It's impossible to walk past David Petersen's Mouse Guard booth and not stop to look at the amazing selection of work. Mouse Guard is celebrating it's 10th anniversary this year, so David has had quite a busy event schedule. Thankfully, I was able to chat with him at his booth at NYCC. After confessing that I am a recent Mouse Guard reader, and exclaiming how much of a genius I think he is, I asked a couple of questions.
Christine Marie: Let's start off by talking about your beginnings in comcics.
David Petersen: I just went to a local comic convention. Jeremy Bastian encouraged me to go and I was reluctant to go, because I didn't have a comic at that time…so why would I go to a comic convention? So, I just went to try and sell original artwork and get commission requests. Then some of the people saw my Mouse Guard concepts and asked, "When does this book come out?" So I responded "There is no book." But after three people asked me I said, "I'll have a book out for the next convention." So I set a deadline, and I had to figure out how to write and draw a comic.
CM: How did you connect with Archaia?
DP: So, that was in May of 2005 that I did the local convention and the self-published issue. Then in July 2005 I went to the San Diego Comic Convention just to wander around and I was encouraged to go talk to Mark Smiley, who ran Archaia at the time because they were just starting to open the door to new creator owned titles. So I showed it to Mark, and he said "let's publish that," and here we are ten years later. They're still my publisher.
CM: Do you like working with them?
DP: Yeah. They give me the freedom to do what I do. They don't get in my way. They do what every good publisher should do…they support me. They build the structure so I don't have to worry about the other stuff.
CM: Mouse Guard has been around for ten years. I jumped on the Mouse Guard train with Legends of the Guard Volume 3. I know it might be difficult but can you give a sum up or an order for someone who has just got into the series?
DP: Sure! Mouse Guard is a medieval fantasy story about mice with swords. The main series goes in the reading order: Fall, Winter, and Black Axe. That's the core series so far. Legends of the Guard volumes are the anthology Canterbury Tales where I bring in other creators. Because of the nature of the series, they can be read in any order. You can read a Legends book in between each of the other books. You can mix and match. They're just supposed to be a fun "wedding of the appetite" for the world of Mouse Guard.
CM: What has it been like working with so many amazing creative people?
DP: Oh, it's awesome. I'm handpicking all of these people anyway. I'm specifically targeting people that I want to work with. Although, when I say work with… I try to remain hands off as I possibly can. I don't need to micromanage. I try to front load all the rules at the beginning what the major do's and don'ts. After that, I want it to be their work. I want them to tell their story.
CM: Do you have a favorite book out of all of yours? Why?
DP: I'm really proud of Black Axe. I'm really proud of black axe. I feel like I did more than I set out to do. The end result really lived up to my expectations, not just with art but with story. It's a prequel book, and as we know from a certain star franchise, prequels can disappoint because it's stuff you kind of already know. I was aware of that problem, but tried to make sure I was overcoming it. I think I succeeded. It stands on it's own.
CM: What does the future hold for Mouse Guard. Can you share any upcoming news?
DP: The next major project is called The Weasel War of 1149. I haven't started working on it yet. I've been talking about it for a long time, but I've been doing a lot of traveling for the 10 year anniversary. I've also been illustrating Wind of the Willows for another publisher. So once that's done, I'll start working on The Weasel War of 1149. I'd say we'll probably go back and forth between doing a book of mine and another Legends book or some other kind of project.
Then I proceeded to buy things and David kindly signed everything with his memorable Mouse accompanied signature. If you haven't experienced any of the Mouse Guard books yet, be sure to do so. The art is beautiful and the stories are captivating and unique.
Christine Marie is a Staff Writer at Bleeding Cool, and bibliomaniac with a love for all things creative. She hopes to one day be a Superhero/Disney Princess/Novelist. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @AWritersWay or on her blog writerchristinemarie.wordpress.com.