2012 FCBD Story: The Tale of Baldwin the Brave:
My story for this year's Free Comic Book Day book from Archaia followed the tradition I set last year with the story being some sort of morality tale told to a younger version of one of my main characters. Last year's story was a bedtime tale being told to young-Kenzie, and I did a post about the process of creating that story last year. Saxon was the recipient of this year's story, but before we go further...in case you have not found a copy of the 2012 FCBD book or you didn't get around to reading it yet, you can follow this link to have it read to you aloud: http://vimeo.com/mouseguard/mgbaldwinthebrave
Not wanting to repeat the bed-time-story setup from last year's offering, I chose to tell the story to Saxon by having him watch a puppet show. The idea had come to me early last year when I drew this piece of a mouse puppet maker. I love puppets and puppetry, so I thought mice telling stories with puppets would be a wonderful way for them to tell tales, make art objects, and charming for the readers of my books. The fez & vest of this mouse puppet builder is an homage to the Fraggle I made as an analog of myself named Gib. So, I proceeded with the idea to tell the whole story using marionettes. As a side note, I did pause for a moment to realize, I wasn't planning to use the puppets as a gateway into showing the 'real' story, but would illustrate the puppets on stage as you would see them if you were in the mouse audience....it still seems like a gamble to have only drawn 'real' mice in only 2 panels of my story, but I liked the immersion into the storytelling method.
To prepare for drawing this story, I built a few props as guides for me. I printed out the stage proscenium from my cover art for the book (done in advance of the story) and cut it up adding a few basswood sticks and cardboard to create a paper-stage model. I made a few backdrops and flying walls to scale for the stage so that each scene would be playing out in new locations while still seeming like a believable stage play. I also sculpted a mouse marionette that I could pose for reference to get the joints and weight of the lifless limbs correct..
Baldwin (our puppet hero...and named after my Paternal Grandmother's Maiden surname) overcomes three obstacles in the tale. He saves the village from starvation by cleverly trapping a greedy goose as bait for a wolf, he has the courage to speak to a pretty mouse before she chooses death over loneliness, and finally, with his bravery as an example, he leads the town to triumph in battle over the same wolf from earlier. The pattern of three is a classic fairy tale device, and I wanted to make sure the three tasks were not all solved by brute force or just by the tip of a sword. Even though this story was for Saxon, I opted to make Baldwin a bit more well rounded and used bravery to outsmart, love, and lead.
Now to start thinking up NEXT year's FCBD story....perhaps it will be for Sadie's ears....
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