Feel free to ask any questions you have about the comic, and I’ll do my best to answer ’em! Always happy to receive questions: I love to talk about my work!
Q: Which country is this taking place in? (By Captain.Cat)
A: Although I’ve never really mentioned or intended any specific country, I work off the general principle that Elf Blood takes place somewhere in the North East of the United States. Much of the design of the parts of the city you do see, however, are drawn from both Hong Kong and Glasgow, since I had ready access to reference material from both, so the designs don’t actually mesh all that well with the idea that it takes place in the North East US. You gotta work with whatcha got!
Q: Have the Council ever worked along side human forces in any past operations? (By Captain.Cat)
A: Yes, the Council is actually integrated into the government forces as a battallion, albeit one that very few people know of. Since the rediscovery of the magical races by humans in the 18th century, they have served specialised roles in warfare and public order. The government has a joint command force called the Occult Command directive, combining Special Forces operators, Black Project technology, Magical Combat specialists from the Council of Alf, and Spiritech operators from private military contractors/research firm TechneX Industries. The Council’s contributions to this battallion tends to be in the form of stealth operators and reconnaisance missions, although the involvement of classical magical artillery (fire magic, and lots of it) has not been unheard of. ‘Foo Fighters’, popularly ascribed to extraterrestrial involvement in World War II ,are a particularly interesting example of Council psychological warfare at work: The orbs of light, appearing to follow even allied craft, were in fact the projected spirits of Council clairvoyants, positioned to be the eyes of an early example of the ‘totally networked battlefield’. The pilots, of course, could not be told the reality of these glowing orbs and thus the legends formed with not a little assistance from the Council’s disinformation agents.
Q: What do you think would happen if the existence of the Elfs the Fae the Sorcerors and the Incarna where to become public knowledge? (By Captain.Cat)
A: It depends on the level of exposure. If only one or two magical beings were exposed, there would probably be significant scientific and cultural interest, but the entire magical society would probably remain safe in general. However, were the extent to which the major countries actually invest in the magical community and exploit their services in secret to be revealed, there would undoubtedly by immense public outcry. Not only have the magical beings been treated as second-class citizens and made to work for one country’s gain over all others, there would probably be a huge religious crisis: Remember that the reason that Alfheim fell in the first place was due in no small part to the Holy Roman Empire’s zeal. It is incredibly likely that paranoia would set in across the globe, due to the increased religious and social tensions, and while human society would almost certainly recover as we have done so in the past, the magical community would do one of three things: They would be destroyed, they would return to hiding, or they would be forced to submit even further to scrutiny and monitoring. Perversely, the third option would probably provide them the best chances of survival. Which begs the question: Which would be more important? The survival and growth of your community, or your freedom?
Q: How does Roderick get that shirt on without messing up his huge wings?. Later we see Ixnay and Sassoon wearing hooded robes and their wings are showing. Are there cuts in the back of the robes for them to put their wings through or is there no back to the robes? (By Captain.Cat, paraphrased)
A: You’ll notice that the female pixies tend to wear a kind of halter top, with a fastening at the small of their back; In order to put those on, one would fasten the bottom first, like a belt, then raise the front and complete the garment by fastening the collar around the neck, so that it essentially hangs forward from the neck with room for the wings to function. Roderick’s proved a bit of a challenge, because I wanted something less feminine than the halter tops for the male pixies. As such, his shirt is similarly backless; While it still has a fastening at the small of his back, the collar itself is more rigid, with enough room to manouevre his head through. It rests on top of his shoulders while being anchored by the fastening at the bottom, similarly to the halter tops but with a more manly feel to it. As to the robes (and Burgundia’s dress) again they work similarly but with a bit more effort. One would have to pile the robe/dress on the ground, step into it, pull it up and over oneself (in the case of the robes, insert arms into the sleeves), and place the head through the collar of the hood to secure the top (or in the case of the dress, fasten the halter). Kayleigh’s top is a slightly different variant on the halter top in that it has tiny little sleeves, which adds a little bit of shoulder menace to her profile. Realistically, these clothes would be prone to slipping forward, and would require fairly tight belts or waist fastenings I would imagine. But if there are any cosplayers out there who want to give this a shot, let me know how it goes!
