Writer/artist David Petersen has gained a massive following for his super cute and super awesome Mouse Guard series, which began as mere sketches at a comic convention. With tons of new Mouse Guard tales forthcoming this year in various different fashions, including a Free Comic Book Day Mouse Guard/Fraggle Rock flip book from Archaia, we got a chance to speak with the creator about all things happening in the Mouse Guard universe.
David Petersen: It’s pretty incredible really! I was just thinking the other day as I was being asked for a “professional opinion” that a few years ago I was an amateur and before that a salesman at an antiques store. I thought I’d try getting into the comics industry and I did, very quickly. And it’s all because of the mice.
David Petersen: The Flip Book will be a free book available to people who attend Free Comic Book Day at their local store. I have contributed 11 pages of all-new Mouse Guard. When you flip the book over and read it from the other side, you will get a Fraggle Rock story. So in some ways, it’s like an all-ages Archaia sampler.
David Petersen: We didn’t have cable when I was a kid (in fact, my parents didn’t get cable until I was away at college), so I wasn’t able to see Fraggle Rock in its original run. I was a huge Muppet fan and a fan of The Dark Crystal and pretty much anything Jim Henson was involved in that I could get my hands on. I have since been more thoroughly introduced to the Fraggles.
CraveOnline: Free Comic Book Day is generally an opportunity for publishers to hook in new readers by sampling their best and most exciting titles. With Mouse Guard being a part of that, do you find it at all intimidating to keep up the quality of your work?
David Petersen: It was an intimidating story to work on. The first thought was for us to just reissue part of an old story. But I disliked that plan because it was something we had already done and I found it hard to isolate any existing issue down to 10-11 pages. I then decided to do all-new material. The trouble there was the new story had to serve as a perfect appetizer of what Mouse Guard is. I made sure it had a little bit of everything: Familiar mouse characters, fights with large animals, history, maps, mice doing big jobs, mouse engineering, links to old and upcoming stories, and a few Easter eggs for fans who already follow the books.
David Petersen: Not as hard as one might think. The concept for the series came about because I really liked what Jeremy Bastian and Mark Smylie did with their pinups for Fall 1152. I told them that I trusted them both to play in my world whenever they wanted. These stories are tales told around a tavern in the Mouse Guard world, so they don’t have to be canon, which gives them (and me) some freedom. Since I’m handpicking the creators involved, it also made it easier to trust. These are people whose work I respect and admire. Some of the final artwork for stories is coming in now and I wasn’t wrong with the people I chose. Readers are in for a real treat!
David Petersen: I have a list! Some of these folks are already on-board, others we have not asked, but they are all fine illustrators and storytellers: Karl Kershel, Craig Rousseau, Charles Vess, Rick Geary, Stan Sakai, Jeff Smith, Mike Mignola, Travis Charest, Art Adams, Rebecca Guay…
CraveOnline: Vess and Mouse Guard is a match made in heaven. Volume 3, The Black Axe, is set for release in September. What can fans expect from the next six issues?
David Petersen: These issues will be the story that Celanawe promises to tell Lieam back in Winter, but never gets to. It’s the story of the first time Celanawe’s paw touched the Black Axe. It will take the mice across the sea, and they will encounter a ferret king.
David Petersen: In addition to all the stuff going on with Mouse Guard that you mentioned, I’m also excited to be doing Muppet covers over at Boom!. However, I have a long road to hoe with Mouse Guard…there are many, many more stories to tell.
David Petersen: Thank you!