A Temporary Chemical Imbalance caused by Poison Elves

I’d like to take some time now to talk about one of my favorite graphic novels series Poison Elves.  Poison Elves was created written and drawn by Drew Hayes and remained in indy status, published in black and white throughout the entirety of its run.  It began in 1991 as a self-published work under the Mulehide Graphics label and was titled I,Lusiphur, referring to the main character, a young (by elf standards) elf with a bad temper, a cynical disposition and knack for getting into trouble.  With issue #8 Hayes changed the title to Poison Elves and continued his direct market publishing.  In 1995 he signed a lifetime contract with Sirius Entertainment, the sometimes home of another favorite of mine Joseph Michael Linsner, the creator of Dawn.

Hayes continued his work through Sirius Entertainment publishing another 79 issues including a color special that was released in 2004.  Sadly Hayes passed away in 2007 from complications due to heart attack while suffering from pneumonia at the age of 37.  His work on Poison Elves is collected into ten volumes of trade paperbacks.  If you’ve never read Poison Elves I highly recommend picking up The Mulehide Years and giving it a try.  It covers the entire run of the series while under the Mulehide Graphics label volumes 1 thru 4 of the trades.

Poison Elves takes place in a world called Amrahly’nn, an anachronistic world where humans, elves, ogres, demons, orcs, wizards and dragons roam.  As I mentioned before the main character is an elf named Lusiphur or Luse to his few friends.  Lusiphur is nineteen years old by elf standards making him about a hundred and thirteen in human years, and he isn’t the most pleasant guy.  He drinks, smokes and gets into fights with repeated regularity.  He’s a liar, a thief, an assassin and has a weakness for any pretty face, which tends to get him into all kinds of trouble.

Lusiphur is the classic anti-hero and most of the people he kills, robs, or maims are usually much worse than he ever thought about being.  His best friend and the girl he loves but can never have is another elf by the name of Lirilith.  She appears infrequently throughout the series, and tends to be his moral compass.  Their story and the story of Lusiphur’s childhood is told in the four issue mini-series Lusiphur and Lirilith written by Hayes and drawn by Jason Shawn Alexander.  It is a great read and I recommend trying it out.

Lusiphur is joined later in the series by another elf named Jace and whether alone or together they can usually manage to get themselves into all kinds of trouble with little to no effort at all.  The best part of the series for me is Lusiphur himself. His almost constant internal monologue brilliantly written with cynical and ironic prose by Hayes is always good for a laugh.  It gets a little crowded in Lusiphur’s head sometimes since there is an imp named Parintachin living in the darkest corners of his somewhat warped psyche.  But that too makes the comprehensive exploration into the mind of Lusiphur that much more amusing.

There are several ongoing ‘villians’ who hound Lusiphur throughout the series, some serious others hilarious (ie The Purple Maurader, nyar nyar . . .).  One of the more serious is Tenth, considered to be the second greatest wizard in Amrahly’nn.  Lusiphur’s ex-wife Hyena who also happens to be a sorceress is known to show up and cause trouble from time to time as well.  But even without these Lusiphur has no trouble finding people who will happily kill him if he doesn’t kill them first.  Luckily for the reading audience Lusiphur has a knack for survival and he fights dirty.

In Volume 7 of the trades Lusiphur is even turned into a woman for a time, which makes for even greater hilarity.  I consider Poison Elves to be one of the best reads I’ve ever run across and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  If you like fantasy, adventure, magic and comedy you will definitely like Poison Elves.  You might have trouble finding it in your local comic book store, as its been awhile since Hayes passed and being an indy book it isn’t high on shop owners’ lists of books to keep in stock but it can definitely be found online.  Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed, but as one of Lusiphur’s most well known sayings goes, “Happiness is a temporary chemical imbalance of the true state of mind.”  Go read Poison Elves and get a little of that temporary chemical imbalance for yourself.


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