Q: I remember on the Whittle Extra that, around the beginning of the first paragraph, it said “They embody the living essence of that which they drew their shape form, from the humble rat to the grand and majestic spirit of a nation.” I was wondering, did you add this in as a possible plot point (In the far far future) or a reference to some anime that I do not know about? (By Captain.Cat)
A: When I came up with the concept of the Spirit Incarna, at first I limited it to animals because they were very straightforward to anthropomorphise. But that didn’t satisfy me; I kept on coming up with more interesting and exotic characters who were supernatural/fantastic, but did not fit with traditional archetypes. As a result, I informally expanded the scope of the Incarna to cover all sorts of descended spirits, granting myself maximum creativity in that area. Millie Bach was the first non-animal Incarnum I came up with, although it took me a little while to work her into the comic, and making her stand out as being ‘not an elf’ when there were no very obvious features I could add was an interesting challenge. I wound up making her somewhat elf-like, with extremely pale blue skin and dark green hair; I had considered actually making her hair seaweed, but did not like the look that imparted to her as it made her appear less sleek when her whole purpose was to be excellent at swimming. I eventually included serrated tips to her ears to further differentiate her. The design I did for Sapphire, who has thus far appeared once, was even more challenging: I could have just made him another elven soldier, but I wanted someone who looked unique to have a bit of shared history with Shanna. The idea of a golem-like character created from stone leapt into my mind, but was too standard to be interesting enough. I then got to thinking: What if instead of stone or clay, the ‘golem’ was made from jewels? The obvious aesthetic solution, of course, would be to create a jewel-encrusted look for the character. That’s not quite how the Incarna work in my mind, however: I wanted something that embodied the source of the spirit rather than just simply looking like the source. So yes, Sapphire is a vibrant blue color, but he is also cold, graceful and and somewhat brittle.
Anyway, to cut my rambling short, when I said that I just wanted to emphasise the fact that Spirit Incarna can come from any object or concept, and that they would reflect that in their general appearance and personality. Case in point: Shanna Whittle is a brawler, a bully and a brutal hunter, frequently picking on those weaker than herself; She embodies the vicious killer-instincts of the fox. Fliss Whittle, on the other hand, was bright, sprightly and welcoming; She represented the playful nature of fox cubs.
Q: Is there any particular reason you decided to base this in the United States? (By Captain.Cat)
A: That’s a pretty good question! In general, I tend to base my works in one of three locales: Glasgow and its surroundings, South East Asia, or in the case of my more futuristic stuff, on a seastead metropolis. I ruled these out, however; An Asian setting for elves simply does not fit with the atmosphere or lore, and besides, we have plenty of supernatural beings of our own to build stories on, which I’ll visit in print next year. I wanted to do something rooted in the present-day, which ruled a seastead society out of the picture. Setting the story in Britain COULD have been done, but our government just doesn’t have the same history of conspiracy and occlusion as the US government does. In particular, the North-East of the US serves as a plausible setting for Nordic supernatural creatures as it was known to the Vikings, and ergo could have been explored previously by the Elves. The main reason, however, really does centre on the ‘conspiracy potential’ of the northeast. I love the X-Files, and due to its proximity to the seat of the US government, that whole area became a kind of byword for shadow governance and covert experimentation. In addition, the US is far enough away from Germany and the rest of Central Europe that it provides more plausibility for the Elves having lost their homeland. Finally, the US has a plethora of different landscapes to set stories in; Look out for this in the next arc, ‘Dreamland’, where the ‘conspiracy potential’ of the southwest comes into play!
Q: Why did Kayleigh keep Burgundia around after she took the throne? (By Captain.Cat)
As mentioned here, it was mostly a power thing. By keeping the old royal family around, Kayleigh was showing that she did not fear them, which built up her image in the public eye. There would also be the chance that, if she killed the old royal family straight away, she would have created a martyr for the dragonflies to rally around. She would also be able to use the old royals as bargaining chips, would the situation ever have arisen. Finally, Kayleigh harbours a petty grudge against the old royalty and gets a kick out of making the D’Avalon daughters work as maids (mentioned a few pages later). Kayleigh is by no means stupid, she has actually behaved quite shrewdly in retaining such a valuable, if somewhat risky commodity. Unfortunately, as you can tell from their attire and behaviour, Wasp culture is significantly more primitive than Dragonfly and Butterfly culture, and so Kayleigh still rules with her heart more than her head, contrary to her railing against the D’Avalon reign. But hey, what good is being a leader if you can’t be a hypocrite every once in a while, eh?
