The PREVIEWS Party: For those who are totally new to the Mouse Guard series, what is it all about and how do the Legends of the Guard books fit into the overall Mouse Guard story?
David Petersen: Mouse Guard is a medieval fantasy comic series about mice with swords overcoming the scale of their landscape, the ever changing weather conditions, and a world of fearsome predators. The Mouse Guard is an altruistic group of mice dedicated to patrolling the open country, escorting shipments of goods, and protecting the common mouse. Legends of the Guard is a spinoff series set in the world of Mouse Guard, but without bearing to the main story. It's an anthology where guest contributors tell the tall tales and legends of the Mouse Guard world. At a tavern mice tell these stories to try and win a contest to have their bar tab forgiven with the best tale. I draw all the tavern scenes, but the mice's stories are done by the contributors.
The PREVIEWS Party: In Legends of the Guard, you open up the fantastic world of Mouse Guard to other writers and artists to tell their stories. What has the process been like selecting creative teams for Legends of the Guard?
David Petersen: The selection process mostly boils down to my personal taste. I invited comic creators (and even a few artists and writers who had never done sequential comics), because I'm attracted to their work and how they tell a story with it. When we did the first series, I generated three lists, the first being people I admired who also had already expressed interest in Mouse Guard and perhaps offered to do a pinup or something. Those were the 'for-sure's . . . I also made a list of people who I liked and had met, but didn't know if they had any interest in Mouse Guard, and finally a list of folks I'd never met and were long-shots. We made our way almost all the way through the first and second volume by only using people from that first list.
Creatively, I want their voices to be unique and strong. I didn't want to get them to try and do a David Petersen-style story or get them to change the look of their work. The individuality of their stories and art are meant to be a visual representation of the mouse's voice who tells the story.
The PREVIEWS Party: As the writer and artist of the June Alley Inn scenes, you're linked into every one of the guest stories. What's the experience like collaborating on a project with so many other writers and artist? How do you go about coordinating the storytellers in the inn with their stories?
David Petersen: For the most part, I try and stay out of their way. There have been a few occasions where they have asked me to work out their story ideas with them or ask for notes on the pacing or the art, but I only do as much as I'm asked to do. It's a pleasure just to watch the behind the scenes on all of these creators I admire making mouse stories; I don't need to get my hands into it. I do the tavern scenes after they turn in (mostly) finished pages. I just write some dialogue that meshes right in with the last line or theme of the previous story and into the theme or first lines of the next.
The PREVIEWS Party: Since this is The PREVIEWS Party, are there any other upcoming books you are excited for?
David Petersen: Locke & Key has become one of my new favorites, so I'm keeping up with the current issues, but it's always nicer to settle in to a nice chair on an afternoon with the collected hardcover and pour over the whole story. It also usually inspires me to go back and re-read the past volumes. The next Hellboy Library edition I'll do the same with.
The PREVIEWS Party: Okay, pitch time! Why should readers rush out and pre-order Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard Volume 2 right away?
David Petersen: Where else can you get an anthology with work from talent like Stan Sakai, Bill Willingham, Rick Geary, Cory Godbey, Eric Canete, and many more getting the freedom to do what they want while telling really fun mouse fables?
The PREVIEWS Party would like to thank David Petersen for taking the time to answer our questions. Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard Volume 2 is available for pre-order in this month’s PREVIEWS magazine. You can learn more about the book by visiting Archaia’s website. You can also check out David Petersen’s website to stay up to date on all the latest Mouse Guard news.
Until next time, keep reading.
- Jason Enright