William Woods writes from Denver Comic Con,
David Petersen begins his Denver Comic Con 2015 panel by reading from "Baldwin the Brave". It is the 10th Anniversary of Mouse Guard, and the reason it continues to endure is evident in David's story telling skill. As he reads to the audience, he provides an energetic and unique voice to each of his mice. He seems to almost drift away from the room. Lost in the adventure he is sharing, the listeners hold tight to his words as they are pulled aloft with him. He concludes his tale and closes the book quietly. The thump is from the audience dropping back into their seats.
Mouse Guard actually begins more than 10 years ago in the mind of an imaginative, Dungeons & Dragons playing teenage artist. He originally imagines a grand fantasy with animals as the main characters, inspired by Walt Disney's Robin Hood. As his idea progresses, he realizes that his tale is closer to Aesop's Fables than something from Walt Disney. Giving each species its own culture, architecture and way of life means having a darker tone. Mice would constantly be threatened by the larger species. Instead of being like Hobbits venturing out of their homes and no one believing they could change the world, David Petersen says "It would be like if the Hobbits left their home and the elves tried to eat them"
As a man's dream of mice begins to solidify, David came across Brian Jacques' Redwall. "Someone is already doing it better" he says as Saxon, Gwendolyn, Kenzie and the rest of the guard remain hidden. Time enough goes by for a job at an antiques store, a house and a family. A friend, Jeremy Bastian, eventually coaxes the mice out for Motor City Comic Con. "I don't even have a comic book", says David.
Public response is so strong at Motor City Comic Con that David commits to having an issue of the comic ready for the next con months later. The comic is such a success at selling 70 copies, that David is able to make a profit. "This is terrific!" and all could end here. David is happy, his comic sells but, what more could it do. After all he says "Who wants a square book about mice?"
A trip to San Diego Comic Con and a meeting with Mark Smylie with Archaia Entertainment shows David a lot of people want a square book about mice. Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 is first and Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 follows it. Don't get attached to the seasonal titles, he cautions. The titles are more metaphor describing the story than a reference to the time of year.
Mouse Guard: Black Axe provides a prequel to the first books. The requests to keep the adventures of the mice alive are faster than David can write, draw and color his books as he has done all himself. Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard allows other creators to take the beloved mice and tell more tales. Jeremey Bastian and Mark Smylie both contribute to the projects they are god parents of.
A second edition of the Mice Guard Role Playing game is due this summer. A board game based on a game the mice play in the comics is also set for release and David Petersen has a very clear idea of what he wants to see in a Mouse Guard movie though no plans are currently set for that to happen. Of course, more square comic books about mice are planned.
In 10 Years, Mouse Guard has become legend and the audience leans forward in their seats as the Denver Comic Con conference room becomes the June Alley Inn and the mice gather around for the next story.