what Timmain has been all along, it's an ongoing (universal) theme that's been running through this story like a current. So yes, maybe Timmain represents a universal elf-y anima, but the problem is turning her into Cutter's *individual* anima. That's personalizing a very impersonal, archetypal theme, and it's sort of making us see that Timmain isn't very fleshed out as a character....but then she was really never meant to be fleshed out , because her role was fine when it was more ethereal. Focus the lens on her more to personify a universal theme and you have to make your readers try relate on a personal level, and Timmain was never meant to really be related to *at all*....not beyond archetype.  That's sort of why this dynamic isn't working character-wise, imo

I don't know if that makes sense.


Also, I kept wanting to write 'Cutter's personal enema' .

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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Fri Jan 15, 2016 4:39 pm

I agree Zadzi, Timmain works much better as a vague, general anima of ALL the elves than she does of Cutter specifically. Because she doesn't represent many of the aspects of the anima in her relationship with Cutter. For example, she is only the "Eve" anima to Skywise, not to Cutter or anyone else at all. Nor has Cutter's ability to relate to female individuals ever been molded or hampered by his relationship to Timmain. My brain is really doing acrobatics trying to make this work with what I know about Jungian archetypes.
I'm pretty convinced now, in light of this, that Rayek and Winnowill are meant to be the Self and Shadow. And if so they are (again) a very superficial reading of that concept.
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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Fri Jan 15, 2016 7:13 pm

Wisp wrote:
Honestly, I found Wendy very endearing.  She comes off like an ex-hippie aunt who had one too many glasses of pinot at a cocktail party and wants to talk to everyone about whether their chakras are properly aligned.

Yes! I really enjoyed that podcast. Made a long day of work far more fun, listening to them.

And I agree with most of what everyone is saying here, especially what Wisp says about allegory. Thank you for putting it into words. It's a problem I've had when doing my own stories, trying (and failing) not to let the message/spiritual/psychological thingy overcome the story. Not easy.

And I think I'll be able to enjoy the rest of the EQ adventure despite being annoyed by a lot of stuff. I'm annoyed in a not-angry, sympathetic, happy sort of way.

And I think I don't have enough free time and free brain to think beyond that Sleep
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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Sat Jan 16, 2016 10:06 am

I haven't listened to the podcast yet- but after reading these comments, I can say one thing. If Wendy and Richard think that the reason people are critiquing their story is due to an inability to accept or understand jungian archetypes, Joseph Campbell's ideas about heroes and myths, or Wendy's own spirituality, they are wrong. Most educated people are familiar with these things. The concepts aren't that difficult or even that out there. The Pinis aren't the first people to come up with these things. What's being critiqued isn't what they are saying-- but how they are saying it.

None of this, so far, has been subtle or gracefully presented. To me, at least, it feels as if the story is hitting me over the head with these ideas like a mallet. That's so awkward. Elfquest never used to do that. It used to prioritized character and plot-- because it's, you know, a story-- and communicate ideas through the actions and words of the characters, along with the consequences of said words and actions (also known as storyline). It didn't lecture at the reader or dictate. Doing that isn't making the story more spiritual and sophisticated-- it's just dumbing things down. It just puts the story on the level of a morality play. And it's clunky.

And yeah-- to assume that anyone who criticizes your comic just isn't evolved enough to "get it" is really condescending, hubristic and willfully blind. To say "if you don't like it- why are you here?" (which I've heard a few times) is pretty silly too. The obvious comeback to that is- if you don't want a reaction, why are you publishing? And if you don't want feedback, why are you reading this? But all of that is just circular- because it's a way to cut off conversation, and only hear what you want to hear, see what you want to see. Or throw your hands up over your eyes and ears like the monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil.

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Wisp

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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Sat Jan 16, 2016 5:26 pm

For the sake of fairness, I wouldn’t want to give the wrong impression to folks who haven’t listened to the interview. I don't think they expect the reader to know anything about Jung or Campbell, probably because they don't seem to know much about it themselves. They didn't go on and on about why some people aren't responding to the story, but to me there was a subtext that came across as condescending. I quickly found these examples, just to give a sense of the flavor:
Wendy: “There are a lot of people who are pretty frustrated with us because we’re not comforting them the way that we used to with the story, and we’re well aware of that. We’re in a phase of the story, when you go through the darkest hour and go through the hero’s journey, it’s not meant to be a comforting experience.”

Wendy: “Even people who have a negative reaction are being reached on some level. It took me a while to learn this. Sometimes people have a negative reaction because you’re really getting to them, and they don’t like it, and they need time to process it.”

I do have sympathy for them. They’ve been doing this a long time, and they’ve always faced criticism. They must have developed different coping strategies, and this attitude is probably one of them. The work is obviously close to their hearts, and it’s also their primary livelihood. Wendy talks about "feeling" characters around her as she draws them. I think she's trying very hard to do what she thinks is best, and maybe that's part of the problem—she managed to convey many meaningful concepts years ago, when she wasn’t trying so hard to make a specific point. She has a prodigious artistic talent, but I just don’t think she (or Richard) are as intellectual as they thinks they are—and that’s ok! They don't need to be to write a incredibly successful, influential series.

I still think the interview is worth listening to. There were some great exchanges. For example, Wendy acknowledges that Dre-Anh has incredible “resting bitch-face.” LOL!
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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Sat Jan 16, 2016 7:20 pm

I'm glad Wendy is learning to come to terms with the fact that there are negative reactions to Final Quest. It's a little irritating that she has to do it by putting words in critics' mouths instead of responding to the actual reasons they've given for being frustrated. As Wisp said, this seems quite condescending.
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PostSubject: Re: Halfway Mark Podcast   Sun Jan 17, 2016 3:09 pm

I think Wisp pretty much nailed it

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