It is Halloween! A nationally endorsed day of cosplay! A wonderful opportunity to celebrate other people’s art (and show off my daughter. It’s my blog, I’m allowed).
When my daughter was very small, she discovered Elfquest, the best comic book story of all time. Some people disagree with that opinion, but that’s okay–they are allowed to be wrong (If you are unfamiliar with them, go read them right now!). I wasn’t sure they were appropriate reading material for someone so young, but she made the choice on her own, and lured by the colorful images, climbed up to the top of the bookshelves to get to them. With visions of a daughter crushed under a pile of books and shelving, I yielded to the inevitable (and gravity) and moved Elfquest to the bottom shelf and didn’t interfere.
They have been preferred reading ever since.
A few years later, still entranced by the stories, she decided to be Leetah (one of the main characters and a healer) for Halloween. This choice was particularly noteworthy, because that was also the year Frozen was released, and Elsa was pretty tough competition. Of course, dressing as a desert dweller when living in North Dakota can be a bit complicated, but we managed.
It’s now three years later and she has decided to be Winnowill, another Elfquest character, for Halloween this year. I flippantly said something about her deciding she wanted to be a “bad guy”. She thought about that for awhile, and then very seriously asked if Winnowill was “bad”. Which led to a conversation about how Winnowill had started out as a healer devoted to her community, what happens when people don’t feel they belong or are appreciated, and how mental illness is a sickness in need of healing. How, just like in the stories, while the rest of the community has the right to protect themselves from the harmful endeavors of the mentally ill individual, that that person wasn’t bad–but rather in need of care. QUITE the conversation, and really quite pertinent to the current mental illness epidemic drowning the United States.
And I realized just how many such conversations we have had over the years that Elfquest has helped to facilitate. Conversations on hard topics that can all be tied back to compassion, empathy, kindness, and respect. Conversations starting and ending with a story begun nearly 30 years before she was born.
So this is a tiny tribute to Wendy and Richard Pini, amazing artist/storytellers. They have created a beautifully rich platform for helping me be a better mother than I would be otherwise, and prove that good art changes lives and spans generations. My daughter as Winnowill, an incredibly complex and well-crafted character.
FYI, my daughter wanted Winnowill‘s outfit, but with everything shorter (“So I don’t trip all over the place”). Our extremely scientific and unbiased observations indicate that much of the character’s icy elegance in the stories is due to costume length. Cut gown and hair down to ten-year-old lengths and there is a distinctive strut and swish. Also, much gratuitous posing interspersed with wide grins, as she is so terribly pleased with herself.
Happy cosplay day, everyone!