I, Lusiphur and the Dark Magic Beginnings of Drew Hayes' Poison Elves

Creator Drew Hayes reportedly once described his signature creation Poison Elves as "Elfquest meets Terminator", but another way to look at this seminal product of the early 1990s is as the legacy of not only Elfquest, but also indie touchstones like Dave Sim's Cerebus and even Kevin Eastman's and Peter Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As noteworthy for its content as it is for the 1990s indie comics aesthetic that it helped to usher in, the first appearance of Poison Elves in I, Lusiphur #1 from Hayes' Mulehide Graphics imprint in 1991 is an important stop on the path that led to the rise of the creator-owned movement that boomed in the 1990s and beyond. There is an I, Lusiphur #1 CGC 9.8 available in today's session of the 2021 January 17-18 Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation, Video Games & Art Weekly Online Auction at Heritage Auctions.

I, Lusiphur #1 cover by Drew Hayes, 1991 Mulehide Graphics.
I, Lusiphur #1 cover by Drew Hayes, 1991 Mulehide Graphics.

Hayes described some of his early fundamental thinking on his material to an early letter-writer to I, Lusipher, who had praised the debut issue with, "At last an "alternative" elf. Not a pious snob — like Tolkien's elves. Not a silly "Disneyesque" elf…":

I'm trying to draw a line between elves and men, I believe he crossed it (at times) a bit too far, resulting in the image of his elves being quite the pious snobs".

Elves, having a much longer lifespan than men, would logically see humans as impatient and a bit immature, but I don't believe this would be enough to make themselves think they are tiny gods next to them. There's a rather broad difference in aristocracy and downright self-religion, and in future issues, when other elves are brought into this en masse, I plan on making this difference painfully clear.

Remember, in Perraoult's Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf ate her in the end, and she was never rescued.

Burp.

As for magic — I slanted a wee bit on it in issue two, but later — there's this elvin sorcerer, his name is Tenth, and….. burrr!

Well, that will be when it shall be.

Sirius Entertainment publisher Robb Horan published a 2006 letter he received from Hayes in Poison Elves #80 which serves as a bookend of sorts for Hayes' thoughts on his creation. It reads in part:

I started Poison Elves when I was 21. I wanted to do a comic that was fantasy-based because from the time I was 12, I was all about elves, swords, magic, etc — all that shit. Loved it and, don't worry — still do.

But now, at 37, I know myself to be much more than that. The guy that started Poison Elves was a pissed-off, reactionary, spoiled, Dave Sim-worshipping fanboy that wanted to do a swords & sorcery elf book that'd not only eat other such books alive, but was generally what Poison Elves turned out to be — a black sheep. Nobody else has even tried to do a book with elves as main characters in the past ten years. While I think I've far from conquered comics, I have taken elf mountain and I don't think anyone's dumb enough to try to revamp the genre.

After long-term health problems, Hayes had a heart attack while suffering pneumonia.  He died in March 2007 at the age of 37. His creation has had an enduring impact throughout the 1990s and past the turn of the century. The original I, Lusiphur series had a title change to Poison Elves after seven issues, and the debut series ultimately enjoyed a 20-issue run.  Hayes then moved the series to publisher Sirius Entertainment where the title had an 80-issue run ending in 2007. The property was revived by other creators in 2013 by Ape Entertainment.  In addition to Poison Elves, Hayes became known to comic fandom at large for a mock feud he and creator Brian Bendis engaged in within each of their letters pages.

There is an I, Lusiphur #1 CGC 9.8 available in today's session of the 2021 January 17-18 Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation, Video Games & Art Weekly Online Auction at Heritage Auctions.

I, Lusiphur and the Dark Magic Beginnings of Drew Hayes' Poison Elves
I, Lusiphur #1 cover by Drew Hayes, 1991 Mulehide Graphics.

I, Lusiphur #1 (Mulehide Graphics, 1991) CGC NM/MT 9.8 White pages. Drew Hayes cover and art. Overstreet 2020 NM- 9.2 value = $90. CGC census 1/21: 7 in 9.8, none higher.

About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.

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