ElfQuest is a fantastical independent comics series, but, as we argue, it is also an attempt to make sense of the seeming contradictions between theories of queerness and between the identities claimed by individuals. We analyze ElfQuest's paradoxical visualizations of sexual identities as both analogous to and critical of historically contingent sexualities. To enact this analysis, we make good on the often untapped potential for collaborative writing to showcase panoramic views of difference within the same textual body: through seemingly contradictory theoretical and affective readings of ElfQuest, we demonstrate that the text naturally evokes such contradictory readings and, within those contradictions, challenges divisions between identity politics and more abstract theories of queerness. After a pointed walkthrough of ElfQuest's arc, our paper parses the comics series' cartooned visualizations of a language unfettered by Western sexual norms, questions its elfin biologies that are unshackled from heteronormativity, and illustrates the generatively queer and decidedly real spaces that the journey of ElfQuest's publication and reception has given rise to. We conclude with some speculations about how this comics phenomenon may continue to resonate within projects that treat cartooning and queer theory as overlapping pursuits.


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pp. 156-178
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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