I’m going to avoid trying to cuss in this article, since we’re talking with Jake Parker, creator of the all ages title Missile Mouse. Still, Missile Mouse kicks butt. If you haven’t picked up Flight Explorer, why not? You’re missing out on new tales of Jellaby and Missile Mouse, and other all-ages appropriate tales by some of the most talented folks working in comics today!
Missile Mouse‘s first official appearance (well, the one you can get your hands on anyway) is in the Flight Explorer book, where he crash lands on an alien planet and has to liberate an alien race from a giant creature, as only Missile Mouse can! (lots of shooting)
I know that when we typically hear “all ages,” we think “kid stuff,” but, really, it just means that a story can be enjoyed by both children and adults. Like Star Wars and Star Trek, Missile Mouse is an all ages appropriate tale of a Han Solo/Buck Rogers-esque hero who manages to always find himself in over his head.
With the recent announcement of Missile Mouse: The Star Crusher coming out in January 2010, I thought we’d try to get a hold of creator Jake Parker to ask him what’s in store for us. The original plan was to have this out in time for our “Mice with Weapons” week, but, coincidentally enough, that happened to coincide with the deadline for the book itself! So, after a little delay, after the jump is our AWESOME interview with Missile Mouse creator Jake Parker!
Tell us a little about yourself, and what you currently are working on.
Well, I guess I could start with my background. I was born and raised in Mesa AZ and began drawing when I was very young. Luckily, I had parents who fed my creativity and a group of friends who inspired and motivated me to be creative. I’ve been working professionally now for 10 years beginning as an inbetweener for Fox Animation in Phoenix. Now I work for Blue Sky Studios (also owned by Fox) in Greenwich Connecticut. I’m currently working on their next (unannounced) film as an environmental designer. I’m also working on a series of graphic novels that chronicle the space adventures of Missile Mouse, a field agent for the Galactic Security Agency.
I notice a lot of designs for the “Horton Hears a Who” movie on your official blog. What did you do for the movie?
I was primarily a set designer for the film, but I also got to design a couple characters, and I did a lot of prop design. Specifically, the set for the breakfast scene with the swirling table, the hall of mayors, Dr. Larue’s laboratory, the dentist office and much much more.
Flight Explorer was the first official appearance of Missile Mouse, correct? How was the experience of working on the book? I remember reading that there was some issue about you using the word “crap” in your story.
Yep, Missile Mouse’s first official appearance was in the first volume of Flight Explorer. Unofficially, he first appeared in a self published ashcan that I printed and sold in 2002. Working on the Missile Mouse story in Flight Explorer was extremely fun. Originally, I was planning on doing a story about a Victorian age explorer and I was talking about the story with a friend of mine and he said, “Jake, quit fiddling around with this guy and do a Missile Mouse story already.” And that was it, I never thought about that explorer again. Initially, the story was for Flight 4, but when we had a surplus of stories for that book, and when a lot of those stories were geared to the all ages crowd, Kazu took this as a good opportunity to branch out and make the all ages Flight book we had been talking about doing for a while. So Missile Mouse went in there, and I moved on to other projects, forgetting that I had put the word “crap” in the story a couple times. The book gets published and then I start getting flak for putting the word crap in an all ages book. Had I been thinking at the time I would’ve just switched it out with “rats” or something.
So tell us a little about Missile Mouse.
Missile Mouse is a secret agent for the Galactic Security Agency. He is an expert pilot, a crack shot, and can dish out a good punch. What he lacks in finesse he makes up with brute force and dogged determination. You could say he’s the hatchet as opposed to the scalpel. The GSA isn’t quite sure what to do with him, but they need him. Just when they think he’s too much of a liability he proves them wrong and becomes an asset they can’t function without. I came up with Missile Mouse in my early teens and have been drawing him off and on ever since. I didn’t think of this until now, but I guess technically his first published appearance would be in my high school newspaper. I had planned on doing a series of strips for the paper, but didn’t have the patience to do more than one installment.
You seem to have a pretty elaborate universe set up for Missile Mouse. Can you tell us a little bit about the universe?
I couldn’t grow up in the eighties and not escape the influence of Star Wars and Star Trek. So the MM universe definitely has elements from both of those universes. I’d say it’s 2 parts Star Wars and one part Star Trek, with a dash of Richard Scarry’s Busy Busy World. There’s several races based on animals we find here on earth. Though I’ve flirted with putting humans in the universe there are none in any stories I have planned. The galaxy is governed by the Galactic Union a tight coalition of planets with the common interest of keeping peace in the galaxy. It was formed after the great galactic war with a charge that it would never let the galaxy fall into chaos again. The most prominent threat to the GU is the Rogue Imperium of Planets. These guys think they could do a much better job governing the galaxy than the GU and will stop at nothing until the GU is disbanded and eliminated.
What kind of steps do you take to create such an elaborate universe that may or may not even necessarily play into the story beats of the graphic novels?
I love building worlds. I can’t create a character, or even a vehicle for that matter, without figuring out where he came from, why he’s here, and where he’s going. With vehicles or weapons I’m not content to just have it sitting there. I need to know who manufactured it, why it was made that way and for who. After doing this for several characters, vehicles, weapons, aliens their universe starts to take shape and before you know it they have a living breathing galaxy. I love history and a lot of what I read influences me. What fascinates me is that you can look at the broad strokes of history pick out one event like the Punic Wars and then pick out one event from that like Hannibal’s march through the Alps, and then pick an element out of that like war elephants, and then you follow along about how these elephants were used and you could waste a whole evening there. The point is every detail is tied to a much larger picture and I love connecting the two. Both in real life, and also in my stories.
Do you have a definite plan for Missile Mouse? Or is it more of a “stories as they come” kind of thing?
There is an over arching story for Missile Mouse, yes. I mean, there’s a ruthless army of bloodthirsty fascists trying to take control of his galaxy, he’s not going to stand idly by and watch that happen. Right? But there’s also joy in the journey and I have a lot of stories dealing with the everyday adventures of a secret agent space mouse and ultimately these adventures will add up to a defeat of the bad guys.
What goes into the Missile Mouse process – do you do all the penciling/inking/coloring/lettering yourself?
Pretty much everything is done by myself until the coloring stage. Then I can hand off the some of the art chores. Usually I’ll have some one lay in flat colors and then I’ll go in and adjust them and color them adding light and shadow. I also letter using a font I made form my own hand writing.
When can we look forward to seeing Missile Mouse on the shelves in our local bookstore?
Book one: The Star Crusher will be out in January. Quite a long wait, but I’ll be posting character stuff, and other odds and ends from the MM universe on my blog in the mean time.
Any more Flight/Flight Explorer work on the horizon?
I’d love to do another Flight story, but with a full time job, and working on Missile Mouse the rest of the time I’m not sure where I would squeeze that in right now.
What’s next for you?
Well, I just finished book one, so now it’s on to book two!
Pick up Missle Mouse: The Star Crusher next January, and pick up Flight Explorer NOW! And to get the latest Missile Mouse updates, and information on the characters and the universe of MM, check out Jake Parker’s official site! And check out his official store, where you can order an original piece of Missile Mouse art!