Interview with Mouse Guard’s David Petersen, Part Two!

So, if you read part one of our MASSIVE Mouse Guard interview, then you know that there was plenty of awesome news about what’s coming up for our favorite mice.  And that was just the beginning!

After the jump, read the second part of our interview with creator David Petersen, where we talk about spin-offs, merchandising…and Muppet Robin Hood?

Click the mice below to check out the interview!

Click here to read part two of our interview with David Petersen!
Click here to read part two of our interview with David Petersen!

Given the premise and the hundreds of stories, literally, that you could probably tell in this world, is it something you want to handle yourself from here until the day you’re done with it, or are you hoping one day to maybe have spin-off series with other talent?

I think it practically needs to be one hundred percent me.  That being said, I do have an idea for a spin-off called Tales of the Guard or Adventures of the Guard or Legends of the Guard – that’s the one I decided on.  Legends of the Guard, where basically my favorite artists, who are willing to contribute, would do a story.  And I thought about ways of book-ending a compilation like that with some of my stuff and kind of making it all make sense.  Here’s a whole series of non-canon stories.  Kind of like the Hellboy: Weird Tales series that came out, kind of like that.

Like Mike Mignola, even though he doesn’t draw all the series, he does have a hand in all of them.  I think he writes all of them, except Weird Tales, which, like you said, are the non-canon storylines.

Hellboy: Weird Tales
Hellboy: Weird Tales

Right.  And at this point, I don’t plan on doing the Duncan Fegredo artist-type thing like Mike has done with Hellboy, but I can certainly appreciate wanting to take a break.  But at this point, no, I just think that what Mouse Guard is is just too synonymous with what I am, and that I’m too much of a control freak to let go of the reins, unless it was some kind of non-canon celebration of the world and the artist’s talent.

Yeah, like the pin-ups.  The pin-ups are a lot of fun.

I love the pin-ups!  I’m so happy to get the people that I get, and most of the time they’re just friends.  Not that they’re not all friendly acquaintances, but a lot of times they come out of casual conversations, like at a bar or something.  They’re not so formal.  They’re just, “Hey, I’d like to do a pin-up.”  “Well, what are you thinking of?”  And then we chat about it.  I’ve also made a point to try to do trades for the pin-ups, to try to make it as friendly as possible, and not so much business.  But I like owning the original artwork that they create, so I try to make it as fair as I can, by either offering a pin-up for whatever book they’re working on, or a trade for other original artwork of mine.  That way I get to own this amazing piece of artwork, but what I’m really tying to say to the artist is, “Hey, I respect your work this much.  I really enjoy seeing your interpretation of Mouse Guard this much that I want to own that.”

That’s pretty cool, though – that exchange.

Mouse Guard pin-up by Steve Hamaker
Mouse Guard pin-up by Steve Hamaker

It’s really cool.  In fact, I have most of the talent lined up for the third series, for the Black Axe pin-ups.  It fills up pretty quick.

I’d imagine, with six issues and two pin-ups in each issue.

One pin up an issue.

Oh that’s right.

Six slots total.

Given your schedule being busy with Mouse Guard,  we’re probably not looking at any non-Mouse Guard stuff anytime in the near future.

Nothing storywise at this point in comics.  I am currently working on a children’s book that will be out in 2011, coming out through Harper Collins, called Snowy Valentine’s Day.  But the book trade and the comic trade are vastly different.  While I can still be kind of finishing up the Mouse Guard hardcover for a July release of this year, in the book trade I actually have a dealine of next month to get the book out for February of 2011.

Yeah, I’m kind of familiar with the book thing.  Attending book conferences and dealing with publishers and agents for my own book and the children’s arena – the slots are already filling for 2011, if not already full for the publishing schedule for major publishers, especially someone like Harper Collins.

Muppet Robin Hood, #1
Muppet Robin Hood, #1

But in the comics work, I’m doing odds and ends.  When I’m asked, as long as I can make it fit with my Mouse Guard schedule and it’s something that I’m interested in doing, I’m not just saying “no.”  I’ll entertain ideas.  In fact, I’m doing covers for Boom!  Specifically The Muppets.  I just finished a series of four covers for Muppet Robin Hood and Muppet Peter Pan is next.  And they’ve been pleased so far, so it looks like it’s going to be a good relationship that’ll keep going.

I checked out the first couple of issues of The Incredibles and The Muppet Show that came out a couple of weeks ago.  They’re really doing a good job with those.  It’s hard to sometimes translate that stuff to comics, but I think they’re doing a good job with it.

Yeah, I mean The Muppets – a lot of it is old Vaudeville routines, and they worked on the radio, and they worked backstage, and they worked on television, obviously.  So I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t translate to comics.

Going back to Mouse Guard, the limited edition black and white hardcover – hopefully it’s still somewhere that people can get their hands on it…

As far as I know, we still have copies available at Diamond.  It did not sell out.

So what was the thought process into producing that, and what was your end in creating it?  I know obviously the art and the story, but I know you had Winter 1152 and the Role Playing Game at the same time.

mouseguardparttwo4
Mouse Guard: Fall 1152, the Black & White Limited Edition

The black and white edition started as an idea before the Role Playing Game, which is ironic that it was published afterward.  But the thing was, after the Fall hardcover came out, I’d be at conventions and we’d get both fans and retailers asking, “Are you going to do a limited edition of Fall?”  And it sounded like, essentially, what they were asking for was just a reprinting of Fall that would also be numberedm or maybe had a slipcase or something like that, but it was going to be the exact same book, or I could include a print or something like that inside.  A tipped-in print or something.  And I felt like, at that point, it was just a repackage and a markup on a product.  It seemed money-grubby to me, that we’re saying, “Here’s the same thing, but more important than the other one’s because we numbered them.” [laughs] And it just didn’t appeal to me in the concept.  But there was a lot of demand out there for some kind of special edition of Mouse Guard.  On the same hand, on the up hand I mean, at conventions I sell original pages.  I have a portfolio on the table of original pages, and people were so surprised to see the work in black and white, the way I ink it.  Because all the colors are digital, so they’d see these black and white pages and just be amazed that this is what the thing looks like before I color it.  There were a lot of people saying, “I like your black and white work as much as I like your color work,” which is very flattering.  So the two ideas just kind of fit together.  I thought that this would be the perfect way to do an edition that we could really do nicely, with the cloth binding and the over-sized printing.  We printed it the same size that I work, so it’s like having a bound edition of all the original pages.

