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

Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #6
Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #6

It’s winter of the year 1152.  The season has been a tough one, and the town of Lockhaven is running dangerously short on food and supplies.  A small team of elite soldiers serving as diplomats (Saxon, Kenzie, Lieam, and Sadie, led by Celanawe) make their way through the snow blanketed territories to improve relations between cities and the Guard, and to try to find food and supplies. This is a winter not every Guard may survive.

Mouse Guard is an Eisner-Award winning tale of a mouse-filled world of intrigue, war, tragedy, and friendship.  From the official site,

The mice struggle to live safely and prosper among all of the world’s harsh conditions and predators. Thus the Mouse Guard was formed. After persevering against a weasel warlord in the winter war of 1149, the territories are no longer as troubled. True, the day to day dangers exist, but no longer are the Guard soldiers, instead they are escorts, pathfinders, weather watchers, scouts and body guards for the mice who live among the territories. Many skills are necessary for the guard to keep the borders safe. They must find new safeways and paths from village to village, lead shipments of goods from one town to another and, in case of attack, guard against all evil and harm to their territories.

‘Hail all those who are able, any mouse can, any mouse will, but the Guard prevail’

Mouse Guard is written and illustrated by David Petersen and, with the final issue of the second Mouse Guard miniseries, Winter 1152, hitting stands soon, we had a sit-down to see what else was in store for the Guard!  Check out part one of our awesome two part interview after the jump!

Click here to read our interview with David Petersen!
Click here to read our interview with David Petersen!

Hey Paul.

How’s it going?

I’ve got a little cold going right now.

That’s never fun.

It’s impeding work getting done, unfortunately.

Yeah, my sinuses have started kicking in for me.

Exactly.

Well, figured we’d talk a little bit about Mouse Guard, of course.  Do you know when issue six is going to come out?  I know on the site it says it’s already done.

Art from Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #3
Art from Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #3

Yeah.  May is the scheduled publishing date for that.

What can we expect in that issue?  Obviously you can’t give away too much, but number five ended on kind of a cliffhanger.

Yeah…uh..wow…that’s like getting someone to try to tell you the end of a movie without ruining it.

[laughs]

I’m trying to think if there’s anything I can give away…um…the series gets resolved!

Fantastic!

There’s a song!

There’s a song?

Yup…yup, I put a ballad in issue four and I liked how it played, so I did it again in issue six.

That was really cool, actually – is that one going to be online like the one from number four?

The cover to Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #4
The cover to Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #4

With the first one, the one I put in number 4, I knew I wanted to do a ballad, but I’d never really written anything for music before.  And so I figured I have to have a melody, because I have, just joking around in the car, I’ve made up lyrics to existing songs.  So I figured that’s the way I have to go.  I have to hear the melody and make something up.  So I asked a buddy of mine, who’s actually the real-life inspiration for Kenzie, who does musical theater and stuff, and he played around with the guitar, “Do you have anything I can use?  Anything I can listen to and write the lyrics to this thing?”  And he provided some music, and then once I got the lyrics written, he recorded the whole thing, which is what’s up online.  So this time, I gave him a head’s up that, “hey, I’m going to do another song in issue six,” and he said, “okay, that’s cool,” and I said, “I don’t know if I’ve given you enough time to get a song done before I have to start writing this thing, though.  So I might have to go ahead and start writing it without you.”  And he’s like,  “That’s fine.”  So I wrote all the lyrics and then turned it over to him for music and I haven’t gotten anything back just yet.  So I’m hoping, fingers crossed, that he’s still working on some music so that we can record that and put that up on the website as well.  It’s just going take a little longer.

I really enjoyed the last one.

Thanks.

So, #6 comes out within the next month.  It’s been a while since it was announced, but is the next series still going be Black Axe?

Yes.

Have you started work on that one?

Not yet, no.  Actually right now I’m chest deep…or deeper…in the hardcover extras for Winter.

That’s right…can you tell us a little bit about what the extras are?  There were some pretty nifty ones with the first hardcover.

The cover to the Fall 1152 hardcover
The cover to the Fall 1152 hardcover

Sure!  First thing, we’re going to be following the same pattern that we did with the first one, the Fall hardcover.  There’s no good reason to stray from that, and the page count worked and everything.  But instead of it being the same guide pages of Lockhaven and Barkstone, it’s two different locations – one of which is Sprucetuck, the city that the mice visit in the first issue of Winter.  And then the same thing with the “mouse trades” – that one’s going to be really popular.  So we did that one, and the map hasn’t really changed, but I updated it with some information, showing routes that the mice took during the season.  So that you can kind of figure out where they were headed and the routes that they took and everything.  And then again the eight page epilogue and the reprinting of all the amazing pin up artwork.

Obviously you’re still working on it, but is there a tentative release date in mind?

Yeah, July.  I’m practically done.  I’m just working on the epilogue right now, and this damn cold has me slowing down more than I’d like.  Who knew that ideas took up energy?

It feels like your brain is stuffed up too, right?

Yeah, it’s amazing!

Promo art from the upcoming Black Axe
Promo art from the upcoming Black Axe

So Black Axe is next.

Yeah, the Black Axe is next.  It’s going to be … everybody thinks Spring is next, which is funny that I didn’t even really think about how that seemed like the next logical step.  The next one is going be a prequel and it’s going to cover several years of history and kind of chronicle a chapter of the Black Axe.

When that one’s done, and maybe we’re talking too far in advance, are you planning on returning to some of the characters like Kenzie, Saxon, Lieam…

Yeah!  So the Black Axe is next, and then the series after that, tentatively, is The Weasel War, the one that I keep dropping hints about.  The big war in 1149, and in that you see Saxon and Kenzie and even Rand, the shield bearer who’s pretty much crippled during what we’ve seen so far.  We’ll see them as kind of heroes of that war.  There have been other hints I’ve dropped about what happens in that war, like Lieam’s recruitment, and several other things.  That’s tentatively what would be after Black Axe. And then, again tentatively, after that would be a return to this timeline – what would follow Winter.

Spring!

Celanawe, the Black Axe
Celanawe, the Black Axe

[laughs] I think I’m going to jump ahead some and give myself a nice Alexander Dumas-style gap.  Probably not quite that big, but kind of like how between The Three Musketeers and Man in the Iron Mask, there’s enough room there that you as the reader can imagine all the adventures that the Three Musketeers, with D’Artagnan, must have had and then some.

I’m a big Dumas fan, so that’s a pretty cool reference for me.

Thank you.

So is there an ovrearching storyline?  Or are you just telling different stories that you want to tell in this world?

I think it started more as just stories I wanted to tell within this world, but it seems to keep coming back to kind of a theme of the storyline having to do with the Black Axe, and the legend of it, and what it means, and what legends mean, and what heroes are and that kind of thing.  Like I said,  I didn’t start out thinking this was going to be a big Black Axe thing…

But you find a character…

It builds on itself.

Exactly.

You try to make a character important in the story and it becomes even more important than you planned and it keeps building.


Check back tomorrow for part two of the interview, where we talk about some non-Mouse Guard work that Petersen is working on, some of the cool Mouse Guard merchandise, the Black and White limited edition hardcover that just came out for Fall 1152, and more!

Update: Screw waiting!  Check part 2 NOW!!!!

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