Q: What was the significance (if there was any) of the blood at the bottom panel in the fifth page of Miscalculation? (By Captain.Cat)
A: Absolutely none, I’m sorry to say! That was early on in my exploration of different framing arrangements, and I hadn’t quite gotten comfortable with empty space, so I felt inclined to fill the gap with something. The blood motif is fairly common throughout Elf Blood (Hell, it’s right in the name) so I naturally gravitated towards that. You can see where I’ve gone in the complete opposite direction here, where I’ve left just a little too much white space. I think I’ve gotten a reasonable balance now, but Elf Blood’s framing is still actually fairly regular: My current print work, Lemon Candies, shows a lot more variance, with framing actually being used as part of the narrative to denote paranormal events, and spacing within the framing to denote isolation or emotional detachment.
Q: Have you noticed that the way the Accountant’s beard and hat are positioned that it almost makes it look like he has a crescent moon for a head? Was this done on purpose or not? (By Captain.Cat)
A: Blimey, you’re right! As much as I’d like to take credit for some sort of symbolism, no, it wasn’t intentional! I just tried to make the Accountant visually distinct from the Truenamer, since they’re both elderly elves from the last days of Alfheim. The curly beard was about as different a type of beard from the fairly straightforward one that the Truenamer bore, while the hat was supposed to be reminiscent of the 7-Dwarves, since he’s so short and wizened. But that’s a pretty awesome observation, I like it!
Q: Will we ever learn Mara’s adoptive mother’s name? (By Captain.Cat)
A: Yes, there is an arc amongst a series of short arcs in the future where we see the younger King and Tintin during happier days, and the relationship that Mara’s adoptive mother has with them. There is a major event that has to happen before that, however, and that event won’t happen for at least another year or so.
Q: “There tends not to be individuated cults dedicated to gods, but rather the main pantheon is venerated as a whole, with Great Mara at the very peak”.
It sounds like there are still some groups who may venerate some gods or one god in particular as opposed to the whole pantheon. Are they shadowy, hidden groups so that they are not persecuted/so that they can worship without interference? Or are they known but very much in the minority? Either way, how are they treated by those who venerate or acknowledge the whole pantheon equally?
Also, do the Fae races have something similar or do they have their own religious system, if any? (By Nick)
A: The Alfen Pantheon operates not so much like the Old Norse religion as it does, say, Hinduism or other Asian polytheistic religions; there are a great many Gods, some of which are probably local or only worshipped by small and specialised sects, but there exists a core of Divines tying everything together. In Elf Blood, these key divines are Mara and Mortessa, representing The Beginning and The End respectively and are worshipped by all who follow the Alfen Pantheon. Surrounding them are other Gods that represent various facets of the world, and are considered to be derived or otherwise born of the Mother Goddesses. Already mentioned has been Mith, the Goddess of Magic who abandoned the Death Elves upon seeing their brutality, and Katonn (also known as Hideous Katonn), a nascent Nature God whose ‘birth’ was marred by complications and warped him into a weird aspect of corruption.
These lesser Gods are generally acknowledged to exist by each others’ devotees, but are not necessarily worshipped by all. Persecution amongst Alfen religious groups has generally been quite low; the main divisions between groups of elves were in social class with the religion felt as one of the few things binding the race together in the face of hostile and pious human empires. The best evidence for religious tolerance amongst the elves is probably the existence of Alfen Jews and Alfen Catholics, both of which were taken into the pantheon as separate facets. Obviously, there are some Gods representing facets that are less ‘desireable’ than others. Gods will have been created, at some point, to govern the more sinister facets and while they themselves are seldom regarded as purely evil, worshippers will have been viewed with suspicion. I mean, it takes a really foolish or incredibly bold criminal to worship the Goddess of Thieves in public, so worship of these Gods tends to take place within the walls of a home or guild. If one were to reveal their devotion to such a God, however, the effect would not be so much violence and hatred but more of a subtle, understated shunning or coldness. Consider our world, and the way people would react if someone were discovered to be doing something deemed unacceptable by society, but still technically legal.
As to the Fae races, while there has been some communication between the Alfen religion and that of the Pixies, it has mostly stood unchanged through those interactions. Pixies worship a singular all-powerful Green Goddess, who has dominion over all nature and that which is derived from it. It is from her stern but caring nature that the Pixies’ matriarchal society has grown from. Fairies are less well-defined in terms of religion and practice a system of ancestor worship and animism, often excusing their mischievous and greedy nature by way of being influenced by hobgoblin-like spirits (although it’s just as likely they got drunk and another fairy dared them to do something stupid). Other varieties of Fae worship singular Gods based closely upon their habitats: Selkies worship the Seal Goddess, Brownies the Jolly Filthy Man (imagine a tiny Santa Claus caked in dirt) and Kelpies the Mare in Weeds. Again, similar to the Alfen Pantheon, the Fae acknowledge the existence and influence of the other Gods, but will insist that theirs is the true aspect.