That is cool actually.

So that was the thought process with it, and it took a long time to get off the ground – some printing issues came up, but it’s finally here.  And so far the fans have been really happy it.  I’ve had my hands on a copy and I think it’s great.

So…somewhere down the line we may see something like that for Winter 1152 also…

Poooosssibly…[laughs]

I mean WAY down the line…

The problem that I see is that, and obviously sales of the Fall one will impact if we see a Winter, but the Fall version, whenever there was a page with rain on the original page, I used an overlay sheet and inked the rain drops on separate paper, and scanned it in separately, and then overlaid in the computer.  I wanted to show that type of process, so we used tipped-in sheets of velum that you can see through, with my inked rain on the velum.  And you can see the actual page ink work underneath.  Well, I used the same technique for snow and I think there were like twenty, twenty-one pages in Fall that were those velum pages.  In Winter, I think we’re like triple that because of all the snow.

Yeah, probably about half the book, really.

Yeah, so those pages, if I’m not mistaken, are all tipped-in by hand when the editions are bound.  So it gets pretty costly to add those, and I think it would come down to getting the pricing info to see if it’s even economically feasible to print a book with that many more tipped-in pages.  But it’s something that I’m open to.

It would be cool .  So the Role Playing Game came out.  It’s pretty successful.  We actually had a contest on the site.  Obviously you did a lot of work on that one.  Are you much of a gamer yourself?

Mouse Guard: Role Playing Game
Mouse Guard: Role Playing Game

I was back in high school.  Middle school and high school I was. But then once I got to college, my regular gaming band kind of dispersed – they grew up and went away. We still have a couple of core guys, and we try to game every now and then, but time just made it impossible, and we pretty much switched to table top gaming, like board gaming and stuff like that – strategy gaming, because it’s something that, when we all get together, we can easily play in one night without any preparation.  But I miss it for sure.  I think it actually really helped and informed who I am as a storyteller.  Because when I was gaming, sometimes we did book adventures things like D&D, and things with systems and all that, but other times, and usually when I was going to be running something, because I didn’t want to get bogged down with rules, we just did a free-form thing.  We just walked around the neighborhood and I would kind of lay it all out – kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure, and it really makes you think on your toes.  I know even with a canned adventure, in something like Dungeons and Dragons, even if you didn’t come up with the adventure yourself, and you’re using something in the adventure that’s printed in the book, you still have to think on your toes, but when there’s nothing there, you really have to…

Come up from scratch completely.

Yeah, and it really helped me understand how different characters act differently, and how things that you planned don’t necessarily happen, and sometimes it’s when those things don’t happen like they’re supposed to that makes for a more interesting story.

Yeah, absolutely – it helps as a storyteller to think of things on the fly.  Like you mentioned, with the Black Axe, sometimes things just take a life of their own and you have to roll with it.

When I’m working on the series, I have an outline for what’s supposed to happen in each issue, but I don’t have dialogue scripted ahead of time until I’m working on that specific issue.  The details are not hammered out and I will reevaluate that issue as I’m working on it and make changes – maybe the shortcomings of the last issue, or a point that I didn’t feel like I got across well enough – and try to smuggle that in.

You’ve had some great merchandise – the PVC’s, the Role Playing Game, and a lot of stuff for sale on the site – t-shirts, mugs, that kind of stuff.  Are you looking into more of the merchandising in the next little bit.  Any multimedia Mouse Guard prospects?

The Mouse Guard PVCs
The Mouse Guard PVCs

We’ll see.  For me it’s always about, “is it tasteful?”  I think it needs to be something interesting and different from what we’ve already done.  New characters for PVC I think would be a fun one to do.  I’d like to see some more of those statues, some more moments from the book.  The first statue was a recreation of the Fall hardcover.

That one was very impressive actually.

Yeah, I really liked the sculptor.  He did both the statue and the PVCs, but I’d like to see some more moments from the book, like William and the snake, or Conrad and the crabs, or maybe some Winter scenes, with some of the cool stuff they can do with plastics and things, where you can really make it look like the mice are covered in ice and frost.  I think classic moments from the book, where it’s done tastefully, and not try to do just a glut on the market, where it’s like muscles.  Like, “Look, here’s a billion mice!  We just painted them differently with different cloaks and swords, and now you have an army of mice!”  That’s not cool.

So are you attending any of the cons coming up?  I noticed Heroes Con on the site.

Yup, Motor City is next in Novi, Michgan.  And then Heroes, San Diego, Chicago…I’m going to forget one…Baltimore … I feel like I’m forgetting something else in there.  Those are the big ones.

I’m going to be attending the Heroes con.  I’ll stop by and say hey.

Yeah, cool.

Well, thanks for taking the time with us.

Thank you!


Some great stuff there, especially for fans of Mouse Guard! For more information on Mouse Guard, check out the official site!  And check back Thursday for an ULTRA COOL Mouse Guard contest here at IoM!

Buy original art from Mouse Guard here!  And Apparel and Mugs here!

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