Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pages from past Sketchbooks
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.

Upcoming Appearances:
Mid-Ohio Con: Nov. 6-7
2011 dates TBA


TwiceBorn said...

Thank you so much for this post. It makes me really anticipate the future of MouseGuard. The last picture is very haunting when you look closely.

On the matriarchs, I think you should have a slightly corrupt matriarch come along. One who believes the ends justify the means. One that the good mice feel uncomfortable following, but do so for the greater good. That would be very interesting.

Keep it up.

Max West said...

I can understand the challenges of having your own universe and creating stories to go within. I'm working on my own series and it's a challenge for me. Of course, you're published at least. I may have to go the self-publishing route.

I'm also a reader of Brian Jacques' famous series of novels, Redwall, and your MouseGuard is quite an interesting contrast to Redwall. Creatures that are considered heroes in Redwall like otters, badgers, birds of prey, etc. actively hunt and eat mice in your world!

Anonymous said...

Dear David

I was wondering if you could email me a list of covers that you have for sale? I was at a convention and I say some of your muppet covers and wondered if you had more covers for sale that are not on your website?


Anonymous said...

Man this is so cool!! You have got to get more of this stuff on your blog. It is cool to know that Mouse Guard has a long future, but remember we also want to know what is going to happen in Spring 1153.

DPetersen said...

TwiceBorn: Thanks! I do not have a story like that planned yet, but showing what happens when the Guard has a matriarch they don't believe in is a good set-up for a story.

Max: I love world building in general (from other creators) and didn't know I would enjoy doing it so much myself. I mainly just wanted to start defining what made my stories different from others and then found that I had opinions about the way EVERYTHING in the world would exist.

Luis: I will email you shortly.

Aaron: Sorry, but there is no Spring 1153. The next two story arcs to be published will be prequels to Fall and Winter 1152. the 5th series will then pick up after Winter 1152, but a few years after...like 1156. I set the Free Comic Book Story in Spring of 1153 because so many fans were asking when Spring was coming. That one-shot was it.

Anders K. Sekanina said...

May I ask how much time you are using on these commissions?

Anonymous said...

This was a great Post. Happy to hear that Rand will play a larger role in the Winter War (of 1149) he's my favorit character. You wrote: yet-untitled-yet-scheduled story about Saxon and Kenzie...You did mean yet-untitled-yet-UNscheduled right..?

Anonymous said...

I love the sketchbook artwork! I was wondering when you were thinking of doing another ustream? I also posted a comment on your rpg post. I am working now on a fan artwork piece and will email it to you soon.
Thanks for all you do!

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