Q: Do the Council use any standard military weapons? (e.g. using a AK47 or a M16.) Why are the guns we seen the council troops using colored blue? (By Captain.Cat)
A: I imagine that, where their own weaponry doesn’t meet their needs, they will use more standard military equipment. However, when I started drawing weaponry for the Council, I couldn’t draw weaponry properly hence the rather boxy designs they now have (though I do admit, I quite like the design of the Shark carbine as it is quite distinctive). They’re blue to match the Council’s color scheme, and to further differentiate them from regular armaments. The Council’s small arms tend not to be magical, they’re probably only using them because they developed them and wish to put some distance between them and the human military. Their heavy weapons, on the other hand, are almost exclusively magical. I have a design for a weapon that Cecelie will eventually command that simulates the effect of an old Alfen battle choir: It’s a multi-signal generator with articulated arms in front, and it looks like a shoulder-wielded ripple rocket launcher. Although frankly, a battle choir in itself would probably look more awesome 😀
Q: What does the Council do when they are spotted by civilians? (By Captain.Cat)
A: Essentially, unless there is an operational risk, they leave the civilian alone. Who’s going to believe somebody who’s seen an elf cast a magic spell at a beast-man? The witness will generally be left to their own devices, as harassing them will inevitably draw more attention to their existence. However, if there is a threat to the Council’s operations, they are not permitted to intervene: Strictly speaking, they are supposed to raise the issue with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, who were tasked with maintaining security of top-secret military technology in the late 1940s. Agents from the AFOSI will be dispatched to establish the potential depth of damage and, if necessary, achieve cooperation in limiting the spread of this knowledge. The Council’s spec ops division do have units capable of manipulating memories, but after a disastrous period of experimentation in the 50s, 60s and 70s the military became wary of deploying such magic on its own citizens. Limited use of these powers is permitted outside of US soil, but must be approved and handled by the CIA.
Q: Why does the Council place implants on different parts of the body, e.g. Sometimes on the cheek, on the breast or in JN’s case one big one on the back?(By Captain.Cat)
A: The implants are placed nearest the area that they’re designed to affect, or nearest to the organ from which they gain most power. So, by character: SKO’s implant, a command module that acts similarly to hypnosis, is placed on her cheek to allow her to project her influence by gazing into her target’s eyes. Buma is a special case: He has two, one for enhanced vision on his chee (again for the eyes) and one on his forehead for enhanced intelligence (which would stimulate his brain had it not failed). Shanna’s is a counter-electronics package, again on her cheek allowing it to interface with her eyes and give her enhanced information about the systems she’s dealing with. TKO’s implant is over her heart to amplify the effects of her sympathetic magic, since the heart serves as an area of concentration for magic in one’s body. Mara’s implant is on her cheek to link her eyes to her magic analysis package (which we’ve yet to see in action, since she’s probably still learning to use it). JN’s implant is a specially designed one, to provide enhanced upper-body strength by tapping into the normally unusable magic potential in Death Elves’ bodies and diverting that power to the muscles. King’s implants are unique, in that they were the first prototype implants and actually bear more resemblance to TechNeX Corporation’s SpiriTech implants (more on that much, much later), and are located on his forehead to amplify his magical abilities because at the time the theory indicated that magical ability was directly linked with intellect and therefore the brain. Eventually, I’d like to play around with the placement of implants on characters; At the moment, they tend to be placed on the most visible areas of the body, but I’d quite like to create a character with an implant over their liver, especially an asian-themed supernatural character.
Q: Was there any reason why you decided to kill off Goldmann and Sapphire? (By Captain.Cat)
A: Somebody had to die in order to illustrate how lethal and merciless KN was. Of course, I didn’t want to kill off any of the main cast just yet; Goldmann and Sapphire had just enough backstory for readers to feel for them when they died. So really, they’re simply victims of cold, hard logic. Shame, but somebody had to die for the cause!
Q: So why were you originally planning to have Mara turn into a villain? (By Captain.Cat)
A: I think that, when I started out writing Elf Blood, I was so desperate for there to be a massive twist that I immediately went for the most shocking thing imaginable. That was to have Mara, who was the very first character the readers were introduced to, suddenly betray not just her friends but the readers themselves by murdering Fliss and becoming a general bitch. However, as I worked more with the characters, I grew to care more about them, and I got to know their personalities better; Mara, while capable of being influenced by outside forces, would not simply snap so simply into villainy; She would genuinely be horrified at her own actions, once she realised what she had done. It wouldn’t fit her character as I had written, nor as I had envisioned her in my head.
