Looking through the last 3 years of my color sketchbooks, I found that several of the pieces had meaning for me as I was doing the piece (upcoming stories) -or- sparked an idea as I was drawing it of a story or idea I'd like to play with more in the future. I grabbed a few to share (not all of them, this way I can revisit this theme if you all enjoy it)
Induction: Back in 2006 I did a piece similar to this one and mentioned that I'd like to revisit it. Working on the RPG with Luke Crane helped me to establish how I wanted to handle a mouse becoming a Guard, what were the requirements, and then once you were accepted, what was the ceremony like. I don't know if I drew this or the title header for the RPG that shows a similar scene first, but my influences were: being inducted into the National Honors Society in high school, The Sorting at Hogwarts, the Metal Ceremony from A New Hope. Now I still haven't shown this scene in the comics, but I do plan on giving the readers a front row seat to an induction into the Guard.
Weasels: Black Axe will have Fishers & Ferrets...but they do not offer the promise I have made since day one of a massive battle between mice and weasels. The plan is for that to be the fourth book in the Mouse Guard series set in 1149. I have to admit, the idea of drawing that war has me a bit worried..it's a tough job doing a normal series, but a whole war!?!? yikes. So the pieces I have done with mice fighting weasels have been good practice. This one was from a fan requesting Rand doing some damage. Fitting since Rand will be a main character in that story.
Love: I like a good love story, and I wanted to bring some romance to Mouse Guard. The ball got rolling with Winter with two couples romances starting, but in one case, it was under such adverse conditions, it wasn't very romantic, and the other happened at the end of the book. I have plans to deal with those characters and their feelings for each other in stories down the road. This piece (the original of which hangs to the left of my studio desk) reminds me to make sure the stories are about characters and relationships as much as it is big vs little and high adventure.
Loukas: Saxon's mentor was a character who was supposed to just be a mentioned mouse in the 4th issue of Winter. However since I needed to show a flashback and have Saxon inherit items of his, I had to design his cloak and sword, etc. The idea of Loukas and what his relationship to Saxon was like grabbed me. I have a history for the character planned out and I suspect we will see more of him in the Winter War of 1149 as well as a yet-untitled-yet-unscheduled story involving Saxon and Kenzie when they first joined the Guard.
Opossum: This piece was drawn for a fan who asked for a Guardmouse attacking something. Sometimes it's fun to not just re-tread some of the old battles for these commissions (crabs, owl, snake, etc.) but to expand the world a bit. I also wanted to show Kenzie fighting something effectively. Because of his personality and choice of weapon, I think it's easy to pigeon hole him into not being an effective fighter. So pieces like this help me figure out ways to show Kenzie in another light.
Matriarchs: Readers have only met Gwendolyn the matriarch in Fall and Winter, but I have had to start thinking about other matriarchs and their role in the Guard and territories. Like the induction ceremony, the RPG got me thinking about how matriarchs are chosen, what privileges they have, etc. Something I think will be fun to play with later is that Matriarchs will have sole access to all the writings of previous matriarchs. I picture all of these texts (among other artifacts) to be held in a room that has portraits and busts of previous matriarchs. This commission's tapestry was based on one that my friend's mother made and hangs in a church in Ann Arbor (though I mousified it to include some Guard symbology)
The End: While I have no end for Mouse Guard in sight. I do have ideas as to when certain characters meet their end. And that's not to say that it is anytime soon, but expecting a character to live forever is a boring prospect to me for the mice. I plan to use characters deaths to trigger events and force living characters to deal with the effects, even if those effects are only their own grief and loss. This commission started when I was asked for 'something creepy...like a tomb' and became a scene I have planned a long way off, but is an iconic moment for me in the continuation of Mouse Guard.
Mid-Ohio Con: Nov. 6-7
2011 dates TBA