Q: Where would a new reader best be directed to start reading? (By Lord Matt)
A: First of all, welcome, new readers! I’m always thrilled to learn that people are discovering the comic, and hope you enjoy it! Anyways, I keep on meaning to do summaries of each story arc and re-do my character bios so that new readers can jump right in without having to trawl through the archives. Until then, as of late June 2013, the current story arc “Crush Depth” can be read and enjoyed without much prior knowledge of the universe. As this story is told, I think it should then be possible to catch up by starting at the beginning, although I warn you that both art and storytelling are heavily unrefined for the first year of the comic! It does improve, however. If you wanted more of a flavour of the main running story of the comic, I would recommend the previous story arc, “Dreamland,” which should provide enough of an explanation through its narrative to get you up to speed. Hopefully that gives you a good jumping in point!
Q: What would you say is the number of half-elves (like Mara) that live in the world? Are there more then one type of half-elf? (like one that is half Incarna and half Elf) and how often is one born? (By Captain.Cat)
A: Interesting question, I’ve never actually thought all that much about the prevalence of half-elves in the Elf Blood world, before! I certainly doubt that half-elves are all that common in modern times, due to the general lack of exposure that humans have to elves. I think that’s the main limiting factor in the prevalence of half-elves, although judging from some characters’ reactions, there does exist a very small prejudice against half-elves.
As to half-incarna-half-elves, I actually do have a rule regarding incarnum breeding. When an incarnum mates, the child will take on the physical attributes of the mother, INCLUDING the species, while the father’s main contribution (other than relatively minor physical attributes such as appearance, genetic quirks) is to the spirit of the child. Take Carlita for example – Her mother was a feline incarnum, hence her physical manifestation as a cat-type incarnum. She has a human soul, however, and lacks the ability to perform magic. Similarly, if a child’s mother was an elf, but her father was, say, a river incarnum, the child would be born an elf, and would probably be predisposed to enjoy swimming. Socially, however, the child would probably be treated as a half-human-half-elf would. This is actually how the Meeralf population was formed – They are actually more or less equal parts incarnum and elf, as a race. See the Extra on Meeralfs for more information!
It should be noted that the Alfen civilisation has, historically, not been all that averse to miscegenation – Only highly conservative purists ever objected. This can be demonstrated in the existence of the Elmaazi (Moorish and High-Elf/Dark Elf), Alsatian (French and High-Elf) and Meeralf (Sea Incarna and High-Elf/Dark Elf). Even more recently, the J and K-series projects mixed human genes with elven ones, so they’re not actually pure elf. Although the K series has a particularly interesting lineage… More on that to come!
Q: In Elf blood is there any truth to legends about Changelings or Wendigos? (By Captain.Cat)
A: Yes to the Changelings, Not-So-Sure to the Wendigos. Due to the scattering of the elves during the fall of Alfheim, it often became necessary to shore up the numbers of the smaller tribes by abducting human children and raising them as elves, leaving behind enchanted decoys that would wither and die in time. Eventually, these human children would marry into the tribe and so too would their children, and their descendents would again become mostly elven. The abducted children would often be given charmed talismans to protect them, as they would not have the same resistances to many of the magical dangers experienced by the elves that their adopted elven parents would. This is the origin of the Changeling Mark found riiiiiight all the way back at the beginning of Elf Blood – and keep that in mind, as it may become important in a future storyline!
As to the legend of the Wendigo, I don’t see it being an Elf Blood thing – I’ve certainly never considered it before, so I don’t know how it would fit into everything. However, as part of Mei Wu and its expanded universe (I’m working on something else at the moment based on Scottish spirits), because of its reliance on various native spirits and customs, I think it would fit right in there. Certainly, I’ve actually been toying with the idea of taking a holiday to the states to do more research on the spiritual beliefs of various Native American peoples in a bid to better understand the culture (more for my own curiosity than anything) and to be able to write an accurate, believable Native American spirit-based character. I like to think that Ash and Gwen are believable as characters, because they’re not just empowered spirit creatures, they’re also 15-year old Cantonese girls who follow cultural customs as well, and that’s what makes rounded, interesting, believable characters. Same with the project I’m currently drawing up – more detail on that later, if anything comes from it!